Minneapolis Archdiocese to release names of abusive priests - KMSP-TV

Archdiocese to release names of abusive priests

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Archbishop John Nienstedt said the names of all priests with "substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors" will be released once an independent review of Archdiocese files is complete.

The pledge to release a list of names was part of an open letter published Monday regarding Clarence Vavra -- a priest removed from the ministry in 2003 after self-reported sexual contact with boys and sexual contact with other adult men.

Vavra sought treatment and was eventually allowed back into active ministry, but was removed again after the clergy review board determined he violated the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

In the sunset of his life, Vavra returned to New Prague, Minn. -- the town where he grew up and that houses a parish he once led. Now 74, he lives in a small gray house where no one seems to be aware of his secret.

"Why don't they leave me alone?" he lamented.

Vavra admitted molesting several boys in the mid 1970s on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota; however, the Archdiocese never told police. Instead, the church moved Vavra to 17 different assignments in 38 years.

In 2003, former Archbishop Harry Flynn forced Vavra to retire and offered him an extra $650 a month for his troubles. Yet, Vavra blames the Archdiocese.

"They're making me a scapegoat for their mishandling," he told Fox 9 News. "Whatever I've done wrong, I've paid for it 100,000 times by now with the work I've done."

However, since the Archdiocese never reported Vavra as a sex offender to police, no one in his neighborhood knew about his crimes -- including those at the middle school located just half a block away.

ARCHBISHOP NIENSTEDT (NOV. 11)

"To demonstrate our commitment to the safety of minors and transparency, we will be disclosing information about priests who are known by us to have Charter violations. Our ability to disclose all names is reliant on the completion of the independent file review that I ordered in early October and communicated in my column in The Catholic Spirit on October 24. However, during the month of November, and upon receipt of permission of the relevant court, the Archdiocese will be disclosing the names, locations and status of priests who are currently living in the Archdiocese, and who we know have substantiated claims against them of committing sexual abuse against minors. All of these men have been removed from ministry."

It remains to be seen how thorough that list may be. A few years ago, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis told a judge they had a list of 33 priests who abused children, and it's unknown if the list to be released is the same one. It's also unknown whether the names of men who were kicked out of priesthood or moved away would be included.

In his letter, Nienstedt said the disclosure is expected to be made sometime this month after permission is received from the relevant court; however, attorney Mike Finnegan contends they can release the names at any time.

DEMANDS OF DISCLOSURE

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been pressured by Catholic clergy, parishioners, outsiders and attorneys to release a list of offending priests.

"The list of 33 priests whom the archdiocese believes have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children must be released," Father Bill Deziel of the Church of St. Peter in North St. Paul wrote in a newsletter last month. "If it is not, it leaves all of us wondering who these men are, and which priests may be threats to our children and young people."

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