A Ramsey County judge on Monday ordered the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to release the names of 33 credibly-accused priests released by Dec. 17. The Diocese of Winona must also release its list of 13 priests by the same deadline, bringing the total to 46.
District Judge John Van de North also set a January deadline for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to release the names of any priests credibly accused since the list of 33 was compiled in January.
The archdiocese sought to release just 29 names, arguing that three of the cases do not have credible evidence and one happened outside of the archdiocese. The archdiocese also said 9 of the 33 priests on its list are no longer living.
WHAT MUST BE RELEASED
The judge ordered the following information released:
- Names of priests
- Birth year
- Year of ordination
- Life/death status
- Year of death
- Parishes they served
- Current status
- Current city and state of residence
SNAP: RELEASE NAMES NOW
Megan Peterson, Twin Cities leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), released the following statement Monday:
A Minnesota judge is ordering two Catholic bishops to reveal names of accused predator priests. Kids will be safer as a result. But it should never take a court order to force Catholic officials to disclose the names of potentially dangerous child molesting clerics.
These names won't include all of the alleged predator priests in these two dioceses. We suspect that records have been destroyed and that abuse reports against dozens of credibly accused clerics have been wrongly deemed "unsubstantiated" by self-serving Catholic officials over the past few decades.
Archbishop John Nienstedt wants to keep one name secret because he can supposedly find no proof that the accused priest worked in the Twin Cities. So what? If he's a proven, admitted or credibly accused child molester, parents, parishioners and the public should be warned about him, no matter where he worked.
Nienstedt wants to keep secret three other names because church officials supposedly can't substantiate the allegations. That argument might wash except that long-secret church records show that time and time again, even with credible victims and ample evidence; Catholic officials claim they can't "substantiate" allegations. They have so abused the public trust and their own "kangaroo courts" that no reasonable person believes the church hierarchy when it says that an accusation cannot be substantiated. (One glaring example: the Fr. Michael Keating case)
False allegations do happen. In the case of child molesting clerics, however, they are exceedingly rare. And when they do, it is of course very hurtful to the accused adult. But it's even more hurtful to many others when credible allegations are ignored or hidden. When we are forced to choose between the reputation of one adult or the safety of several kids, responsible grown-ups always side with kids' safety.
So we are grateful to this judge. And we are grateful to the brave and persistent clergy sex abuse victim who has patiently asked that this crucial information be provided to the public. Let's hope that judges across Minnesota and elsewhere will make similar rulings so that child molesters are exposed, children are protected and more of the truth is revealed.
Finally, we urge these two Catholic officials to release the names now, instead of waiting until the 12/17 deadline. Hiding the identities of proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters is irresponsible. Each delay gives a potential or actual criminal more chances to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, fabricate alibis and threaten witnesses.
POPE PRAYS FOR VICTIMS
Pope Francis on Monday addressed the issue of clergy sex abuse in the Netherlands and called for prayers for the victims.
"I wish to express my compassion and to ensure my closeness in prayer to every victim of sexual abuse, and to their families," the Pope said. "I ask you to continue to support them along the painful path of healing, that they have undertaken with courage".