For Minnesota Catholics, troubling new abuse scandal


For Minnesota Catholics, troubling new abuse scandal

By Amy Forliti of Associated Press

From the link: http://news.msn.com/us/for-minnesota-catholics-troubling-new-abuse-scandal?ocid=msnnw

Unlike other abuse revelations that have rocked theJennifer Haselberger, the allegations in Minnesota aren’t decades old or involve perpetrators long retired or dead.

ST. PAUL, Minn.  — When Jennifer Haselberger uncovered what looked like recent, troubling sexual behavior by several Minnesota priests — a stash of possible child pornography on one priest’s computer hard drive, another with a well-documented history of sexual compulsion still leading a parish — she tried to ring alarm bells at the top ranks of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.

But Haselberger, who resigned last April as the archdiocese’s chancellor for canonical affairs, said she felt ignored. She has since gone public with concerns that Minnesota’s archbishop and top deputies failed to truly reform how they handle problem priests, despite repeated promises to do so.

“I do not believe it can be said that the archdiocese is honoring its promise to protect” children and young people, Haselberger said last week in a statement to the media.

Unlike many of the abuse revelations that have rocked the U.S. Catholic Church, the allegations Haselberger brought to light aren’t decades old or involve perpetrators long retired or dead. They all happened after 2002, when U.S. bishops held a high-profile meeting in Dallas and approved broad policy changes meant to quickly remove predatory priests from parishes and restore the church’s tattered credibility with millions of Catholics.

“They weren’t just going to sweep stuff under the rug. They weren’t going to move him around,” said Joe Ternus, who in 2004 found what he called “a ridiculous amount of pornography” on the hard drive of a computer he purchased at a church rummage sale and that had belonged to Jonathan Shelley, a parish priest.

Ternus, whose parents and sister attended Shelley’s church, turned the hard drive over to archdiocesan officials.

“I was given assurances that this wasn’t going to happen, but that’s exactly what happened,” Ternus said.

Haselberger’s allegations have the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese playing defense. Last week, Archbishop John Nienstedt accepted the hasty resignation of his top-ranking deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, who wrote in his resignation letter that he hoped to “repair the trust of many, especially the victims of abuse.” Nienstedt also convened what he said would be an independent task force to examine the way church leaders officials have handled accusations of sexual misconduct by priests.

But church leaders weren’t initially so eager to deal with the cases. Minnesota Public Radio News obtained a letter from Nienstedt to Cardinal William Levada, the now-retired Vatican official who ran the office that oversees errant priests, spelling out who an archdiocese investigator found pornographic images on Shelley’s hard drive that were at least “borderline illegal, because of the youthful looking male images.”

“My staff has expressed concern the fact that CD-ROMs containing the images remain in the cleric’s personnel file could expose the archdiocese, as well as myself, to criminal prosecution,” Nienstedt wrote to Levada.

The archdiocese declined to make Nienstedt or Laird available for interviews. Spokesman Jim Accurso said media coverage of the recent allegations “leave a false impression about the commitment of the archdiocese to identify and address sexual misconduct by priests.” He said eliminating any form of abuse is the “highest priority” for the archdiocese.

Tom Wieser, an attorney for the archdiocese, has called Haselberger “a disgruntled former employee.” She worked at the archdiocese from 2008 to last April, when she resigned because of concerns about the way sexual abuse allegations were handled.

According to a police report, Haselberger found computer discs and a white three-ring binder in the vault last year that appeared to be evidence from a 2004 internal investigation into the images. A police report said Haselberger told Laird what she found, and was instructed to “put them back in the vault.”

Shelley’s lawyer said there was no child pornography on the disc. And an attorney for the archdiocese said a computer forensics expert also found no evidence to support Haselberger’s allegations. Police also found no evidence of child pornography, but acknowledged they didn’t have the computer itself.

Police received new information from Ternus on Friday, and on Tuesday afternoon they announced they were reopening the child pornography investigation. In his initial report, lead investigator Sgt. William Gillet openly wondered whether the archdiocese turned over all the pertinent evidence.

In the other case at issue, the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer was allowed to remain in ministry despite ample evidence that archdiocesan leaders knew of sexual misconduct. He is now in prison for sexually abusing two children and possessing child pornography.

Haselberger told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday that she raised concerns with her superiors in 2008, and again last year.

“Having worked on similar cases in other dioceses, I was completely unprepared for the responses I received in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis,” she wrote.

The new policies formulated by bishops in 2002 were specifically designed to quickly root out problem priests. One church leader instrumental in that process was Harry Flynn, Nienstedt’s predecessor in St. Paul-Minneapolis. Flynn is implicated in some of the decisions that Haselberger brought to light; he could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Since 2002, there was a real sea change, and I believe most bishops got it,” said Nicholas Cafardi, a former church canon lawyer who was involved in drawing up the new policies. Now a professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Cafardi said he would be personally shocked to learn that top officials in any diocese sheltered potential abusers since then.

Cafardi cautioned that he’s not familiar with the new allegations, and noted in particular that finding a priest in possession of legal pornography raises thorny questions for his supervisors in the church. But if it’s proven that church leaders failed to live up to the 2002 policies, he said, it would damage the church’s efforts to move beyond past scandals.

“Any diocese that’s not following that makes people question the credibility of the policy,” he said. “That then harms the entire church in the U.S., because people will think if this bishop does it, then is another bishop doing it?”

About victimsofrapebythercc

The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: "Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them." (no. 2356) Note that rape is "an intrinsically evil act," meaning that it is evil at its very root, nothing justifies it, and it is objectively a mortal sin. An evil act was done against me, a crime, by a priest at St Thomas More Parish in Durham, NH. An evil and a crime I will no longer keep silent about. Those who perpetrate crimes against children, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church, should all be punished for their crimes against children. Anything less would be criminal.

Posted on October 22, 2013, in Archbishop André Richard, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop Denis Hart, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Ernest Léger, Archbishop Jerome Hanus, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt, Archbishop John J. Myers, Archbishop John Nienstedt, Archbishop John Roach, Archbishop José Horacio Gomez, Archbishop Peter Gerety, Archbishop Peter Sartain, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Archbishop Robert Carlson, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop William Levada, Archdiocese of Boston, Archdiocese of Chicago, Archdiocese of Detroit, Archdiocese of Dublin, Archdiocese of Edinburg, Archdiocese of Grand Rapids, Archdiocese of Hartford, Archdiocese of Kalamazoo, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Archdiocese of Marquette, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Archdiocese of Minnesota, Archdiocese of New York, Archdiocese of Newark, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, Archdiocese of Saginaw, Archdiocese of St Andrews, Archdiocese of St Louis, Archdiocese of St Paul, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Association of Catholic Priests, Bill Donohue, Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua, Bishop David Zubik, Bishop Edward Cullen, Bishop Eugene Larocque, Bishop George H. Guilfoyle, Bishop John B McCormack, Bishop John Magee, Bishop John McCormack, Bishop Joseph Cistone, Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop Joseph Imesch, Bishop Kenneth Povish, Bishop Laurence Glenn, Bishop Michael Bransfield, Bishop Michael Malone, Bishop Peter A Libasci, Bishop Peter Sartain, Bishop Raymond Lahey, Bishop Richard Malone, Bishop Richard Sklba, Bishop Robert Finn, Bishop Robert Rose, Bishop Seamus Hegarty, Bishop Thomas Curry, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, Bishop Timothy Dolan, Bishop Vincent Leonard, Bishop Wojciech Polak, Cardinal Adam Maida, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Angelo Scola, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Cardinal Bernard Law, Cardinal Cushing, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Dominik Duka, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Franc Rodé, Cardinal Francis George, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, Cardinal John Krol, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Juan Cipriani, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Levada, Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Cardinal Patrick O'Malley, Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Richard Cushing, Cardinal Rigali, Cardinal Roger M Mahony, Cardinal Roger Mahony, Cardinal Sean Brady, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Thomas Winning, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Cardinal William Levada, Catholic League, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Child Sex Abuse, Christianity, Christians, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for the Clergy, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, Dallas Charter, Diocese of Manchester, Father Curtis Wehmeyer, Father Jonathan Shelley, Good Shepherd Laundries, Jennifer Haselberger, Magdalene Laundries, Manchester Diocese, Manchester Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Manchester NH Diocese, Opus Dei, Papal Nuncio, Pedophile, Pedophile Priests, Perverted Priests, Pope Benedict, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Rev. Peter Laird, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse, Roman Curia, St Thomas Moore Parish Durham NH, St Thomas More, St Thomas More Durham NH, St Thomas More Parish, Uncategorized, Vatican, William A Donohue and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Amy,
    Why is fr.laird attached to a headline with “rape in the Catholic Church ? are u aware of the words slander?

    • Why are you defending Fr Laird?

      the Rev. Peter Laird, who wrote in his resignation letter that he hoped to “repair the trust of many, especially the victims of abuse.”

      The ONLY way to restore the trust is to have each and every Cardinal, Archbishop and Bishop whom participated in these cover-ups arrested and prosecuted. All priests whom raped us as children SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HIDE BEHIND THE STATUE OF LIMITATIONS TO GET AWAY WITH THEIR CRIMES AGAINST US.

      You Ann are defending the indefensible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: