A canon lawyer has recently spoken out about a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She is claiming that archbishops and their top staff are lying to the public and of ignoring the US bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.
Her claims go on to share that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment.
She said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry. She said she repeatedly warned the church about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct. She resigned last year.
The archdiocese has for years pledged it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which lays out a series of requirements — from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments.
However, this woman alleges she discovered in 2008 that the archdiocese hadn’t conducted background checks on most priests since the early 1990s. When she drew attention to the lapse, she said she was told to eliminate references to the date of background checks in a form pledging a priest is suitable for ministry.
The woman also claims she found important information scattered among storage locations throughout the archdiocese, such as priests’ records, including the history of allegations against them, their compliance with the monitoring program, and evidence of their misconduct that did not make its way into various priest’s personnel files.
She is the highest-level official from a US diocese to make claims of a cover-up. A canon lawyer educated at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, she served as a judge on church tribunals in Minnesota and was trained through the US bishops’ conference on child safety and monitoring guilty clergy.
The Catholic Church plays a significant role in the growing number of child sex abuse claims, especially with all the scandals and cover-ups. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys stand ready to help those who have been subjected to inappropriate acts by clergy members. If you or a loved one have been abused by a member of the clergy, we are ready to advocate on your behalf and help you pursue the restitution you deserve.
We are well aware of the Catholic Church’s approach in these sexual abuse cases and the tactics they will employ to minimize the claims of victims. We firmly believe that no authority, religious or otherwise, is excused from responsibility when sexual misconduct or any abuse occurs. We will fight aggressively to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.