Monday, July 21, 2014

The sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of St. Paul - Minneapolis

Minnesota Public Radio has played a leading role in bringing to light the unsavory story of coverup of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul - Minneapolis over decades and several archbishops. The factual information has come both from archdiocesan documents made public by court order as well as depositions of top present and former officials. MPR has just released an extensive telling of the archdiocese's history of dealing with allegations of abuse starting with roots in Louisiana before the abuse crises was very visible in America.

A link to the total story is here.

An extract from the initial part (from. chapter 1 of 4 chapters) :

Minnesota Public Radio
July 21, 2014

(Bishop) Flynn would later claim that he healed the Diocese of Lafayette and restored the faith of its Catholics. Bishops, reporters and parishioners were amazed by his success, and Flynn, then the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, became a much sought-after expert on clergy sexual abuse.

"These people were crying out for someone to heal them fully," Flynn wrote in April 2002. "When they told me of the terrible acts perpetrated against them or their children, I was sometimes overwhelmed by the gravity and intensity of their accounts."

The Lafayette scandal showed him that "the bishop needs to quiet his own heart and be able to receive the confusion and hurt before attempting to respond to it," he told bishops in a 1994 national report on clergy sexual abuse.

At a national conference on the topic in 2003, Flynn addressed the audience as keynote speaker. "My experience of this problem as a bishop goes back to the place and almost to the time of the first case of this kind to gain widespread public attention," he said. "This was in the Diocese of Lafayette, La."

The assignment had been a painful one. "For a while, it was not easy being a Catholic – and definitely not a priest or a bishop – in Lafayette," he said. "One of the things that gives me hope in the current crisis is the experience I had in Lafayette of how people of good faith dealt with these terrible happenings. They were able, in a period of great testing, ultimately to discern between the grievous failings of the church's ministers and the truth and integrity of her Gospel message.

"This is not mere wishful thinking. The local church of Lafayette came to this realization only after suffering a great deal in facing up to the terrible things done to innocent children by men who should be among the most trustworthy in the community."

During the dark days of the national scandal in 2002, Flynn's legend grew. "The story is that when they sent Archbishop Flynn to Louisiana, he had a driver take him to every family where there had been a victim," the Rev. Jim Wiesner, who served as a priest in Minneapolis in the 1990s, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "He was spit on, thrown in the mud. When people asked him, 'Why did you keep doing that?' he said, 'To give them an opportunity to voice their anger.'"

News organizations, including the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, repeated similar claims without verifying them. When U.S. bishops selected Flynn to lead their response to the national clergy abuse scandal, a Star Tribune editorial praised the selection as a sign that the church was serious about reform.

Flynn became the face of the church's response. He led the committee that wrote the church's policy, called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. His background gave the Catholic Church tremendous credibility at a moment of crisis.

There was just one problem. The story wasn't true.

read full story here

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