Compliance, public nuisance, and some angry priests in MN

First, let’s talk about compliance.


Since 2002, Catholics and the public have been “assured” time and time again that dioceses across the United States are “in compliance” with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a set of rules created by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops after the scandals in Boston more than 11 years ago.

As recently as 2012, the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul was in “full compliance” with the Charter to Protect Children and Young People. So says the Archdiocese’s website:

The Archdiocese is grateful to everyone in parishes, Catholic schools and other locations who work to ensure that the Charter requirements are implemented. We appreciate your efforts and your continued cooperation to help create and maintain safe environments in local Church ministry.

The problem? Well, since the implementation Minnesota’s three-year civil window for adult victims of child sexual abuse, the public has learned that Archdiocese officials have very recently kept perpetrators in ministry and hid a cache of child porn in the chancery basement.

If THIS is compliance in Minnesota, what is going on in other dioceses nationwide? And what else is hiding in the bowels of chancery buildings across the state of Minnesota?

We know one thing they are hiding: None of the bishops in the state have publicly released the names of credibly accused clerics (For the sake of comparison, even Cardinal Roger Mahony put out a list.).

Victims figure that if internal church documents can expose perpetrators and the cover-up of child porn in St. Paul, these lists of credibly accused clerics may expose MORE men in ministry.

If the lists are made public, the names could send shock waves through Minnesota communities.

Despite his claims that he is not covering up abuse, Minneapolis/St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstadt refuses to release the lists. The only way that victims and the public can get access is through the courts. To do that successfully, victims’ attorneys have said in court documents that keeping the lists private is a “public nuisance.”

I have to agree—hiding porn and protecting offenders in ministry are public safety risks—and so is keeping these list of names secret. If this kind of cover-up happened in a school district or other public entity, the public would have the right to file an FOIA request. But without those kinds of rights, victims and the public have been intentionally kept in the dark about abusers. All the while, the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis is patting itself on the back because of its “compliance” rating when it comes to child safety.

Let’s hope that the victims are successful and that other survivors with civil rights across the country are able to do the same.

A side note—Priests in Minneapolis and St. Paul are rightfully angry. When an archdiocese won’t name the bad clerics, how can anyone know who the good clerics are? By covering up the abuse, the Archdiocese has given every priest a huge black eye.


4 thoughts on “Compliance, public nuisance, and some angry priests in MN

  1. As U.S. Catholic bishops enjoy tax exempt status and non-accountability for the moral crimes they have enabled against precious children and families, one can only wonder why an online Catholic publication,, has the need to publish information about a California politician. See

    After reviewing Catholic Online’s Mission Statement at, it amazes me that continued fraud against the public and crimes against children are easily swept under the rug by federal government agencies. You cannot make up this stuff and this Catholic publication is just further evidence that NOTHING HAS CHANGED in 11 years. Maybe U.S. Catholic Bishops should CLEAN UP THEIR OWN HOUSES before they publish unconfirmed information about a Catholic politician. Maybe this is a payback and/or a way to silence others.

  2. I totally agree that nothing has changed as it relates to the public relations strategy referred to as the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. It is a disgrace to witness Catholic leaders and their high-priced attorneys abuse the judicial process, while punishing Whistleblower employees, victims and their families who report crimes against children and/or child endangerment in accordance with the laws of the land. No doubt that the evil conspirators are laughing all the way to the bank. Afterall, the religious institutions that are notorious for protecting sexual predators disguised as members of the clergy maintain tax exempt status and laugh at all of us who must pay taxes.

    If a federal government agency does not intervene in this horrific and scandalous mess that has destroyed the lives of hundreds of children and their parents, then the U.S. justice system is up for grabs to the highest bidder! To those who remain silent and know the truths, speak out. How many more lives of children and their parents will be destroyed, while those in positions to take corrective action play the ostrich?

  3. Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis – Director of Task Force, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

    “Canon law is very eloquent on what a bishop is supposed to do, but there is no list of Thou Shalt Nots,” says Father Reginald Whitt (2002). “These (sex abusers) are criminals, but they are our criminals and we can’t lose them. Indeed, the bishops have a duty to try to save them,” says the Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. (2002)

    “……BISHOPS HAVE A DUTY TO TRY TO SAVE THEM (sex abuser priests)…..” Well, Fr. Whitt, where is it written (no, not in text or canon law…….it is written in one’s heart and soul) that the bishops have a duty to try to save the CHILDREN ABUSED and INNOCENT CHILDREN from the risk of abuse?

    Seems like little has changed since these issues were studied over a decade ago by during the Dallas Charter Charade of the USCCB.

    Father Whitt has a degree in canon law and civil law. Which perspective will take prominence and priority when he reviews the findings of the task force committee he established to review the debacle in the archdiocese? It is humanly, ethically and morally IMPOSSIBLE to avoid/resolve the conflicts of interest from both perspectives (civil and canon law) when attempting to review and support the rights of priests vs the rights of child victims.

    Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kansas City move over…………….here come the Twin Cities and their unique brand of US Catholic Church leadership.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

    1. Captain, how could you forget Newark, NJ. Archbishop Meyers and the archdiocese of Newark have an equally disturbing history of covering up for clergy who molest children. Additionally, recent cases from the diocese’ of Trenton and Camden also qualify. In fact, if the records were were released in New Jersey we would be dubbed the “Cover up Capitol of Clergy Abuse”.

      This difference is in Minneapolis law makers and law enforcement have the courage to fix the law and give victims the opportunity to expose these long hidden secrets. It truth will eventually find the light of day. When law enforcement launches REAL investigations or grand juries are convened we have always learned the number of abusers and abused are far greater than the local church had ever reported.

      Absolutely, American bishops are allowing the cloud of uncertainty and mistrust to linger log a thick blanket of fog over all members of the clergy, simply because they do not posses the courage to “clear the air” and release the entire truth. Releasing the names of credibly accused and known child predators clergy protects children, but it is clear why the vast majority of bishops simply refuse to do this, they face no consequences for skirting civil law. ( one notable exception….Philadelphia).

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