The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 4, 2013

Archdiocese braces parish leaders for disclosure of accused priests

Archdiocese says 92 parishes have had at least one priest on the list assigned to them

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sent an email to priests and parish leaders on Wednesday, bracing them for its upcoming disclosure of the names of more than two dozen clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

In the email, obtained by The Associated Press, the archdiocese said 92 parishes have had at least one priest on the list assigned to them at some point. Those parishes were notified in a separate email that they would be affected, and letters were also mailed to them Tuesday, Wednesday's email said.

The email also offers reassurances to other parishes: "If the pastor or parochial administrator of your parish did not receive a general notification email last Saturday, that means that none of the men who will be disclosed this week were ever assigned at your parish in the past."

The archdiocese has said it plans on Thursday to disclose the names of at least 29 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The names are part of a list compiled in 2004 as part of a nationwide study to determine the scope of clergy sex abuse.

Across the country, roughly two dozen archdioceses and dioceses have already made such lists public.

The archdiocese has said most of the allegations that led to priests being on its list relate to reported incidents occurring from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. All were permanently removed from ministry or are deceased, and most have already been publicly named in the media.

Attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse sought for years to make the list public, arguing it's in the interest of public safety. But church leaders resisted until now, saying it could harm the reputations of wrongly accused priests. They argued the term "credibly accused," coined by the 2004 study, has a low threshold and meant that any report of abuse that was "not implausible" was included.

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