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Archdiocese to release names of accused priests on Thursday [UPDATE]

Archbishop John Nienstedt was the subject of our June 20, 2012, cover story.
Archbishop John Nienstedt was the subject of our June 20, 2012, cover story.

-- Updated with a statement the Diocese of Winona --

After years of resistance, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has vowed to reveal the names of priests suspected of sexually abusing children through its website and newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, as soon as Thursday.

A Ramsey County judge Monday gave his blessing on the release and set a deadline of Dec. 17. Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials would comply with the order but declined to comment on how many names would be released.

MPR reports that the archdiocese is considering withholding four of the 33 names on a list that was compiled in 2004 and later sealed by the court. Supposedly relying on a third-party review of its files, the archdiocese has suggested that the claims against three men could not be substantiated and another never served within its boundary.

SEE ALSO: Archbishop John Nienstedt crusades against gay marriage

A statement from the archdiocese says the information to be released Thursday -- including the current whereabouts of the accused -- is related to incidents that occurred between the mid 1950s and 80s. All of the men are either dead or no longer in the ministry.

Here's the rest of the statement:

These disclosures are not intended to be final. A comprehensive review of clergy files is ongoing presently and the list will be updated regularly as additional announcements are made in the future. This new level of disclosure is part of a comprehensive and cohesive set of actions we have been taking this fall to address the issues associated with clergy sexual misconduct in our archdiocese. These disclosure practices may evolve in the future as we progress with our disclosure, including recommendations that may be made by the independent task force or through the review of our clergy files by an outside firm.

Our goals are to protect the young and vulnerable, care for victims of abuse, and restore trust among the laity, as well as our clergy who are serving honorably. Those who have been victimized by these horrible crimes have been deeply hurt. It is our hope that disclosure of these names can assist victims in their healing process. Any sexual abuse of minors by clergy members cannot and will not be tolerated. As we have previously stated, anyone having knowledge of clergy sexual misconduct should immediately call law enforcement and is encouraged to notify the archdiocese.

Last month, the St. Paul police department denied reports that Nienstedt and other church officials were under investigation in connection with possible child porn found on a computer that belonged to the Rev. John Shelley. Whether it'll stay that way after is an open question. Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, said the department's hands are tied until the list comes out on Thursday.

"We've got to wait to wait," he said. "We're totally reactionary at this point."

A Ramsey County judge Monday also ordered the Diocese of Winona to release the names of 13 priests suspected of sexually abusing children. It has yet to comment publicly.

::: UPDATE :::

The Diocese of Winona says it will "fully cooperate" with the judge's order but has not given a precise date. Click through to the next page to read it in full.

 

Full statement released Tuesday afternoon:

The Diocese of Winona will fully cooperate with the Order issued by the Ramsey County Court yesterday compelling disclosure of the names of thirteen (13) priests of the Diocese of Winona who were identified, in connection with a blind study conducted by the College of John Jay in 2002, as having credible accusations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them. The Diocese of Winona will provide the following information with respect to each priest: name, date of birth, year of ordination, whether the priest is alive or deceased, all parishes where the priest served within the Diocese of Winona, current ministerial status, and most current address known by the Diocese of Winona.
 
The Diocese of Winona is committed to the protection of children and the safe environment of our parishes, schools and greater communities. We encourage anyone, or any organization, with information regarding the abuse or exploitation of children or young people to immediately report that information to law enforcement. The Diocese of Winona has fully adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ("the Charter"), as promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Diocese of Winona works vigorously, and has taken extraordinary measures, to ensure that all of the schools and parishes in the Diocese adhere to the Charter, which sets forth obligations to conduct background searches on all employees and volunteers, to provide training to all employees and volunteers with respect to identifying warning signs of sexual abuse of children, and to immediately report instances of sexual abuse. We are committed to the protection and safety of all those entrusted to our care.


-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com


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