MINNEAPOLIS - The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says it will release names of priests who have sexually abused children.
In an open letter posted Monday on the archdiocese website, Archbishop John Nienstedt says that during the month of November he will disclose the names, locations and status of abusive priests who are currently living in the archdiocese.
Nienstedt says all of these men have been removed from ministry.
On Monday Nienstedt released a letter acknowledging mistakes made in the case of former catholic priest Clarence Vavra. An exclusive report by KARE 11 News Partner MPR published Monday chronicled what it termed "decades of deception" by leaders who promised "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse.
Attorney Mike Finnegan, who has represented a number of victims of clergy sexual abuse, reacted to Nienstedt's letter with skepticism.
"Archbishop Nienstedt should start protecting children today and release the 33 names the Archdiocese has known about since at least 2004," Finnegan said in a written statement released Monday. "For decades this Archdiocese has displayed a pattern and practice of protecting the sexual offender instead of putting the safety of the community and children first. Every day that goes by, every hour that passes, more children are put at risk because of their resistance to take action when a crime has been committed. The ongoing lack of transparency and accountability needs to end."
An MPR News investigation has found that three archbishops -John Roach, Harry Flynn and John Nienstedt - failed to report Vavra to authorities or warn the public. Roach transferred Vavra 11 times in 20 years. Flynn overlooked Vavra's alleged sexual interest in a murderer and in a convicted child rapist, and gave the priest payments above his pension in exchange for agreeing to retire early. Nienstedt stopped the payments, but Vavra continues to live a quiet life in a neighborhood full of children.
Nienstedt told MPR News Saturday that Vavra admitted in 1995 to sexually abusing several young boys and a teenager on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Vavra also admitted to "inappropriate sexual contact with other adult males," Nienstedt said, and received inpatient psychological treatment in 1996.
In fact, Vavra now lives just a block from an elementary school in New Prague, and school officials say no one has ever told them about the former priest's history.
Attorneys for victims of sexual abuse by clergy have repeatedly asked the church to release names of all priests who have been credibly accused. It's not clear if the new disclosures will go beyond names that are already public through lawsuits or media reports.
Nienstedt says there have been mistakes in the way the archdiocese handled abuse cases.
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