ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is working to restore trust among Catholics and the public at large, in the wake of the latest clergy sex abuse disclosures.
The archdiocese Thursday complied with a court order to release the names of 34 former priests, 30 of whom were deemed by the church to have substantiated claims of abuse.
Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has come under fire from some advocates, issued a lengthy statementin the online edition ofThe Catholic Spirit newspaper, detailing efforts to aggressively pursue reports of abuse.
Fr. Nienstedt also pledged to involve law enforcement in theprocess immediately, and to publish the names of verified offenders in a special section of the Archdiocesan website.
"All clergy feel the shame of the acts of some of their brother priests," Nienstedt wrote.
"We deeply regret the pain caused by sexual abuse by members of the clergy, and we remain committed to protecting children and promoting healing for victims."
The priests on the list were named initially in theJohn Jay Report in 2004, as part of a national reviewby the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.The names were known to the Archdiocese but not made public untilThursday.
"Thislist touches every corner of the Archdiocese," Charles Reid, a University of St. Thomas law school professor, told KARE.
"We see names of people who've served in rural settings, in suburban settings, in the city, in positions high and low across the archdiocese."
Reid, acanon lawyer and expert on the church's legal system, said there are no quick fixes for what has transpired during the scandals and the court cases they have spawned.
"Restoring trust is a long, long process," he remarked.
"Healing takes time, but this is a necessary first step in that healing process, and then we'll see what happens going forward."
Outside the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, parishioners leaving noon Mass had generally positive reviews of the decision by the church to release the names of the accused priests.
"I believe in justice, and I do really believe our bishops and archbishops will be led by the Holy Spirit to bring this thing to justice," Ann Casey told KARE.
She expressed confidence that the church in general will recover from the clergy abuse scandals.
"I pray each and every day for those who have been victims of these abuses, and I pray for God's grace.I hope we all follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis."
The release of the list came the same day that the Catholic cardinals, meetingin Vatican City, announced that Pope Francis has authorized a new commission to study sex abuseworldwideand the response of church leaders.
"Until now there has been so much focus on the judicial parts of this, but the pastoral response is very, very important," Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, theArchbishop of Boston, told reporters.
"The Holy Father is very concerned about that."
John Thavis, who covered the Vatican for 30 years as a reporter for the Catholic News Service in Rome, said many church members are looking to see if the Pope will remove bishops that were at fault.
"The healing they're calling for, the rebuilding of trust, really requires accountability of bishops," Thavis told KARE.
"What a lot of Catholics here in America are asking for is accountability. They want to see Bishops removed or demoted, or in some way facing the consequences of their mistakes."
Thavis said the very notion of the Vatican "cracking down" onbishopsreveals a major difference betweenthe Holy SeeandAmerican church members.
He said in all the years of the clergy abuse scandal the Vatican has never insisted that any bishops step down or be reassigned. On the contrary, bishops are the men generally charged with the task of dealing with unpleasant situations.
"The Vatican's attitude, in part, is that it's part of a bishop's job, that he own up to the problem, that he try to repair the hurt and the harm , and that he doesn't just walk away from it."