Frequently Asked Questions about Disclosure of Substantiated Claims

Q: How is the archdiocese disclosing the names of men who have substantiated claims against them of sexually abusing a minor while they were assigned as clergy in our archdiocese?

A: In the interest of accountability, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis maintains a list of names of individuals against whom there is a substantiated claim of abusing a minor. The list is divided according to whether the alleged abuse took place within our archdiocese or outside of the archdiocese. A substantiated claim is one for which sufficient evidence exists to establish reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse occurred. It is not a presumption of guilt. Also included in this list are men from other dioceses and religious orders, including an order priest who is accused of abusing before he was ordained. The initial disclosure list was posted in December 2013. The most recent was January 2017.

Information about individuals who are the subjects of substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor are posted under accountability at SafeEnvironmentSPM.org. The disclosure information includes the following, if known: the man’s name, date of birth, date of ordination, known assignment history, the diocese or religious order to which he belongs or belonged, the date he was removed from ministry and current ministry status.

Most of the reported incidents of abuse occurred between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s. All men who were assigned here have been permanently removed from ministry in this archdiocese; most of them have been out of ministry for a decade or more. Many are deceased.

Q: What is a substantiated claim?

A:. A substantiated claim is one for which sufficient evidence exists to establish reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse occurred. It is not a presumption of guilt.

What is a credible claim?

A: A credible claim is one that is not manifestly false or frivolous.

Q: Why did the archdiocese commit in 2013 to disclose the names of men with substantiated claims of sexual abuse against them while they were in ministry?

A: Appropriate disclosure is critically important if we are to do all that we can to keep children safe, help victims/survivors of abuse heal, and regain the trust and confidence of our communities.

Q: Who conducted the external review of clergy files begun in December 2013 and completed in April 2014?

A: Kinsale Management Consulting was founded by Kathleen McChesney, a former top FBI official with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience.  She also served as the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office for Child Protection from its beginning in 2002 until mid-2005. During this time, she developed and oversaw a national compliance mechanism to ensure that all Catholic dioceses complied with civil laws and internal policies relative to the prevention, reporting and response to the sexual abuse of minors.

Q: What was the scope of the Kinsale review of clergy files?

A: Beginning in December 2013, Kinsale reviewed the clergy files of all men in ministry as clergy in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis at any point from 1970 to early 2014. Kinsale reviewed more than 3,000 clergy files before completing their work in April 2014. The purpose of the review was to determine whether there are additional cases of sexual abuse or other misconduct that require investigation by law enforcement, disclosure to the public or other action by the archdiocese. Several clergy members were publicly disclosed as a result of this file review.

Q: Why is information about some priests or former priests being made public by plaintiffs’ attorneys?

A: As a part of discovery in the Doe 1 case, the archdiocese released certain files to plaintiffs’ attorneys. Some of these files were sealed and some were unsealed. If files are unsealed, that means that their content is not required to be maintained as confidential. Only files relating to substantiated claims were unsealed.

Q: What is the threshold for removing a priest from public ministry?

A: If the archdiocese receives a credible claim of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, a clergy member will be removed from public ministry, pending investigation in cooperation with civil authorities. Pursuant to the Child Protection Protocols, the archdiocese will not interfere in any way with law enforcement investigation.

Q: Can a priest who sexually abused of a minor ever be put back into public ministry?

A: No. A priest who is known to have sexually abused a minor can never return to public ministry.

Q: Will the archdiocese continue to disclose names of clergy if claims of sexual abuse against them are substantiated?

A: Yes. The archdiocese is committed to prudent and ongoing disclosure. If a claim is determined to be substantiated, whether from the review of clergy files by outside experts, information from law enforcement, our own investigation, or some other means, we will add the name of the clergy member to the disclosure section of our website. We will also share this substantiated claim information with the public by notifying parishes where the man was previously assigned, posting statements on our website and releasing information to the media.

Q: Why not make all accusations against clergy public?

A: Some claims against clergy may not be established as substantiated. It would be wrong to publicize these men’s names when there is insufficient evidence to establish reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse occurred.

Q: Have any of these men with substantiated claims been permanently removed from the priesthood by being dismissed from the clerical state (laicized)?

A: Some men named on the disclosure lists have been laicized. Laicization of some other men is in process. Dismissal from the clerical state, also known as laicization, is a complicated process of canon law (Church law) that may or may not be an available or appropriate option. Circumstances such as the age and health of the cleric, the amount of time that has passed since the abuse occurred, and the availability of evidence are all factors to be considered. Regardless of whether a cleric is laicized, under no circumstances can a cleric who has sexually abused a minor ever return to ministry.

Q: What does canon law require regarding the removal of abusive clergy from ministry?

A: A priest who has sexually abused a minor must be removed from ministry immediately and permanently. A bishop who has received a report of sexual abuse of a minor must work with the Holy See in Rome to determine the most appropriate resolution to the priest’s status.

Q: Are the men on the disclosure list being supported financially or in other ways by the archdiocese?  Where does this money come from?

A: Financial support varies depending on the individual circumstances. The archdiocese has an obligation under canon law to ensure that no man ordained a priest is left destitute. All men who served as priests are legally entitled to receive priest pension benefits and supplemental health coverage that have accrued. Pension and retirement health care payments are paid from the priest pension trust and medical benefits trust.

Q: What is the source of funds for payments for legal settlements and other costs related to clergy sexual abuse?

A: The sources are insurance coverage, investment income, and unrestricted donations to the archdiocesan Chancery Corporation.

Q: What should a person do if he or she recognizes a name on the disclosure list and has concerns about further risks the man may pose?

A: Any concerns should be conveyed to local law enforcement. In addition, a person with such concerns is encouraged to notify the archdiocese’s Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment at (651) 291-4400.