Q: Why was the Task Force established?
A: The independent Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force was established in October 2013 to conduct a thorough review of the policies, procedures and processes aimed at establishing and maintaining safe environments in ministry. The Task Force was comprised of law enforcement, legal experts and community leaders and it completed its work when it submitted its Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force Report and Recommendations to the archbishop in April 2014. The process of implementing Task Force recommendations is now underway.
Q: What was the outcome of the Task Force’s work?
A: The Task Force submitted its Report and Recommendations to Protect Children from Clergy Sexual Abuse in April 2014 The Task Force recommendations include specific actions to be taken that require norms, structures, and procedures to be developed for their implementation. The Vicar for Ministerial Standards, Fr. Reginald Whitt, O.P., is overseeing the implementation of the recommendations, which Archbishop John Nienstedt, who at the time served as archbishop for the archdiocese, pledged to implement. Implementation is now underway. A key step forward is the naming of Judge Timothy J. O’Malley as the Director of the new Office of Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards in August 2014.
The archdiocese will provide periodic updates on the status of implementation of the recommendations, which are focused in six areas:
- Safe Environment Organizational Structure
- Auditing and Monitoring of the Safe Environment Program
- Record keeping and Electronic Information
- Reporting of Suspected Misconduct
- Seminary Candidate Selection and Ongoing Evaluation
- Enhanced Implementation of “The Essential Three” Adult Requirements
Q: Who was on the Task Force?
A: You may see lengthier biographies of the Task Force members in the Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force Report and Recommendations.
- Kathleen Erickson DiGiorno, an attorney at Medtronic. From 2006 to 2010, she served as the company’s chief ethics and compliance officer.
- Julie Oseid, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where she has taught since 2004. Previously, Oseid practiced law at Oppenheimer, Wolff, and Donnelly; between 1991 and 2004 she was at home raising three children.
- Vicki Oster, is a general pediatrician at Southdale Pediatric Associates, Ltd., where she has been in practice since 1994. She is a member of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis, where she has taught safe environment lessons for the past seven years to sixth- through ninth-graders in faith formation classes.
- Brook T. Schaub, manager of computer forensics/e-discovery at Eide Bailly, LLP. Previously, he served as an instructor for the National Law Center for Children and Families and the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children, where he led courses for prosecutors and law enforcement officers around the world on Internet crimes against children and digital evidence. He is a retired St. Paul Police sergeant.
- Brian P. Short, chief executive officer of Leamington Co., a holding company with interests in transportation, community banking, agricultural production and real estate. He also serves as a legal mediator and previously served as a United States magistrate.
- Colleen Striegel, director of human resources and administration for the American Refugee Committee. In that capacity, she was part of the first international team to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of refugees by aid workers in West Africa in the early 2000s.
- Michael D. Thompson, M.S.W., Psy.D., a Minnesota licensed psychologist who has worked extensively in the area of sex offender assessment and treatment. He is the president of the Minnesota Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.
Q: Were the Task Force members paid by the Archdiocese?
A: No, all members of the Task Force were concerned citizens who have generously given of their time and expertise.
Q: Were all of the Task Force’s members Catholic?
Q: Was Fr. Whitt a member of the Task Force?
A: No. His role in relation to the Task Force was to select members, provide general direction regarding their scope, ensure they receive whatever resources they need to complete their work, receive their findings and recommendations, ensure that the Task Force’s recommendations are in compliance with both civil and church law, and implement recommended changes to policy, procedure or practices related to clergy sexual misconduct.
Q: How long will Fr. Whitt serve as Vicar for Ministerial Standards?
A: The appointment is for a renewable two-year term. He was first appointed in October 2013.
Q: How were the expenses associated with the Task Force paid?
A: The work of the Task Force did not create any new cost to parishes. Costs were covered by reallocating the necessary funds from current department budgets of the archdiocesan Chancery Corporation.
Q: Does the Task Force continue to do work?
A: No. The Task Force’s work is completed and it has no further duties.