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Minnesota Judge Orders Catholic Archdioceses to Release Names of 46 Suspected Pedophile Priests

Cathedral of St. Paul (Wikipedia)

Cathedral of St. Paul (Wikipedia)

A Minnesota judge has ordered two Catholic archdioceses to release the names of 46 clergy members accused of raping or sexually assaulting children.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reports Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North ordered the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Archdiocese of Winona to release the names of 46 suspected pedophile priests by December 17. In addition to their names, the Catholic authorities have been ordered to provide the clergy members’ ages, ordination dates, the parishes in which they served, their current ministerial statuses and whether they are alive or dead.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis began compiling a list of dozens of credibly accused clergy child sex abusers in 2004. That list, which contains 33 names, was allowed to remain private as a result of a 2009 court ruling.

Van de North said many of the names on the list are already known.

Church officials have expressed their desire to cooperate with abuse investigations. The Twin Cities archdiocese even went to court seeking permission to disclose the names of the 33 suspected pedophile priests and other clergy.

“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is grateful for the approval of Ramsey County Court to release information related to priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in our archdiocese,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

But an attorney for Archbishop John Nienstedt said the archdiocese’s leader views the list issue as a “distraction.”

“The archbishop wants the healing to begin,” explained the attorney, Thomas Wieser.

The Archdiocese of Winona reportedly had 13 names on its suspected abusers list. The archdiocese has not said when it will release those names.

Last month, the StarTribune reported that a spike in clergy sex abuse claims in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota was expected.

“This is just the beginning for Minnesota,” Terry McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability, a non-profit organization that documents clergy wrongdoing, told the paper. “The St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese is in a meltdown that perhaps only a dozen dioceses have experienced during the ongoing sexual abuse crisis.”

Bob Schwiderski, head of the Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said Judge Van de North’s ruling was “huge.”

“I think this sets a precedent for other courts,” Schwiderski told the StarTribune. “We’ve got 106 credibly accused priests in diocese of Minnesota. We’ve got 60 to go.”

The Minnesota court ruling came on the same day the Los Angeles Times published an exhaustive article detailing how former Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony covered up clergy child sex abuse and protected pedophile priests from prosecution.

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