Even More Damning Evidence of Archdiocesan Cover Up; SNAP Responds
By Bob Schwiderski
October 7, 2013
“There is no record of anyone contacting police. (Archbishop Harry) Flynn allowed (Fr. Jonathan) Shelley to return to ministry.” Those two damning sentences are from the latest disturbing Minnesota Public Radio report outlining the secretive, irresponsible and likely illegal way Twin Cities Catholic officials hid thousands of pornographic pictures on Fr. Jonathan Shelley’s computer.
Fr. Shelley’s computers should have been given to law enforcement at the first hint of sexual impropriety. But MPR reports that in 2004 “a private investigator that found that many of the depictions” on Fr. Shelley’s computer “could be considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful-looking male image.” That too should have prompted Catholic officials to give the computers to police.
But church officials again kept near-certain crimes secret. The computers were destroyed. And now, Fr. Shelley continues to walk free, a decade later.
According to MPR, in a memo, dated Jan. 27, 2013, Fr. Kevin McDonough, who headed the Church’s child-safety program, told (Archbishop) Nienstedt that at least four of the images were “’quite likely of minors.’”
What arrogance to assume that because you know church theology and music and history you’re somehow an unbiased authority on child pornography.
Our duty as citizens is to call the police when we suspect crimes may have happened. It’s not to hide evidence, split hairs, parse words, and write secret memos and letters to colleagues if we suspect crimes may have happened.
The fact that” the archdiocese declined to make (Archbishop Harry) Flynn, (Archbishop John) Nienstedt and (Fr. Kevin) McDonough available for interviews speaks volumes about how desperate they are to avoid facing tough questions about their inexcusable actions.
The Twin Cities archdiocesan hierarchy seems rotten to the core, and determined to ignore secular laws and handle possible crimes “in house.” Now more than ever, it’s critical that law enforcement step up, along with every current and former Catholic employee who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual misdeeds, crimes or cover ups.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Victims release undisclosed letter from church official
Archdiocese delayed 9 months before answering abuse complaint
And the letter “outs” another local predator priest for the first time
Even now, church officials keep identity of child molesting cleric hidden
“Those responsible should be harshly and publicly punished,” SNAP says
Group also wants archbishop to “come clean” about all child molesting clerics
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will disclose a letter from a high-ranking archdiocesan staffer that
—“outs” a predator priest for the first time,
—admits he has molested several children, and
—shows that it took church officials almost a year to reply to an abuse report.
The victims will also blast Twin Cities Catholic officials for keeping the predator’s name secret, even now, and push the archbishop to
– severely discipline at least two local church staff for their callousness and secrecy in this case and
– disclose the names of every child molesting clerics in the archdiocese and permanently post their names on his website.
–beg every person who saw, suspected and suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Minnesota (especially current and ex-Catholic employees) to come forward, call police, protect others and start healing.
TODAY, Monday, Oct. 7 at 2:00 p.m.
Outside the Catholic headquarters (‘chancery office,’) 226 Summit Ave. (corner of Selby) St. Paul, MN
Two-three clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Wayzata MN man who is the organization’s state director, a Missouri man who is the organization’s national director, and a Plymouth MN man who waited nine months for a reply from top archdiocesan staffers
In Nov. 2010, abuse victim Frank Meuers of Plymouth MN wrote to a high-ranking archdiocesan staffer reporting that he had been molested as a child by a priest. No church official, however, replied to Meuers until Aug. 2011, more than nine months later.
Meuers wrote to Dennis McGrath, the long-time head of the archdiocesan public relations team, who passed the letter along to Fr. Kevin McDonough, the then-second-in-command of the archdiocese and the staffer who was assigned to deal with clergy sexual abuse.
The offender is Fr. Rudolph Henrich. In his reply to Meuers, Fr. McDonough admitted that Fr. Rudolph Henrich is guilty, writing “I have addressed meetings at (a) parish (where Fr. Henrich worked) and spoken with several individual who were abuse by him.”
But no church official – at the time or since then – ever admitted to parents, parishioners or the public that Fr. Henrich was a child molester. Even now, there is nothing on the archdiocesan website or any parish website or bulletin (as best SNAP can tell) about Fr. Henrich.
SNAP believes this secrecy violates “common sense, common decency, and the abuse policies of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.”
The group wants church officials to “come clean” about every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives/has lived or works/has worked in the archdiocese. SNAP also wants Archbishop John Nienstadt to harshly and publicly punish every staffer who hid the abuse. And the group wants the names, photos and whereabouts of predator priests permanently posted on the archdiocesan and parish websites.
In 2002, Baltimore archdiocesan officials posted names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on their website. Since then, roughly 30 other dioceses have done this. It’s “the quickest, cheapest and safest way to warn families about predators,” SNAP says.
The group has repeatedly prodded the last three Twin Cities archbishops to “take this bare minimum safety step.” But they have ignored SNAP’s requests. No bishop, SNAP points out, has ever expressed regrets for having posted the names.
Meuers’ abuse took place in the 1950s and 1960s at St. Margaret Mary parish in Golden Valley. Meuers believes that “it seemed to be well known among some parishioners and evidently other priests and officials that this was going on with boys in the parish. To my knowledge, nothing was ever done to rectify this situation.”
Fr. Henrich also worked as a chaplain in the Navy and at a state training school for boys in Red Wing. He also worked in Winstead (Most Holy Trinity parish), Stewart (St. Boniface parish) and St. Paul (St. James parish). According to BishopAccountability.org, he also spent one year (1977) in Glendale AZ.
Fr. Henrich was a priest for almost 60 years before passing away in 1992. A photo of him and his work history will be given out at the news conference. Some information about him can be found at BishopAccountability.org
David Clohessy 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Bob Schwiderski 952 471 3422, firstname.lastname@example.org, Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com