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  Statement of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in Response to Mr. Jeffrey Anderson's Press Conference of Thursday, October 17

PR Newswire
October 17, 2002

St. Paul — The Archdiocese absolutely rejects the charge of "re-victimization" of this or any victim.

The facts are these: the complainant in this matter came to the Archdiocese about two and a half years ago. She voiced concerns that were both vague and inconsistent with the known offense pattern of the priest involved. Nevertheless, we offered the kinds of services that were called for by our 1992 and 1998 pastoral statements on sexual misconduct. We invited her continued conversation with the Archdiocese, especially with the help of an advocate to assist her. Because she informed us that she was under psychiatric care, we were then and have remained reluctant to contact her without her indication that she wished to talk with us. It comes as a complete surprise that she chose to reopen her contact with us now through a news conference.

Victims who approach any of the major churches in Minnesota, including the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, are immediately offered the assistance of victim advocates who help them through a complaint and healing process. These advocates operate at "arm's-length" from the churches they help victims contact. They are trained by secular victim-services experts. Our hope is that those who now claim to be assisting the complainant in this matter will focus on her genuine needs, as the Archdiocese attempted to do.

The Archdiocese welcomes public scrutiny of all aspects of our response to sexual abuse by clergy, and we have done so for over a decade. Whether the already-crowded courts should be saddled with further scrutiny is a matter for the courts themselves to decide. However, Mr. Anderson's proposal that a church could not contact its own members without court supervision, as suggested in his publicity release, is a violation of our best American traditions.

The situation of the former priest named in the complaint, Gilbert Gustafson, has been widely covered several times in Twin Cities media. Prior to the approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, he was engaged in administrative work and celebrated Mass regularly for a community of cloistered nuns. This was consistent with our publicly- disclosed policies. We reject the statement that we represented anything different to this or any other victim. Since Archbishop Flynn led the nation's bishops in the approval of the Charter last June, he applied the discipline of the Charter to Gilbert Gustafson. Mr. Gustafson has left all priestly practice and is in a process of transition.

 
 

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