Archdiocese of
St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis (“the Archdiocese”), established as a diocese in 1850 and elevated to archdiocese in 1888, encompasses 12 counties in eastern Minnesota. Its 221 parishes serve a Catholic community of 786,000 persons. Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, appointed in September 1995, is assisted by two bishops, 224 archdiocesan priests, and 211 deacons. There are 31 preschools, 89 elementary schools, and 11 secondary schools. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of June 2-5, 2003. It is noted that the audit of the Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis was part of the testing protocol for this audit process.

The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit. Information on corrective actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.


To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese established an effective outreach program in 1988. Archbishop Flynn or his delegate has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese. Phyllis Willerscheidt, victim assistance coordinator, is an experienced, highly regarded victims/survivors advocate. A nine-member review board comprising diverse, well qualified professional people provides confidential counsel to the archbishop. A Recommendation was issued for the Archdiocese to identify a single archdiocesan official responsible for proactively addressing the problem of abuse of children and young adults. Procedures for filing a complaint of sexual abuse are readily available in several formats, including a brochure. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into since June 2002 unless requested by the victim/survivor. A Commendation was issued to acknowledge the archbishop’s leadership and commitment to proactively addressing allegations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor.

To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has routinely reported allegations of abuse and also maintained effective liaison with local civil authorities. Procedures are in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. Archdiocesan personnel were found to have reacted quickly to allegations of abuse and were proactive in securing the interests of alleged victims/survivors and offenders alike. It was recommended that the Archdiocese create a central repository for each allegation, rather than including related documents in the personnel file of the accused and to include in each incident file a checklist, in order to ensure a consistent archdiocesan response. No archdiocesan standards of conduct had been issued or promulgated, and an Instruction was issued in that regard. The Archdiocese has demonstrated a commitment to a communications policy of openness and transparency, consistent with due process. The archbishop and his staff have visited parishes directly affected by clergy misconduct. It was recommended that visits by archdiocesan officials be used as an opportunity to maintain an awareness of the concerns of the congregation and that a peer process be created to secure grassroots-level engagement of the Charter throughout the parishes and entire archdiocesan organization.

To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese has participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Archdiocese has established a safe environment program that provides training for clergy, personnel, educators, and parents. A Recommendation addressed the requirement to ensure the inclusion of volunteers and others who have regular contact with children. An Instruction addressed the need to conduct background evaluations for all diocesan personnel, including independent contractors and volunteers. A variety of screening and evaluation techniques are employed in considering the fitness of candidates for ordination. No member of the clergy against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse has been lodged has been transferred outside the Archdiocese for either ministerial or residency purposes. The archbishop and his staff have met with major superiors and other representatives of clerical institutions and discussed respective responses to allegations of clergy misconduct. Since 1985 the Archdiocese has been active in a number of ecumenical and interdisciplinary forums and organizations. The Archdiocese employs systematic ongoing formation for priests.

Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter

At the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis was issued one Instruction, one Recommendation, and one Commendation.

INSTRUCTION 1—The Archdiocese will issue and promulgate standards of conduct and appropriate boundaries for clergy and other persons in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and will expand existing background evaluations to include contractors and volunteers.

RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Archdiocese take the following actions: (a) identify a single archdiocesan official responsible for coordinating the responses and measures to address the problem of abuse of minors; (b) create a central document repository for each allegation; (c) create a checklist to ensure a consistent response to allegations; (d) periodically confirm that offenders remain in compliance with the requirements of the Charter; (e) use parish visits by archdiocesan officials to maintain an awareness of the concerns of congregations; and (f) create a peer process to secure grassroots-level engagement of the Charter throughout the 221 parishes and entire archdiocesan organization.

COMMENDATION 1—For early and ongoing archdiocesan leadership, commencing in 1988, in publicly confronting issues involving the sexual abuse of minors and developing assertive outreach and victim-assistance initiatives.

As of December 1, 2003, the Instruction and Recommendation had been addressed. The Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis is compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I.

The compliance audit measured activity that has occurred since the adoption of the Charter in June 2002 with the exception of certain mandated actions found in Articles 5 and 14. Actions taken by the diocese/eparchy prior to June 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons are not included in this summary report.


Office of Child and Youth Protection
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
(202) 541-5413 | FAX: (202) 541-5410
January 22, 2004 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops