Your Turn: Abbey Continues to Put Kids at Risk

By David Clohessy and Bob Schwiderski, SNAP
St. Cloud Times [Minnesota]
February 15, 2007

Playing fast and loose with the truth and our kids, St. John's Abbey in Collegeville was exposed recently for allowing a registered sex offender to lead retreats at the Episcopal House of Prayer, which is on abbey grounds and run under the auspices of the Minnesota Episcopal Diocese.

Lynn Bauman, who runs a rural retreat center in Texas, admitted to molesting an 8-year-old boy on a campus trip in 1996 and was sentenced to 10 years of probation.

He also was defrocked as an Episcopal priest.

But he's continued to hold himself out as a spiritual authority, helped along by the abbey and the diocese.

His brother Ward Bauman serves as director of the House of Prayer in Collegeville, where Lynn was to lead a retreat recently and possibly several more later this year.

Ward Bauman said his brother had suffered and paid for his crime.

Lynn Bauman called himself reformed and criticized abuse survivors for their so-called lack of mercy.

Yet, the Bauman brothers kept the sexual offense a secret from the public. The abbey and the diocese also were silent until news reports surfaced.

Lack of information

Nowhere on the House of Prayer Web site were would-be retreat-goers told their "spiritual" weekend would be guided by a child molester.

The deceit is outrageous and shows how the abbey is willing to play Russian roulette with children.

Near the House of Prayer are residences where children live and a parish where children worship.

And then there's the university campus, which in the summer is filled with boys at programs.

Monk perpetrators circulate throughout the campus, though the abbey's "restrictions" leads the public to believe otherwise.

Lynn Bauman leads retreats in the summer and in the fall as well.

Leadership issues

Mercy and forgiveness for child molesters doesn't mean holding them out as spiritual leaders again.

That's called irresponsibility.

Many predatory priests continue to make a living like Lynn Bauman does — by leading retreats, publishing spiritual books and holding themselves out as spiritual authorities.

If people wanted such guidance, a book titled "The Spiritual Wisdom of Child Molesters" would be atop the best-sellers list.

No such book exists for a reason.

Every time the abbey gets exposed for being a predator's den, Abbot John Klassen speaks tough and trots out the monks' lame sexual abuse review board and policies.

It's a shame of a sham.

This is the opinion of Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata and David Clohessy of St. Louis. They are leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.


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