Priest Calls out Archbishop over Clergy Sex Abuse Response

The Fox 9
October 29, 2013

[with video]

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

In churches and living rooms across the metro, the debate is on over how the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has handled allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members -- but one priest used the power of the pulpit on during Sunday's sermon.

At Church of the Assumption, the faithful fill the pews every Sunday to hear from their parish priests -- and they got an earful this past weekend as the preacher took aim at church leaders over the growing scandal.

During his 6.5-minute homily, Father Stephen O'Gara admitted he's never gotten along with Archbishop John Nienstedt, and he didn't pull any punches when it came to the archbishop's response to allegations of clergy abuse and cover-ups.

"It's not going to be through e-mails and letters in the 'Catholic Spirit.' He needs to stand before us and explain himself," O'Gara insisted. "Only then will he have the respect called to his office."

O'Gara went on to say he believes the scandal is about arrogance, and he openly confessed that he feels conflicted about the Church's state of affairs.

"This is not some small matter. This is a big deal. It's the first time, I must say, in 69 years that I'm embarrassed to be a Catholic," O'Gara said.

After the homily, the congregation broke out into a round of applause, which can be heard on the recording Ann Farrell made.

"I wanted to share and have people read it, hear the words O'Gara said prior to losing their faith in the church," she explained.

Farrell accidentally recorded the homily while trying to record the choir. In it, O'Gara urged his congregation to read the column written by Reuben Rosario, a writer for the Pioneer Press. After hearing the sermon for himself, Rosario said many of the sentiments the priest expressed echoed his own -- and he was happy to hear them voiced.

"Dynamic, refreshing for some parishioners who want the archdiocese to come clean," Rosario said of O'Gara's words. "To me, what O'Gara said was something that needs to be said [by] someone in his position."

Rosario also believes the archbishop will need to be more open if he wants to have a prayer of regaining the trust of local Catholics.

Fox 9 News reached out to both O'Gara and a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, but did not hear a response from either.


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