Twin Cities Crisis Gets Worse & Weirder

By Barbara Dorris
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
November 18, 2013

The St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocesan abuse and cover up crisis is getting worse…and weirder.

Let’s start with the “weirder” part. An admitted predator priest there “met with Fr. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general, to talk about two topics — his relationship with a serial killer and his sexual interest in a convicted child rapist.”

It’s not enough that Fr. Clarence Vavra molested kids. He also apparently was (or is) close to two men. One is a serial murderer and the other was imprisoned for raping his son. 

“Weirder still: Fr. Vavra was (or is) sexually attracted to a convicted murderer and child rapist.”

A long-secret church memo says that “Fr. Vavra views Jim [the convicted child rapist] as his best friend.” When asked if he “intended to remain celibate once Jim was released from prison,” Fr. Vavra replied that “he was simply not sure that he could promise that."

By the way, I deliberately use Fr. Vavra’s title – “Father” – because he still is one.  Almost 20 years ago, he admitted sexually assaulting Native American kids on a reservation in South Dakota.

But he’s still a priest. In fact, for years, he’s been getting an extra $650 a month, above the pay that regular, non-criminal Catholic priests get every month.

And here’s how the archdiocese’s crisis is getting worse: Almost two decades ago, Fr. Vavra admitted sexually assaulting kids. Top church staffers, like Fr. Kevin McDonough, knew about this admission. Yet they kept Fr. Vavra on the job, moved him to new parishes, but never told anyone. And they never told the police.

Ponder this for a second. Almost two decades ago, Fr. McDonough and his peers knew Fr. Vavra was a serial child molester. Almost a dozen years ago, Fr. McDonough and his peers formally and publicly accepted a new national and allegedly binding church policy that supposedly mandated:

--putting the safety of kids first,

--promptly telling police about child sex crimes, and

--being “open and transparent” about abuse.

Twin Cities Catholic officials – McDonough, lawyer Andrew Eisenzimmer, Archbishop Harry Flynn, and Archbishop John Nienstedt – did none of this. They violated common sense, common decency, and church rules by hiding – from police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners and the public – perhaps the strongest possible evidence of child sex crimes: an admission by the molester himself.

It pains me to say this, but I’m virtually certain that Fr. Vavra sexually assaulted one or more child over the past 20 years. That child would have been spared devastating harm if only Fr. McDonough and his colleagues made one simple call: to the police.

Ask yourself this: If top Minneapolis Catholic officials will keep an admitted serial child molester out of jail and on the job and hidden from the police, year after year after year, even into 2013, how many other predators are they protecting right now?


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