MN- Predator priest from Winona rises through clerical ranks

By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
March 17, 2014

Priest with child sex abuse allegations is promoted

He is accused of molesting at least four boys & was sued

But he went overseas and is second-in-command of a diocese

And at least one child sex lawsuit against him has been settled

Argentine native also was ordained in and worked in Winona MN

A Catholic priest who worked in Winona and allegedly molested several boys is now second-in-command at a diocese in Paraguay. And a victims' group wants Minnesota bishops to reach out to others he has hurt and urge the Pope to intervene and defrock him.

Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity was accused of sexually abusing at least four boys at St. Gregory's Academy in a town called Moscow in northeastern Pennsylvania between 2002-2004. At least two civil suits were filed and one of them was settled for $380,000. Scranton Catholic officials sent Fr. Urrutigoity to a church treatment center which concluded that he “should be removed from active ministry and his (priestly) faculties should be revoked.”

But last week, a Boston-based research group called disclosed that Fr. Urrutigoity is now in the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and is its Vicar General. 

In the 1990s, Fr. Urrutigioity lived and taught at the St. Pius X Seminary in Winona. He belonged to a controversial and very conservative religious order known as the Society of St. Pius X.

“What could be more reckless and callous than quietly sending another credibly accused child molesting Catholic cleric overseas to live and work among unsuspecting families?” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's director.

“Ironically, a week ago Pope Francis complained that Catholic officials are 'singled out' and 'picked on' in abuse cases,” Clohessy said. “This case should help him understand why: because his underlings continue to knowingly put kids in harm's way.”

“Transferring predator priests to different dioceses or countries is dreadfully irresponsible but sadly, nothing new,” said Frank Meuers of Plymouth Minnesota, a volunteer SNAP leader. “It is a dangerous and self-serving practice that puts unsuspecting families and children at great risk.”

A spokesman for Bishop Joseph Bambera, who now heads Scranton diocese, claimed last Friday that “in every instance (the previous Scranton bishop) clearly expressed his reservations concerning Father Urrutigoity” “and cautioned the (Paraguay) bishop to not allow Father Urrutigoity into his diocese.”

SNAP leaders, however, are skeptical of this claim and say it misses the mark.

“Private talks or letters among Catholic officials about predator priests rarely protect kids,” said Clohessy. “Public admissions and outreach by Catholic officials is what protects kids.”

“It matters little what US Catholic officials say privately to other Catholic officials,” said Clohessy. “What really matters is when Catholic officials publicly admit that a predator priest is dangerous and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors. Bishops in every place where Fr. Urrutigoity worked should do this now, and insist that the Pope start defrocking him.”

“We hope that Minnesota bishops – especially the head of the Winona diocese, Bishop John Quinn - will step up, show compassion, exercise leadership, and do everything they possibly can to prod those who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Urrutigoity's crimes to call police, and warn Paraguay Catholic officials about this threat to children's safety,” said Clohessy. “And they should go a step further and prod their boss, Pope Francis, who's also from Argentina, to start defrocking Fr. Urrutigoity right now and discipline those who are ignoring and concealing his crimes.”

“During his time in Winona, Fr. Urrutigoity may well have visited – and molested kids at – five or ten or fifteen churches across Minnesota,” Meuers said. “Or kids he may have hurt in Winona may have since moved elsewhere in the state. So every Minnesota bishop has a duty to aggressively seek out anyone who may be suffering in silence, shame and isolation because of Fr. Urrutigoity's crimes.” 



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