The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.
By Jennifer Haselberger
January 23, 2015
I, perhaps more than anyone, want to believe that the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has changed. I want to believe the statements of leadership that they are putting the needs of victims and the safety of children above self-interest and the protection of clergy, and I want to believe that all of their new employees and new initiatives are having a positive impact on the way the Archdiocese is responding to sexual abuse committed by clergy.
But I don't.
From where I stand, the old adage applies: changes wrought from turbulent times do not impact the reality of the situation except to cement the status quo. Never was this more obvious than with the absolutely unconscionable situation that resulted from the release last week of the file of Father William Stolzman.
The release of Father Stolzman's file, amongst six others, had been agreed upon as part of the ongoing negotiations of the Doe 1 settlement. Along with the release of the six files, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis issued the following statement:
Statement Regarding Unsealing of Priest Files
Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Source: Anne Steffens, Interim Director of CommunicationsFrom Archbishop John Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
By virtue of an agreement reached between Jeff Anderson and Associates and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the Doe 1 case, the files of seven current or former priests previously assigned to the Archdiocese have been unsealed. One of the files, that of Rev. Michael Keating, was publicly released earlier this week.
Two of the priests are/were of religious orders. Of these seven men whose files were unsealed, one left the priesthood in 1990, one is deceased, one is retired, one is prohibited from ministry, one has restrictions placed on his ministry, and two are on leaves of absence.
What this statement does not say (following a long tradition in the Archdiocese of telling people what they want to hear, rather than what is true), is that one of the seven was- at the time of the announcement- actually a regularly scheduled Sunday presider at a parish in the Archdiocese (even on days when the Children's Choir would be present), as well as an Archdiocesan-appointed chaplain to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee.
As you might imagine, the fact of a credibly accused priest still being in ministry (despite numerous promises to the contrary) came as a surprise to parishioners and other concerned individuals, and they brought their concerns to the attention of Chancery officials, who initially explained the oversight as being the result of a lack of communication between Chancery staff and the attorneys working with the Special Master. This morning, however, the Archdiocese posted a new announcement on its website:
Statement Regarding Rev. William Stolzman
Date: Friday, January 23, 2015
Source: Anne Steffens, Interim Director of Communications
From Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
In 2008, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis received an allegation that the Rev. William Stolzman sexually abused a minor in the 1970s. Law enforcement investigated and did not refer the case for criminal charges. After an investigation by the Archdiocese, the Clergy Review Board reviewed the case and recommended that Rev. Stolzman remain in ministry. Rev. Stolzman retired in 2008.
The Archdiocese has reopened its investigation of the alleged 1970s abuse. Rev. Stolzman has been placed on a leave of absence and will not exercise priestly ministry during the current investigation.
The Archdiocese has since removed Father Stolzman's name from the list of those involved in Archdiocesan Correctional Ministries, but I saved a copy of the page yesterday and am adding it below. You can also find Father Stolzman listed as the weekend presider in the bulletins of Saint Michael's in Farmington, beginning with the week of December 7, 2014.
I plan to post a longer piece on the contents of the Stolzman file later today. In the meantime, I want to express what I believe many of you are probably feeling as a result of reading this post:
Enough. Enough of the lies, enough of the subterfuge, enough of the excuses.