Bishop Accountability


Accused Priests: 17 (14 diocesan and 4 order priests, minus one exonerated)
Total Priests: 350 (diocesan, order, and extern priests)
Persons Making Allegations: 41 (after one allegation withdrawn)
Cost: $1,377,933 (of which $738,582 for settlements, $233,745 for legal costs, and $405,606 for pastoral care)
Source of Funds: insurers paid $724,258 ($561,750 for settlements, $155,508 for legal costs, and $7,000 for pastoral care)

See Cathy Lynn Grossman, Survey: More Clergy Abuse Cases Than Previously Thought (2/10/04) with AP table of data for 74 dioceses.

Letter from Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Dear Friends in Christ,

As you are aware, when the bishops of the United States met in Dallas in June 2002 to address the serious issue of clergy sexual misconduct, they approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and called for an audit of every diocese to assure compliance with the requirements of the charter. Our diocesan audit took place in early July, and I have been informed that the Diocese of Duluth is in complete compliance with the requirements of the charter.

More recently, the bishops commissioned the John Jay College of Law to undertake a national study on the size and scope of the problem of sexual abuse of young people perpetrated by clergy who served the Catholic Church in the United States from 1950 through 2002. Their report will be released some time in the near future.

At the present time, I want to share with you what the John Jay College of Law study of the Diocese of Duluth reveals. For the years 1950 through 2002:

  • 350 priests - diocesan, religious, and those incardinated in other dioceses - have served in the Diocese of Duluth;
  • During this time frame, 42 individuals made allegations of sexual abuse against 14 diocesan priests and 4 religious;
  • One accused priest was exonerated and one allegation was withdrawn.

Of course, one allegation of sexual misconduct is one allegation too many. Since 1992 the Diocese of Duluth has had in place a Sexual Misconduct Policy that has guided the Diocese's response to allegations. I am committed to ensuring that our parishes, schools, and other Church institutions are safe places where our young people can gather safely. Let me assure you, moreover, that there are no priests in active ministry in the Diocese of Duluth who have been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor. Of the 14 diocesan and 4 religious priests mentioned above, some were deceased at the time of the allegation, some retired, and a few in parish positions which they left in response to the allegation.

Prior to 2002 most dioceses had in place a policy to handle credible allegations of current sexual misconduct/abuse. These policies included mandatory reporting to civil authorities, removal of the alleged perpetrator, and counseling for any victim. The challenge has been to respond to allegations of clergy sexual misconduct/abuse when, reportedly, such actions took place years ago. In some cases, the alleged perpetrator is dead, and there is no corroborating evidence. In these cases, the diocese makes every effort to determine whether such misconduct could have occurred and then responds accordingly.

The cost of clergy sexual misconduct to the Church in Northeast Minnesota these past 50 years has been significant. Victims' lives have been shattered, their faith compromised, the larger community scandalized, and sizeable monies invested in an effort to rebuild lives:

  • Settlements made to victims of clergy sexual misconduct totaled $738, 582.32. Of this amount, insurance paid $561,750.00. A majority of these settlements were for abuse prior to 1992.
  • Legal costs associated with these cases came to $233, 745.00, with $155,508.00 being paid by insurance carriers.
  • Pastoral care of victims, perpetrators and others affected by clergy sexual misconduct amounted to $405,605.92. Insurance covered approximately $7,000.00 of this amount.

While these figures amount to a staggering sum, they pale in comparison to innocent lives hurt by abuse and the mistrust and alienation of so many other Catholics. I sincerely apologize for the hurt and scandal caused by those who abused their sacred office for sexual gratification.

Please join your prayers to mine for healing and reconciliation. May the God of peace make us perfect in holiness (1 Thess. 5:23)

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Bishop of Duluth




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