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Task force finds major flaws in handling abuse complaints in Minnesota archdiocese

Catholic World News - April 14, 2014

A special task force has reported “serious shortcomings” in the handling of sex-abuse complaints in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese.

The Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force, chaired by Father Reginald Whitt, said that the archdiocese had concentrated too much power in one or two individuals” in the handling of abuse complaints. One of those individuals, Father Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general of the archdiocese, refused to meet with the task force. Another, Father Peter Laird, was on leave, and the archdiocese told the task force that it did not know how to contact him.

Archbishop John Nienstedt created the task force last year, selecting Father Whitt to head the effort and to appoint the other members. The archbishop has promised to abide by the group’s recommendations.

The task force said that the archdiocese was using “confusing and inadequate” system for reporting complaints, and an outdates system for keeping records. The group found “no meaningful compliance auditing” and poor communications with the clergy and with the public. “Processes and decisions have appeared secretive and sequestered, even if that was not the intent,” the report said.

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