Independent task force to review archdiocese’s clergy sexual misconduct policies

| October 7, 2013

ARCHshieldSquareThe Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced the formation of a new Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force to conduct a full review of its policies and practices related to clergy sexual misconduct.

“Over the past two weeks, serious allegations have been made concerning certain priests in this archdiocese and the handling of cases by archdiocesan officials,” the archdiocese said in an Oct. 6 statement.

“These allegations must be addressed urgently, transparently and with truly independent review,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “Addressing these serious allegations is the top priority for the archdiocese.”

The archbishop has appointed a new vicar for ministerial standards, Dominican Father Reginald Whitt, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He will assume full responsibility for all issues related to clergy sexual misconduct, the archdiocese said. And, he will appoint an independent lay task force to review all issues related to clergy sexual misconduct and to make specific recommendations regarding actions to be taken and policies and procedures to be implemented.

The Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force will operate independently of both the vicar for ministerial standards and the archbishop. The task force will have full authority and all the resources needed to complete its work, the archdiocese said.

Its findings and recommendations will be released publicly when the final report is complete and the vicar for ministerial standards will implement the recommendations, which the archbishop pledged to accept.

Members for the task force are being considered by Father Whitt and formal appointments are expected to be final by Oct. 9. He will then announce the names of the members and the chairperson. The membership of the task force is not being reviewed by the archbishop, and he is not making any decisions about the membership.

The task force is expected to convene this week. The vicar will not attend its meetings unless invited by the chairperson.

“There can be no room for misconduct among our clergy and our standard must be zero tolerance for abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “We hold a sacred trust. Our very vocation requires the highest standard of conduct so that all may be drawn to the person of Jesus Christ through our witness.”

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