Two priests take leaves of absence while incidents reviewed

| December 29, 2013

Two priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have agreed to take leaves of absence from active ministry pending the conclusion of a review of incidents involving inappropriate conduct with minors.

Both of the men’s files were reviewed as part of a comprehensive review being conducted by an outside professional firm, which is currently examining the files of all clergy in active ministry.

The review of Father Mark Wehmann’s file has identified several incidents of “boundary violations,” according to a Dec. 29 statement from the archdiocese.

“Law enforcement has been informed about most of these in the past and has determined that no criminal charges were appropriate,” the statement said. “The archdiocese recently has informed law enforcement about the remaining incidents.”

A review of Father Joseph Gallatin’s file has identified a single incident “many years ago involving a boundary violation,” according to a separate statement.

“The outside professional review team has concluded that the incident did not involve a crime,” it said. “However, to ensure all appropriate steps have been taken, the archdiocese also recently informed law enforcement about the incident.”

Both priests announced their leaves of absence at weekend Masses. The two situations are not related; both actions resulted from the file review.

Father Wehmann has been serving as pastor at St. Boniface in Minneapolis since July 2013 and until recently as a part-time chaplain at Fairview University Hospital in Minneapolis. While on his leave of absence, he will remain pastor but will not perform any public ministry until a final review is complete.

Father Gallatin has been serving as pastor at St. Peter in Mendota since July 2008. While on his leave of absence, he also will remain pastor but will not perform any public ministry until a final review is complete.

The archdiocese announced in November that it was hiring Kinsale Management Consulting to review clergy files to help ensure a comprehensive approach to address clergy sexual misconduct and contribute to the archdiocese’s goal of prudent and ongoing disclosure. The firm was founded by Kathleen McChesney, a former high-level official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection.

The file review process began with clergy in active ministry. It will be followed by a review of files of clergy who are no longer in ministry. The archdiocese has said previously that disclosures will be made on an ongoing basis as the review of files continues and as further claims are made known.

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