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Sex Abuse Settlement in Minnesota Seen as Innovative


Aleteia - published on 10/14/14

Church may not recommend a priest for active ministry if there has been a credible claim of abuse

If the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis receives a a credible claim that a priest had sexually abused a minor, it may not recommend that priestfor an active ministry.

That’s one of the terms of a settlement reached Monday between the archdiocese and victims of abuse.

The settlement and the lawsuit that brought it about were seen as innovative and contained new measures to keep children safe.

"We forged a new way and that new way is an action plan — an action plan that not only protects kids in the future, but honors the pain and sorrow and grief of the survivors of the past," victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson said.

According to the settlement, Church leaders won’t conduct an internal investigation or "interfere in any way" with law enforcement investigations. Each member of the clergy will sign a declaration stating he has not abused a minor.

The measures differ from national policy set forth by U.S. bishops more than a decade ago by requiring the archdiocese to reveal the names of all abusers and documents related to their cases. They also spell out in greater detail the care the archdiocese is required to provide victims, among other provisions.

The case is believed to be the first such nationwide to use the public nuisance theory. That claim allowed victims’ attorneys to seek evidence of sexual abuse across the archdiocese, rather than focus on allegations against one individual.

It forced the unprecedented disclosure of tens of thousands of documents and the names of dozens of accused priests. The flood of information included the public release of court-ordered depositions of Archbishop John Nienstedt and other ecclesial leaders, revealing how top officials handled allegations of misconduct by priests.

Archbishop Nienstedt has apologized for any mistakes but has said he won’t step down. He also said he doesn’t believe he mishandled the situation.

AP contributed to this report.

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