Thursday, 26 November 2015

Drunken Catholic Monks Abused Minnesota School Boys

The Rev. Finian McDonald. "More than 200 victims."
Records reveal Minnesota priests raped hundreds of kids for decades — and church buried the evidence

Records released under court order last Tuesday give a glimpse of the extent of the institutionalised child abuse and cover-up by Catholic priests over a 20 year period at a private boys preparatory school run by monks from the St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

The order was granted by the judge as a result of an action brought by one of the victims. This is the first time the monastery has released any information relevant to these claims despite being embroiled in lawsuits for some 20 years. The papers only relate to five priests. Papers relating to allegations against a further fourteen priests have yet to be released.

One of the accused is Rev. Finian McDonald who has confessed to drinking heavily and preying on more than 200 victims, even traveling to Thailand to molest male child prostitutes as young as 13. The other four are Rev. Tom Gillespie, former priest Francis Hoefgen, the late Rev. Bruce Wollmering and the late Rev. Richard Eckroth. Earlier this year, Hoefgen was acquitted on a specific charge of sexually harassing a teenage boy but the released records show a pattern of predatory behaviour from the 1980s onwards.

The released documents show that, far from dealing with the problem when it was brought to their attention, the abbey authorities sought to cover it up. Some of the abuse victims were further abused by those to whom they went for help. Priests were transferred to other parishes to hide their behaviour and to avoid embarrassment. Rather than alert the authorities and have him brought to trial, the abbey paid Rev. Francis Hoefgen $30,000 to help him "transition out of the priesthood" - in other words, he was paid off and told to take his abusive habits elsewhere before he spoiled it for everyone else.

Rev, Francus Hoefgen. $30,000 payoff.
Attempting to excuse their behaviour, in a written statement accompanying the released documents, Brother Aelred Senna of St John's Monastery wrote:

There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context, but the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.

So, boys will be boys and we're all human, eh, Brother Aelred? And it's really not fair to put this behaviour in a "lurid context". No doubt this was all part of a loving relationship and the best way to minister to the spiritual needs of these boys.

[I] personally ask for forgiveness for the damage [some priests] have done for having sexually abused children. We will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed.

Pope Francis
Last June, Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned following news that Minnesota prosecutors were to charge the archdiocese over the way it had handled child sex abuse allegations. The resignations came close on Pope Francis announcing he was setting up a new tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up child sex abuses by their clergy, but the Vatican refused to say whether the resignations were by choice or whether the two were sacked.

So far, the Vatican has been silent on the matter of the Minneapolis revellations.

[Update] St John's Abbey has just released the names of a further 30 priests who have been "credibly accused" of child abuse.

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