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Archbishop calls for audit of priest files

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The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will hire an outside firm to review clergy files.

Archbishop Rev. John Nienstedt made the announcement in a column that was published Thursday in the Catholic Spirit. He ordered the review in response to a new wave of allegations of priest sexual misconduct and accusations that leaders in the archdiocese tried to keep those allegations private.

In the column Nienstedt wrote, " This is unacceptable. As the head of this local Church, I know that the ultimate responsibility here is mine. My heart is heavy with the agony that these errors have caused."

Nienstedt apologized to the victims, and their families, and to those who have had their faith shaken by the allegations. He has been under fire from local Catholics for his handling of alleged abuse claims. Sunday, Rev. Bill Deziel, the pastor of the Church of St. Peter in North St. Paul, wrote to his congregation in the church bulletin that it might be time for a complete remake of leadership in the archdiocese, and a local attorney also started a petition drive demanding that Nienstedt step down.

Nienstedt also said Wednesday, he was sorry that he has lost the confidence of parishoners and priests amid the controversy.

The Star Tribune reports that Nienstedt said the church has not made enough progress in snuffing out sexual abuse by priests. The report says that Nienstedt vowed to do better.

KSTP reports that David Clohessy, the national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Nienstedt's words are just more of the same and any external review would not be independent if ordered by the archbishop.

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