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2 Minnesota priests step down, citing 'prior misconduct'

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Already reeling from a number alleged sex scandals involving its priests, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis late Sunday night announced on its website that two Minnesota priests were taking leaves of absence for "prior misconduct."

The two are the Rev. David Barrett, assistant pastor at the Church of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, and the Rev. Paul Moudry, pastor of St. Margaret Mary in Golden Valley.

The archdiocese was not specific about the nature of the misconduct. The website statements about Barrett and Moudry are very similar.

The statement about Barrett reads, in part:

"The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced today that after careful discernment and much prayer in conjunction with the Archdiocese, Father David Barrett has chosen to take a voluntary leave of absence. His decision is as a result of prior misconduct which occurred many years ago and did not involve members of any parish in which Fr. Barrett has served. This misconduct did not involve a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

The statement about Moudry says, in part:

"The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced today that after much prayer and reflection and in conjunction with the Archdiocese, Father Paul Moudry has chosen to take a voluntary leave of absence. His decision is as a result of prior misconduct which occurred many years ago and did not involve members of any parish in which Fr. Moudry has served. This misconduct did not involve a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

The two priests will not conduct any public ministry while on leave, and the Archdiocese's Ministerial Standards Board will review their actions and make recommendations, the statements say.

An archdiocese spokesman declined further comment, MPR News reported.

The statements were posted about an hour after an evening prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Paul, where Archbishop John Nienstedt called for prayers for victims of the failures of the church and its “shepherds,” the Star Tribune reported. "I hope that in the end our church and our justice system will bring the truth to light about all of this,” David Dries of Woodbury told the Star Tribune.

The archdiocese has weathered a month of media coverage focused on an ever-growing list of priests accused of misconduct and questions about whether the church responded appropriately.

Several top church officials have resigned in the last month, including Nienstedt's top vicar general, the Rev. Peter Laird.

Former Archbishop Harry Flynn and his former top deputy the Rev. Kevin McDonough both abruptly left the University of St. Thomas board.

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