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Archdiocese hedges on release of priest list

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The leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says there might be a delay in the widely anticipated release of a secret list of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse over the years, KSTP reports.

Archbishop John Nienstedt earlier this week announced that he would soon disclose a list of priests suspected of abuse. The list is expected to be limited to priests currently residing in the archdiocese and who have been determined by church officials to be guilty of abuse, MPR News reported.

But now Nienstedt says a Ramsey County Court order could hold up the release of the list, which has been kept under wraps for decades, KSTP reports.

It's unknown how many priests might be on the list. KSTP notes that the Massachusetts-based Bishop Accountability website reports that there are three credible allegations of clergy sexual misconduct in Crookston, 37 in St. Cloud, seven in Duluth, six in New Ulm, 34 in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area and four in Winona.

KSTP also reported that two top archdiocese officials, Nienstedt and former Vicar General, Father Peter Laird, are part of a criminal investigation by St. Paul Police that focuses in part on allegations of child pornography on a computer used by former priest John Shelley. But St. Paul police said that KSTP report was "inaccurate" and the two church leaders are not the "focus of an investigation."

In other news, in a response to an MPR News investigation, tribal authorities on the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota are opening a criminal investigation into alleged sexual abuse of several boys and a teenager by the Rev. Clarence Vavra.

MPR reported that the archdiocese kept Vavra in ministry and moved him to different churches after he admitted to abuse on the reservation in the 1970s.

The archdiocese has been reeling from a string of recent headlines related to allegations of abuse by priests. The church also has been under heavy fire for its handling of the cases. At least 19 lawsuits have been filed related to alleged priest abuse in recent months, the Star Tribune reported.

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