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Archdiocese releases secret list of priests 'credibly accused' of sexual abuse

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After months of delays and criticism followed by court action earlier this week, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Thursday publicly disclosed the names of 34 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors. MPR News reports that seven of the priests named today were not previously known to the public as accused abusers. Five of those seven are still living.

The Associated Press reports that Archbishop John Nienstedt says he hopes the move will restore trust. The archdiocese says it has substantiated claims against 30 priests on the list. The remaining four have claims against them that could not be substantiated, but the archdiocese released them after a court order.

The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese's newspaper, carried the full list. An editorial note attached to it said that the disclosure includes "...clergy members from other dioceses or religious orders who at one time worked in the archdiocese and were accused of engaging in sexual abuse of minors in our archdiocese, to the extent we have reliable and sufficient information to determine whether the claim was credible and could be substantiated." FOX 9 noted that the archdiocese statement indicated most of those on the list had been out of the ministry for the past decade or more.

Information includes the clerics' names, parishes where they served, and other details. It does not include details of the allegations. The priests named in the list have all been permanently removed from the ministry or have left the ministry. About one third of them are deceased. Details about abuse allegations were not provided by the archdiocese.

The Pioneer Press story included the statement from Archbishop John Nienstedt, included in a letter on the archdiocese website. "This is a tragedy that has caused insufferable harm to victims, their families, parishioners and the church," Nienstedt wrote. "I must say once again to all victims of this abuse: I am so sorry for the pain you have endured."

On Monday, a Ramsey County District judge also ordered the Diocese of Winona to release a similar list of 13 priests and the Winona Daily News reported the diocese there will release that list on Dec. 17. Both dioceses have until Jan. 6 to release the names of priests accused since the lists were created.

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