A leading church official at the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has resigned, saying he hopes his departure will help rebuild trust especially among victims of clergy abuse.
Through its newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese announced that the Rev. Peter Laird resigned as vicar general and moderator of the curia, effective immediately. Laird said he hoped his decision to step aside "can help repair the trust of many, especially the victims of abuse.”
As vicar general, Laird has been at the right hand of Archbishop John Nienstedt. The Rev. Charles Lachowitzer, who is pastor at a church is Eagan, will succeed Laird as vicar general, the archdiocese announced.
As the Star Tribune reports, Laird's resignation came on the day St. Paul attorney Jeffrey Anderson presented evidence that Laird and other church officials knew a priest was in possession of child pornography.
Anderson tells Minnesota Public Radio Laird's sudden resignation is unprecedented but he also said it is only a gesture. "That means they are obviously aware something needed to be done, and somebody needed to fall, " Anderson told MPR.
According to an MPR investigation released last month, the archdiocese knew about the sexual compulsions of the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer for years before the priest pleaded guilty to abusing two 12 and 14-year-old brothers.
The archdiocese plans to put together a task force on the issue of priest misconduct. Archbishop Nienstedt said in the Catholic Spirit that more details will be released next week.