Review of clergy files leads to Archdiocese putting two priests on leave

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Two Twin Cities priests are on leave while allegations of inappropriate contact with minors are reviewed.

The Catholic Spirit reports the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis took the step based on a consultant's review of clergy files. That review flagged several incidents of "boundary violations" by the Rev. Mark Wehmann and a single incident by the Rev. Joseph Gallatin, the Spirit says.

The archdiocese issued separate statements about Wehmann, who has been pastor at St. Boniface in Minneapolis since July, and Gallatin, who has been at the Church of St. Peter in Mendota since 2008.

The archdiocese says law enforcement had previously been notified of the incidents involving Wehmann and determined no crimes had occurred. The statement says authorities were recently notified of the remaining incidents. In Gallatin's case, the archdiocese says the consultant determined there was no criminal act, but also notified law enforcement.

As the Star Tribune reports, both men remain priests but will be involved in no public ministry during their leaves.

Each priest announced his leave to parishoners from the pulpit Sunday. KSTP reports Gallatin said the allegation against him dates back more than fifteen years. The station quotes Gallatin as saying "God is in charge and if Jesus wants me as his instrument, he will bring me back."

The archdiocese has spent the last few months responding to various reports of sexual misconduct by priests. Two weeks ago, Archbishop John Nienstedt apologized for the church's failures in its handling of the cases. Since then, Nienstedt himself has taken a leave while police investigate a claim that he inappropriately touched a boy in 2009. Nienstedt says the allegation is false.

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