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St. John's Abbey releases list of 18 who 'likely offended' with minors

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Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. is disclosing the names of 18 current and former monks who "have likely offended against minors," as the Abbey's website described it.

The Associated Press reported that most of the names on the list had previously been made public for their likely sexual abuse of children. The statement from the abbey said the list includes the names of nine monks who live at the abbey under supervision, seven who are dead and two who have been dispensed from their religious vows and are no longer monks.

MPR News noted that the spokesperson for the abbey said the St. John's list was voluntarily released.

A statement from Brother Aelred Senna, a spokesman for the abbey, said the list represents the abbey's best efforts to identify monks who have abused minors, even though complaints against some could not be completely substantiated. Senna indicated they were included on the list to "...acknowledge pain suffered by victims." It went on to say, "This list underscores our commitment to being transparent in our policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse."

The St. Cloud Times noted that this list comes after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a list of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors. The archdiocese's list included three of the men who were also named in the St. John's Abbey list--Francis Hoefgen, Cosmas Dahlheimer (who is deceased) and Brennan Maiers. The three were named in the archdiocese's list for what they did while assigned to parishes there.

Jeffrey Anderson, a St. Paul attorney who's sued the abbey and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over allegations of clergy sexual abuse, said the action represents a step forward.

"This disclosure helps us, and the survivors, come together because we all want the same thing: for kids to be protected and the truth to be known," Anderson said in a statement.

The Catholic Education website explains that a monk is a man living in a religious community who has taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. A priest is ordained and can perform rites and rituals and celebrate Mass after receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders. A priest can also be a monk. Monks typically live in monasteries, which are referred to as abbeys in certain circumstances.

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