Monday, June 20, 2016

With Sacred Heart lawsuit, questions over whether parishes are liable in SNAP trials

A Twin Cities attorney and Diocese of Crookston monsignor say they want the same thing: healing and justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

But where attorney Mike Finnegan and Monsignor Mike Foltz differ is who should be sued in the latest wave of lawsuits related to the recent May 25 deadline of the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
"If the priest is dead, for example, you could say, 'Well shucks, what's the reason to file the lawsuit if he can't hurt somebody else?' And the first response from virtually every victim I've ever spoke to is ... to deter coverups in the future," said David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, a nonprofit that helps survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
"What's been happening more recently is the diocese, when we haven't sued (the parish), they've gone into court and said, 'He's not our guy. He's the parish's guy. The parish is the one who pays him. The parish is the one where he lives. And so, we don't have anything to do with him. We're not responsible,' " Finnegan said. [I'd like to see the case he references.  If so, the diocesan claim is absolutely reprehensible.  Or is this a straw man argument?  Religious order priests is a different question, but a diocesan priest was said to not fall under the jurisdiction of a diocese?]
The Catholic Church isn't the only institution dealing with child sexual abuse cases across the country. The Minneapolis Children's Theatre is facing lawsuits alleging abuse dating back to the 1970s, and the Boy Scouts of America has allegations from decades ago against it, too.


  1. I do not understand all that legalize in the above article. That said, this whole case in Winona shows how the priest, the bishop and the others do not get the serious nature of the actions of the priest in question. When the story broke, it was mentioned that the previous vicar general knew the history of this priest and he was still promoted to the position of vicar general, made the rector of the cathedral and made a monsignor. Someone needs to give these people a course in how Catholics should act. This is exactly why people do not trust the church and pay no attention to the bishops.

    1. Well, this isn't a covered up crime, he admitted to it. Clearly he shouldn't be doing any counseling - especially to college students - but I'm not sure that means he's just not supposed to be a priest anymore either.

      But this article is actually about a case in the diocese of Crookston. And the points made are if Catholic parishes should have to close to pay off abuse settlements. I disagree but the point SNAP makes that diocese were trying to hide behind parishes is abominable.


Please contact if you have issues commenting.