Statement from the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota Regarding the Expiration of the MN Child Victims Act
The last three years have brought fresh light to the painful reality of sexual abuse and those who have been hurt by it. We, the bishops of the state of Minnesota, cannot imagine the pain those individuals and their families carry with them and the courage it takes to tell someone, “I was abused” and relive what happened. We apologize for their pain and we thank them for coming forward.
While we cannot say or do anything to return the innocence of youth that was stolen, we will work to restore broken relationships with family, friends and loved ones and help heal the pain caused to so many. We promise that we will continue to work every day to make sure our churches, schools and communities are safe for all people – especially children. When an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a clergy member or someone else in the Church, we will not be silent. We will continue to report every allegation to law enforcement immediately and cooperate with them every step of the way. We also promise to continue stringent hiring standards, background checks for employees and volunteers who interact with children, and specialized training for employees and volunteers to make sure they are able to recognize the signs that might suggest that young people are at risk or in danger.
We apologize to all of those who have been hurt and to their families and friends who have been affected by that pain and loss. We are truly sorry.
Please join us as we continue to pray for all victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
The Catholic Bishops of the State of Minnesota
Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, Diocese of Crookston
Bishop Paul D. Sirba, Diocese of Duluth
Bishop John M. LeVoir, Diocese of New Ulm
Bishop Donald J. Kettler, Diocese of Saint Cloud
Bishop John M. Quinn, Diocese of Winona
Message to the faithful of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester
The Diocese of Winona-Rochester along with a number of parishes and schools in our diocese and others in Minnesota has recently been sued under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. As you may know, the Minnesota Child Victims Act lifted the civil statute of limitations for claims of sexual abuse for a three year time period. As a result, individuals may now bring claims which were previously prohibited by the statute of limitations. The deadline to file a claim is May 25, 2016.
All of the cases that the diocese is aware of, date back several decades. The claims that have been served do not involve anyone active in ministry or anyone in our schools within the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.
Efforts are underway to communicate this news with our affected communities.
These suits should not affect the day to day operations of our parishes and schools. Our attorneys are in the process of working with our insurers to resolve these matters. It is our commitment to ensure that the mission of our parishes and schools continues.
Our diocese and its parishes are committed to ensuring a safe environment for our young people. We have fully adopted the recommendations from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all of our staff and volunteers receive background checks and are trained through the VIRTUS program.
The support and healing of survivors of child sexual abuse remains a top priority for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. Anyone who has been abused recently or in the past is encouraged to come forward and report the abuse to civil authorities. Parish communities are encouraged to pray for the healing of anyone who has suffered sexual abuse.
Read a letter from Bishop John M. Quinn and view resources regarding these recent lawsuits below.
Letter from Bishop Quinn
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
I write to you today concerning the child sexual abuse lawsuits facing the Diocese of Winona and various parishes and Catholic schools. As you might be aware, in May of 2013, the Minnesota Legislature lifted the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, opening a window for past victims to file claims through May 25, 2016. As the deadline approaches we will learn more about these suits and who is affected.
It is important to share a few pieces of information about these claims. First, these lawsuits arise out of sexual misconduct that happened several decades ago. These are not new claims, and it is important to emphasize that none of the priests who have been accused of sexual abuse are currently in ministry, and many are deceased. It is also important to remember victims and work toward their healing and support. As a diocese, we must acknowledge past cases of abuse and encourage the dignified treatment of the many survivors who have come forward.
There is much unknown in this process of litigation, and we are currently communicating between the diocese, parishes and schools to be prepared to resolve claims in a just and equitable fashion. All of this preparation and planning is taking place to support victims and allow for the necessary healing in our diocese.
The care and support of survivors remains a priority for me and our diocesan family, and it is important to remind people of the May 25th deadline. I continue to encourage all survivors of child sexual abuse to report the abuse to civil authorities.
Please remember these intentions in your prayers and know that I will keep our communities informed as we learn more. May the risen Christ conquer death and bring light into the darkness.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. John M. Quinn
Bishop of the Diocese of Winona
November 12, 2010
Dear Friends in Christ,
The Diocese of Winona is committed to keeping our youth and vulnerable adults as safe as possible from sexually abusive situations. With the adoption by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (2002, 2005), this commitment to our youth is reviewed by auditors to measure compliance with the Charter.
I support the Diocese’s Safe Environment Program which includes background checks, safe environment sessions, and the reading and signing of our Code of Conduct for adults involved in pastoral ministry. I also support the curriculum choices that are presently being used for our children and young people.
I am grateful for the pastors, Catholic school principals and directors of faith formation who have worked together to implement both the adult and youth programs. I expect that these leaders will continue to gather the information needed for the Audit Reports and all other related forms and submit them in a timely manner so that we will be able to demonstrate our commitment to the protection of our children and young people.
Please join with me in ensuring this commitment to our youth.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John M. Quinn
Bishop of Winona