St. Paul archdiocese hires outside firm to review clergy misconduct - Catholic Courier

St. Paul archdiocese hires outside firm to review clergy misconduct

By Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Nov. 14 that it has hired the Los Angeles-based firm of Kinsale Management Consulting to review clergy files as part of an archdiocesan plan to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of clergy sexual misconduct.

Kinsale Management, which provides consulting services for executives in businesses, is headed by its founding CEO, Kathleen McChesney, a former head of what is now the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

McChesney was the highest ranking female official in the FBI when she was named in late 2002 to head the newly created child protection office. She held the post for three years.

"We are confident in the credentials and relevant expertise of Kinsale Management Consulting to conduct a thorough review of our clergy files," said Dominican Father Reginald Whitt, archdiocesan vicar for ministerial standards.

"Our number one goal was to find someone with extensive experience and expertise nationally in this area, and Kinsale certainly has those qualities," the priest said in a statement.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt named Father Whitt to the post of vicar in early October. He assumed full responsibility for all issues related to clergy sexual misconduct. At the time of his appointment, the priest was a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

According to an archdiocesan press release, Kinsale’s file review process is expected to begin in early December and will start with a review of all clergy in active ministry. Once an initial assessment is done, the Kinsale group will be able to give an estimate of how much time will be need to complete the work.

The release said the archdiocese chose Kinsale after reviewing the credentials of several nationally recognized firms with similar expertise.

"Dr. McChesney and her team bring an extraordinary depth of experience, background in law enforcement and the investigation of crimes against children, and dedication to their work in both religious and secular organizations," Archbishop Nienstedt said in a statement.

"Their expertise and leadership in addressing the problem of abuse of minors will ensure that Kinsale’s review of our clergy files will be objective and thorough," he added. "With the benefit of this level of review, we will proceed confidently with ongoing disclosure."

In October, the archbishop also named Father Charles Lachowitzer as the archdiocese’s new vicar general and moderator. Among his responsibilities is working closely the newly formed Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force.

The task force is conducting a full review of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ policies and practices and "any and all issues" related to clergy sexual misconduct.

The two priests’ appointments and creation of the task force came amid sexual misconduct allegations in the media concerning certain priests in the archdiocese and how their cases were handled by archdiocesan officials.

"These allegations must be addressed urgently, transparently and with truly independent review," Archbishop Nienstedt said at the time. "Addressing these serious allegations is the top priority for the archdiocese."

The archbishop said the archdiocesan response would include hiring an outside firm to review clergy files. The archdiocese also will disclose the names, locations and status of all living priests of the archdiocese "who have substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor, regardless of where they are currently residing," according to the Nov. 14 press release.

In his Nov. 7 column in The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Nienstedt outlined four goals: creating safe environments for children; caring for those who have been harmed by a member of the Catholic Church; facilitating a healing process "for our local church in order to restore trust with the Catholic faithful; "and lastly, restoring trust with clergy who are serving nobly and with honor."

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