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Published January 01, 2014, 09:54 AM

Duluth Diocese releases list of accused priests

DULUTH -- Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba told members of the media Tuesday that the history of sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church is a “sad truth that must be acknowledged,” and that the church wants to help victims heal and encourage others to come forward with their stories.

By: Tom Olson, Forum News Service

DULUTH -- Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba told members of the media Tuesday that the history of sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church is a “sad truth that must be acknowledged,” and that the church wants to help victims heal and encourage others to come forward with their stories.

That’s why the Diocese of Duluth on Tuesday released a list of 17 priests it has determined to be “credibly accused” of wrongdoing, Sirba said.

“We’re committed to doing what we can to support children,” the bishop said at a news conference at the diocese’s headquarters. “We want to support the healing among victims, and this is an important step.”

Sirba said the release was due, at least in part, to pressure from victims and advocates who have long sought full disclosure from the church in sex abuse cases.

Of the 17 priests, only three are still alive, according to the diocese. Sirba said the list is complete to the best of his knowledge, and promised that the diocese would, in the future, reveal any additional priests who are credibly accused.

Also included on the list were five priests who have lived or worked in the region and have been identified previously.

All 22 priests named Tuesday have been removed from the church, are still under investigation or were deceased before the accusations surfaced, according to the diocese.

The list covers priests accused since 1950 in the diocese’s area, which covers Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties.

Sirba noted that the list covers a broad period of time in the diocese’s history — one of the priests on the list was born in 1869 and has been dead for nearly 70 years.

“A number of clergy members in the Diocese of Duluth have violated the sacred trust placed in them by children, youth and their families,” Sirba said. “These clergy have caused terrible harm to victims, the victims’ families, to our community, to our church and to many, many good priests who faithfully carry out their duties to God’s people with love and generosity each and every day.”

Some of the priests were already publicly known through previous accusations and lawsuits, but many were revealed for the first time Tuesday.

Verne Wagner, the northern Minnesota director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the release should open the door for other victims to come forward.

“For the church to move forward, it’s important that all this information come out so we can learn from it and never repeat it, and so we can better protect kids right now,” Wagner said. “Still, we hope today’s disclosure will prod others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover-ups in Minnesota to step forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.”

Sirba also encouraged other victims to come forward by contacting both civil authorities and the diocese. He said he regularly speaks with victims about ways the diocese can help them heal.

Duluth follows the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona in releasing lists of accused priests. Those, however, were released after a court order; the Duluth release was done voluntarily by the diocese.

It was possible, though, that the Duluth diocese would have been ordered to turn over its list as well. Two civil suits filed in St. Louis County are seeking complete files for each accused priest.

Attorney Mike Finnegan, who is handling both cases, said the diocese took a step forward by releasing the names, but said he would continue to seek more complete files through the lawsuits.

“The information provided by the diocese today shows that more than 50 parishes in the Diocese had at least one of the credibly accused priests on the list serve with them at one time or another,” Finnegan said. “That means that a lot of parishioners and community members were exposed to these priests, making it vital that the Diocese provide the public with all of the information it has on these men.”

Asked about the litigation, Sirba did not say whether the diocese would consider releasing complete files, but said he hopes releasing the names and biographical information will help the healing process for victims.

The Diocese of Duluth’s list of credibly accused priests:

Kirby Blanchard (deceased), removed from ministry in 1995

Parishes: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Duluth; Our Lady of Fatima Church, Garrison; St. Joseph’s Church, Deerwood; St. Augustine’s Church, Cohasset; St. Mary’s Church, Deer River; St. Christopher Church, Nisswa; St. Alice Church, Pequot Lakes; Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Pine River; St. Anthony’s Church, Duluth; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Brainerd

Louis Brouillard, removed from ministry in 1985

Parishes: St. Joseph, Beroun; St. Mary, Keewatin; St. Anne, Kelly Lake

Victor Chateauvert (deceased), removed from ministry in 1992, was returned to order

Parishes: Holy Family, Hillman

Leonard Colston (deceased), removed from ministry in 1986 (resigned)

Parishes: St. Michael’s Church, Duluth; St. Francis Church, Brainerd; St. Louis, Floodwood

Raymond Cossette, retired in 1995

Parishes: Blessed Sacrament Church, Hibbing; Duluth Cathedral High School; Carmel Heights, Duluth; Brainerd State Hospital; St. Peter’s Church, Duluth; St. John’s Church, Biwabik; Diocesan superintendent of schools; Holy Family Church, Hillman

Frederick Fox (deceased), retired in 1987, removed from ministry in 1988

Parishes: St. James Church, Duluth; Catholic University of America; St. John the Evangelist Church, Duluth; St. James Children’s Home, Duluth; Family Services-Duluth Drug Abuse Program

John Golobich (deceased), retired in 1993; removed from ministry

Parishes: Blessed Sacrament Church, Hibbing; St. Michael’s Church, Kerrick; St. Joseph’s Church, Lakewood; St. Joseph’s Church, Gnesen; St. Martin’s Church, Tower; Finland Air Station; St. Mary’s Church, Silver Bay; St. Anthony’s Church, Duluth; St. James Church, Duluth; St. Martin’s Church, Tower; St. Elizabeth Church, Duluth

Ralph Goniea (deceased), removed from ministry

Parishes: St. Jean’s, Duluth

Robert Klein (deceased), removed from ministry in 1987

Parishes: St. Anthony’s Church, Duluth; Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Duluth; St. Joseph’s Church, Gnesen; St. Peter’s Church, Duluth; Sacred Heart Cathedral, Duluth;

Mark Makowski, removed from ministry in 1995

Parishes: St. Anthony’s Church, Ely; St. Francis Church, Brainerd; St. Benedict’s Church, Duluth; St. Benedict’s Church, Duluth; Queen of Peace Church, Hoyt Lakes; St. John’s Church, Grand Marais; Holy Rosary Church, Grand Portage

Thomas Gregory Manning (deceased), removed from ministry in 1957

Parishes: St. Joseph’s Church, Chisholm; St. John the Evangelist Church, Duluth; St. Louis Church, Floodwood, and missions of Goodland and Warba; St. John the Baptist Church, Biwabik

John Nicholson (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: St. James Church, Duluth; Diocesan director of scouting; St. Joseph’s Church, Grand Rapids; St. John’s Church, Hill City and Swatara; St. Mary's Church, Deer River, and mission of St. Augustine, Cohasset; St. Rose Church, Proctor; St. Joseph's Church, Deerwood

Dennis Puhl (deceased), removed from ministry in 1986 (signed a statement terminating priestly ministry and affiliation with Diocese of Duluth)

Parishes: Holy Spirit Church, Virginia; St. Casimir’s Church, Cloquet and mission at Cromwell; Mission at Saginaw

Thomas Stack (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Virginia; St. Joseph’s Church, Gnesen; St. Joseph’s Church, Lakewood; new parish, Hoyt Lakes; Good Shepherd Church, Duluth; St. Cecilia’s Church, Nashwauk; St. Anthony’s Church, Ely; St. Joseph’s Church, Duluth; Queen of Peace Church, Hoyt Lakes; Benedictine Health Center

Joseph Thibaudeau (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: St. Jean’s, Duluth

Stephen Toporowitz (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: Sacred Heart Cathedral, Duluth; St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church, Duluth; Willow River and Split Rock; Split Rock attached to Sturgeon Lake; St. Joseph’s Church, Deerwood and mission of Our Lady of Fatima, Garrison; St. John’s Church, Virginia; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Brainerd

Angelo Zankl, OSB (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: St. Clement’s, Duluth; St. Scholastica Priory

Additional accused priests with ties to the area:

Cornelius Kelleher, retired and removed from ministry in 2012

Parishes: St. James Church, Duluth; St. Joseph’s Church, Crosby; Holy Family Church, Eveleth; St. Mary’s Church, Cook, and mission of St. Bridget in Greaney; mission Gnesen; mission Lakewood; St. Benedict’s Church, Duluth; St. Joseph’s Church, Chisholm; St. Andrew’s Church, Brainerd; St. Patrick’s Church, Hinckley; St. Joseph’s Church, Beroun

J. Vincent Fitzgerald (deceased), died before allegation

Parishes: St. Michael’s, Northome; Our Lady of the Snows, Bigfork; St. Theresa, Effie; Holy Cross, Orr; Immaculate Conception, Nett Lake; St. Catherine, Squaw Lake

Othmar Hohmann (deceased), removed from ministry in 1976

Parishes: St. Joseph’s Church, Grand Rapids; Order of St. Benedict

Richard Jeub, removed from ministry in 2002

Parishes: St. Joseph, Hopkins; Our Lady of Grace, Edina; St. Mark, St. Paul; Christ the King, Minneapolis; Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park; Fairview Southdale Hospital, Edina; St. Kevin, Minneapolis; Sacred Heart, Robbinsdale; Sacred Heart/St. Lawrence, Faribault; St. Rose of Lima, Roseville

Brennen Maiers, removed from ministry in 2002

Parishes: St. Scholastica Priory; St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth; Federal Prison Camp; Order of St. Benedict

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