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Published December 04, 2013, 12:39 PM

Archdiocese braces parish leaders for disclosure

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sent an email to priests and parish leaders on Wednesday, bracing them for its upcoming disclosure of the names of more than two dozen clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

By: AMY FORLITI, Associated Press, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sent an email to priests and parish leaders on Wednesday, bracing them for its upcoming disclosure of the names of more than two dozen clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

In the email, obtained by The Associated Press, the archdiocese said 92 parishes have had at least one priest on the list assigned to them at some point. Those parishes were notified in a separate email that they would be affected, and letters were also mailed to them Tuesday, Wednesday's email said.

The email also offers reassurances to other parishes: "If the pastor or parochial administrator of your parish did not receive a general notification email last Saturday, that means that none of the men who will be disclosed this week were ever assigned at your parish in the past."

The archdiocese has said it plans on Thursday to disclose the names of at least 29 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The names are part of a list compiled in 2004 as part of a nationwide study to determine the scope of clergy sex abuse.

Across the country, roughly two dozen archdioceses and dioceses have already made such lists public.

The archdiocese has said most of the allegations that led to priests being on its list relate to reported incidents occurring from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. All were permanently removed from ministry or are deceased, and most have already been publicly named in the media.

Attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse sought for years to make the list public, arguing it's in the interest of public safety. But church leaders resisted until now, saying it could harm the reputations of wrongly accused priests. They argued the term "credibly accused," coined by the 2004 study, has a low threshold and meant that any report of abuse that was "not implausible" was included.

In the email to priests, Charles Lachowitzer, vicar general and moderator of the curia, wrote that the archdiocese plans to send parish leaders another email on Thursday, with links to the disclosure, a question-and-answer sheet related to the disclosure, and a pulpit announcement for use at all Masses this weekend.

"It continues to be a very challenging and stressful time for all of us in our local Church. However, I am confident that we are making the right decisions in the interest of honesty, transparency and justice," the email said. "We are especially focused on our goals to protect the young and vulnerable, care for the victims of abuse, and begin a healing process to restore trust with both the laity and our many clergy who are serving honorably. These goals are guiding our decisions and actions."

There are a total of 33 names on the archdiocese's list. Of the four whose names might not be released Thursday, archdiocese attorney Tom Wieser said earlier this week that one was a member of a religious order and there's no information showing he served in the archdiocese. The other three are priests for whom the archdiocese says the allegations can't be substantiated, and those files are being reviewed.

On Monday, a judge said the archdiocese had until Dec. 17 to disclose the accused clerics' names; birth year and age; year of ordination; whether they're alive or dead and the year of death; the parishes in which they served; their current status; and the city and state where they live.

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