For instance, I too was surprised to see his statement that I had 'ruined' the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Yet, what I really took issue with was his assertion that what I am engaged in is 'a war of words'. When I think of a war of words, I think of a protracted argument or dispute over a debatable topic- the sort of back and forth politicians might engage in. I have no interest in engaging in a prolonged dispute with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, or our Archbishop. My interests are and always have been to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in our parishes and schools, and to see that we act with justice towards those who have been harmed. Regrettably, I am not yet convinced that these interests are shared by those working in the Chancery. And so, until I am convinced otherwise, I will continue to point out those areas in which this Archdiocese is still deficient.
My post on the Stolzman file from earlier this week should be an indication of why I remain concerned, but I wouldn't expect the parishioners of Father Kennedy's parish to need such a reminder. Surely they would recall the Archbishop's statements from October and November of 2013 pledging 'zero tolerance' and ensuring the faithful 'there are no offending priests in active ministry in our archdiocese.' The same parishioners would just as likely recall that less than two months later it was 'discovered' that an offending priest was still in ministry, and at their parish! And, the parish of Saint Olaf did not just play host to one offending priest, Reverend Kenneth LaVan. In my affidavit for the Doe 1 case I referred to a situation where a 'pimp' was contacting the Chancery to try and get payment for services provided by one of his prostitutes to a priest of the Archdiocese. Prior to contacting the Chancery, the 'pimp' had tried to get payment from the priest himself- as he was leaving Saint Olaf after having celebrated daily Mass (Affidavit, pp. 52-53).
I was also surprised to see Father Kennedy refer to the current Vicar General, Father Charles Lachowitzer, as having the 'presence of mind' to engage plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson in 'a different kind of conversation'. I find it highly unlikely that Father Lachowitzer had any mind in the matter whatsoever- I believe it was almost entirely the brain-child of Briggs and Morgan attorney Charlie Rogers, as was even alluded to at the time. Father Lachowitzer's sympathies flow in a different direction, as he made very clear just a few months prior to his appointment as Vicar General when the Pioneer Press ran a story regarding Father Daniel Conlin, who was exercising ministry at Father Lachowitzer's parish (and at Saint Olaf!). I am posting Father Lachowitzer's letter to parishioners regarding the Conlin story below. I am sorry to disappoint Father Kennedy, but I am afraid the only 'different' type of conversation engaged in by the Archdiocese (or its direct agents) in October of 2014 was in making very real threats to file for bankruptcy (we now know they had engaged a bankruptcy attorney several months earlier).
Which brings me to the second point I found interesting about Father Kennedy's column- the idea of an olive branch being extended, and that a reconciliation of sorts would occur between the Archdiocese and myself. Father Kennedy does not specify on what basis or through what means such a reconciliation would occur, he merely believes that without it the Archdiocese will be stymied in its attempt to emerge from bankruptcy. In this he is probably right.
Despite Father Kennedy's comparison, there is no parallel between the Archdiocese's situation with Jeff Anderson and its situation with myself. First, Jeff Anderson is not Catholic, and I am. More importantly, Jeff Anderson's role is now and always has been to represent the best interests of his clients. It was not Jeff Anderson who agreed to the 'historic settlement', it was his client, known to us only as Doe 1. And, in speaking softly or in acting in a conciliatory manner towards the Archdiocese, it is an additional one-hundred-and-twenty-plus people Jeff Anderson is representing (including the boys hurt by Father Curtis Wehmeyer). It is entirely possible- if not probable- that this conciliatory posture is being required of him in order to ensure that the bankruptcy process does not drag on as it has in Milwaukee. I have no doubt that, if so, the requirements of the job are a bitter pill for him to swallow, but I am not convinced that they are the result of any thaw in relations. I think it is simply a matter of him believing the well-being of his clients requires it. As Father Kennedy writes, Jeff Anderson 'has his job to do'. Other attorneys have chosen another path.
I, on the other hand, am not bound by any such terms (or any confidentiality agreements). I have no clients in this matter, but neither do I consider myself to be acting for me alone. I am a Catholic of this Archdiocese, with as much- and perhaps more- of an investment in its people, its past, and its future as anyone else. The Archdiocese frequently tries to put limits on my knowledge and experience, saying, for instance, that the alleged abuse would have occurred “decades before [my] service to the archdiocese', but that always strikes me as an amazingly limited understanding of my relationship to the Church. It also ignores some important facts, such as that I was baptized at the same parish where James Porter would marry, that I attended a nursery school run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd while Father Robert Kapoun was their chaplain, and that I completed my sacraments of initiation at Saint Odilia, one of the parishes where Father Gerald Funcheon (among others) was assigned. Those priests never hurt me (no priest ever has), but they did hurt people to whom I will always be spiritually tied.
I stand and will continue to stand with those people, who are the real ones to whom an olive branch should be extended. As long as they need me to point out the lies and subterfuge in the Archdiocese's actions and inactions, I will do so, just as I will continue to alert parents and other concerned parishioners when and where there are dangers. For instance, Catholic Schools Week is probably a good time to point out that two of the five priests I identified in my affidavit as being my top level concerns (and whose names have not been made public) are presently assigned to parishes with schools (Affidavit, p. 66).
In positing a reconciliation- in suggesting a need to 'make peace with our enemies'- Father Kennedy seems to be missing the point of all my efforts. I left my position in the Archdiocese because I could no longer tolerate the activities of my coworkers and superiors. More than a year and a half later, my objections to conspiring with them are stronger than ever. Like Father Kennedy, I too want to cultivate peace in our community. But, unlike him, I believe that Pope Paul VI provided the model for how this can be done: 'If you want peace, work for justice'.