Document: Archdiocese Considered Silencing Priest

Updated: 07/16/2014 8:28 AM
Created: 07/15/2014 11:13 AM
By: Brandi Powell

A canon lawyer who became a whistleblower against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says church officials considered silencing a critic by declaring him to be disabled.

In a sworn statement released Tuesday, Jennifer Haselberger claimed that she was "ignored" and "dismissed" when she brought up sex abuse allegations to the church. The affidavit was filed after the archdiocese attempted to throw sexual abuse survivor, John Doe 1's civil lawsuit out of court.

The law firm, Jeff Anderson and Associates, is representing John Doe 1 in the case. Attorneys released Haselberger's sworn affidavit.

University of St. Thomas Canon Law Expert Dr. Charles Reid weighed in on the claims. He said Haselberger makes it clear that investigations carried out by the Archdiocese were "inadequate."

"If her affidavit lays out the foundations of Jeff Anderson's case, I think she presents compelling testimony that helps lay the groundwork for a claim of past, and perhaps even continuing, public nuisance," Reid explained.

Haselberger also alleged a former top deputy to Archbishop John Nienstedt proposed declaring the Rev. Michael Tegeder disabled to silence his opposition to the archbishop's efforts to promote a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Tegeder calls the idea laughable and the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard. Tegeder, who serves as pastor at St. Francis Cabrini Church in Minneapolis, has been calling for Nienstedt to step down for some time. He says the archdiocese needs to go without a bishop for a year or two so laypeople and credible clergy can put things right.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement that Haselberger's "recollections are not always shared by others within the archdiocese." The statement goes on to say that her experience "highlights the importance of ongoing constructive dialogue," and the importance of ensuring the safety of children.

At one point, she was even suspended. We reached out to Haselberger and asked her why she stayed on the job. She said in an email to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on 7/15/14: "I feel a tremendous sense of obligation to protect the faithful. I didn't want to go back, but I knew that nothing would change if I didn't. I had a moral obligation to at least try." Haselberg added, "I wanted to be a good employee, and do what the church asked of me."

The church said it's taking steps to become more transparent and help victims heal.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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