A Letter to the Parish

Dear Parish and Friends,

As a parish that strives to live out the vision of Vatican II, we believe that every member is responsible for the well-being of our church as well as our community. The Basilica Vision states this wonderfully as we attempt to be a Home of Spiritual Nourishment, a Beacon of Hope and an Advocate for Change.  We, as Parish Council members, attempt to be your lay voice in carrying out this Vision.

Allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct within our church, and concerns regarding the handling of such allegations by the Archdiocesan hierarchy, continue to be headline news. While we all react differently to this information, each of us as parishioners at The Basilica and members of the Roman Catholic Church must share a sense of compassion for those directly and indirectly impacted by sexual abuse and disappointment that these issues continue to exist within our church.

The Parish Council regularly discusses these issues and supports Fr. Bauer in his regular communications to you and to Archdiocese officials. We discuss what has happened and is happening, both here at The Basilica and at the Archdiocese, and prayerfully ask what more we can or should do as lay leadership to respond to past abuse, minister to those impacted by it, and protect against future abuse within our community and church. Many of you have actively assisted us in this endeavor, through private conversations with Fr. Bauer, staff or members of the Parish Council, and through participation in public listening sessions. Although some parish members have said they’ve heard enough or don’t want to hear anything more from us on this issue, we feel silence does not best serve our Mission at the Basilica.  By continuing to treat the safety of community members as a critical issue, and providing transparency regarding our own actions, we will establish and reinforce a church environment that does not allow such conduct to go undetected and unaddressed.

In communicating our actions to date and our plans going forward, we look to The Basilica’s Vision for our guidance.

The Basilica of Saint Mary aspires to be a:

  • Home of Spiritual Nourishment - We aspire to be a place where all may be touched by beauty, be nourished in their faith, and be inspired by truth. Our parish should be a place of healing and strength realized through both community and individual prayer. We support Fr. Bauer in being open, transparent and at times blunt about what we can do and what the Archdiocesan leadership should be doing.
  • Beacon of Hope - We commit to welcome everyone with respect and dignity and to provide help and care, especially to those most in need. We are proud that the Basilica continues to open its doors to minister to those directly or indirectly impacted by sexual abuse through public listening sessions for our parishioners and private forums for individuals and officials dealing with or protecting others from sexual misconduct. 
  • Advocate for Change - We pledge to work toward justice, peace, and equality for all and to promote the protection of all of creation. We must make certain that our parish remains a safe and welcoming environment for all those who come through our doors. We strive to be an example and disciple of Christ in protecting individuals from misconduct and being forthright, rigorous and outspoken that such standards are adhered to by clergy, staff and volunteers here and throughout the Archdiocese.

 In furtherance of our Vision, concrete steps we have taken as a parish to address arising from sexual abuse and our Archdiocesan response to abuse include the following:

  • Fr. Bauer has regularly extended invitation to individuals and families to share with him their anger and frustrations regarding abuse and our Archdiocesan response to it, through newsletter and bulletin articles, pulpit announcements and extending personal invitation.
  • We held public listening sessions in November 2013 to provide opportunity for prayer, dialogue and healing, and to provide a forum to discuss openly the impact of abuse on our church.
  • We have shared information and feelings heard at the public listening sessions in an open letter from Fr. Bauer to Archbishop Nienstedt to encourage open communication and connection between church members and Archdiocesan leadership.
  •  We have reviewed and updated volunteer and staff policies designed to protect the safety of our community members. This includes policies and practices for conducting background checks, training volunteers and staff in best practices working with children and reporting suspected abuse to law enforcement, and building awareness among children and parents in our parish programs.
  • The Parish Council keeps this topic on its agenda as new information and events unfold, regarding abuse allegations as well as Archdiocesan responses. We regularly ask what more we can and should be doing to support and guide our parish community and what our role should be in the larger church.

In addition to these actions, many of which are continuing, we have begun planning for a liturgical response dedicated to issues of sexual abuse.  We will be inviting parish and community members to join us in prayer and support for those who have been victims of sexual abuse and their families and for those struggling with the impact such allegations have had on individuals and our church. Our goals are to provide an opportunity for healing and coming together with anyone impacted or concerned with these issues within the church, to remind ourselves of the healing power of Jesus Christ, and to offer prayerful example to all who are hurt and angry.  We will also continue to provide information and feedback to the Archdiocese, to ensure the voices of our parish community are transmitted to Archbishop Nienstedt.

As Parish Council members, we serve you – our parish community.  This is your parish and we welcome and need your input to continue to constructively address and respond to abuse issues our church is facing.  We encourage your involvement and input, through emails, conversations, meetings and other actions. Provide your feedback and let us know what would be helpful and meaningful to you. 

You can contact any member of the Parish Council (including Fr. Bauer) by email.  You may also provide input to the Archdiocese at 226 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102 or online.

If you are aware of abuse or suspect sexual abuse, you should report such information to local law enforcement.

We ask that you continue to pray for all victims of sexual abuse.  We ask further that we all pray for each other as members of The Basilica and the greater Roman Catholic Church in fulfilling our role to make our church and community a better place for all.

Sincerely

Chip Brink, Chair, Liturgy and Sacred Arts

Jill Ahern, Vice-Chair, At Large

Thomas Paul, Secretary, Liturgy and Sacred Arts

Kathy Noecker, At Large

Deborah Pekarek, At Large

Kathleen Andrus, Christian Life

Anne Jaeger, Christian Life

Rebecca Vandenberg, Learning

Paul Herb, Learning

Steve May, Development

Steve Kattke, Finance

Anne Locker Bernat, Trustee

Delia Bujold, Trustee

Terri Ashmore, Managing Director

Fr. John Bauer, Pastor

 

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Comments

Thank you for your letter. I an encouraged that the Basilica is being proactive and transparent dealing with this very difficult issue.
Keep up the good work.

Thank you for letter to the parish--as I stated to several friends and parish members at a social gathering the other evening that after almost 70 years as a Catholic. I am embarrassed to be a Catholic' that's a sad commentary for today's Catholic--
i consider myself to be very informed & updated with our church problems--i lived in Los Angeles during Cardinal Mahoney's tenure--and was involved with organizations that finally had him expelled--I am also involved with our local St. Paul parties-
I do take exception to your statement that state ALLEGATION of sexual conduct rather than FACTUAL. Do you not read the depositions ?? Adamson stated that he sexually abused 10 boys many, many times. In my world that's a FACT - need I go on?? One of the solutions to fixing a problem is admitting we have a problem. Nienstedt and several of our other bishops that have been deposed are a disgrace to my church and should be prosecuted. One stated that he thought child abuse was a sin, not a crime! He's the bishop in St Louis?? The others cannot remember their names. It is an absolute disgrace that I, as a practicing Catholic, have to read every day in our newspaper that my church cannot protect our innocent children. We, as a group will work every day to insure that Nienstedt and his entire staff be removed from office and be prosecuted. In the meantime no monies will be given in the Sunday collections. We all know where that $$$ goes. We will only give to the Landmark and other groups directly. We know it is working. Check your receipts. I pray for all the dedicated priests that have been tarnished by these scandals. gjpsqualityplus@comcast.net

Thank you all for your dedicated and thoughtful efforts to communicate about this topic.

To All-- A follow up to my June 14 comments -- Embarrassed to be a Catholic --Many feel the same. I have been reading over the last year or so the many articles written in our local newspapers concerning my Catholic Church, but today we made the national news with a piece in the USA TODAY'S edition page 5a--congratulations to all.
Question -
1-Please define ALLEGATION vs FACTS. I am amused by my church's position that a priest who admitted abusing our children for 35 years, Kern, my church uses the word ALLEGATION. Can we at least we honest ??
2-How incompetent are our bishops when I continue hear the words MISCONCEPTION, ALLEGATIONS, MISUNDERSTOOD, DO NOT REMEMBER, NO NOTES, sounds like they all had a high school education. These are the leaders of my church. I would suspect I will be hearing these same words from the pulpit in the near future??
3-Bishop Carlson is a complete disgrace, as he stated during his deposition" he did not know abusing a child was a crime, he thought it was a sin" and he is currently the Bishop in Saint Louis?? God bless those people. I read his explanation. I did not believe --lawyer talk ??
4-Kern abused children for 35 years before he was removed from the ministry in 2012. He should be in jail; along with Nienstedt & staff.
5-Why has the archdiocese not provided all of the roughly 100 perpetrator priest files ??? Is my church waiting for these priest to abuse more of our innocent children?? If the church is so holy why do we not voluntary release these files??
6- now we are bringing McDonough back for more questioning?? Now what??
God bless Anderson & Finnegan
7-Big question, Why has our church become such big hypocrites??

George J Peyton gjpsqualityplus@comcast.net

To all, part three. I know that there are many under-informed folks in our church community. I will try to keep all informed.

I found it interesting that the Vatican defrocks ambassador for abusing our innocent children. Maybe there is hope. For those of you who still use the word ALLEGATION, not FACT be aware--this is a fact.

FACTS, Archbishop Wesolowski has been defrocked for child sexual abuse & will face a criminal trial. He apparently he did not get the word that abusing children was crime not a sin ??

I find it interesting that Wesolawski was ordained by Cardinal Wojtyla, Pope John Paul ll., Who is now a SAINT ?? Wow
I will be watching next week to see how the meeting in ROME with Pope Francis & abuse survivors goes . In the past a meeting with Francis had been turned down. I would like to hear that explanation?? Nothing however surprises me concerning the VATICAN / ROME. A long record of corruption. As a young man in life I learned without a foundation you cannot build a house /church. I agree with bishop MASALLES of SANTO DOMINGO '' the silence of the church has hurt the people of GOD ''
I believe that at each Sunday mass an update concerning child abuse should be presented--???
Being under-informed in today's catholic church is not a option--

George J Peyton gjpsqualityplus@comcast.net

To all—Part Four - Congratulations ,we did it again. I woke up this am. to read in the Tribune front page headline--ARCHBISHOP FACES NEW SEX CLAIMS ?? Embarrassed to be a Catholic again. I know you people reading this are saying '' just another allegation against are poor bishop. When are you going to wake up ?? This guy & staff has to go--it's not if but when ,
When are you going to stop taking collection money to pay for attorneys, lobbyists, California consulting firms, etc. You may want to try a public relations firm? How are the receipts?
HASELBERGER will bury Nienstedt , & his incompetent staff. God bless her.
Nienstedt has been dirty since Detroit. We already know he has a bad memory.
Thank God we have pastors like father TEGEDER who stands up against the archbishop & staff. There are many of us who support his fight. Iit's unfortunate our local priests have not made their position public. interesting ? Maybe they feel that abusing our innocent children is a sin not a crime?? These are facts, not allegations.
What will be the next revelations to make the front page? Stay tuned I have had some
experience in these matters. See my time in LA .with Cardinal Mahoney. I would recommend to the archdiocese that they start selling their assets, buildings, land, investments , 401k's , retirement plans etc. None will be protected. Do not even think about bankruptcy. It will not work--good luck ??

George J Peyton gjpsqualityplus@comcast.net

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