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Michael Jensen

A Letter to Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens and Fr. Lachowitzer

Dear Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens and Fr. Lachowitzer:

Archbishop Hebda, I want to welcome you to our Archdiocese as Apostolic Administrator. Please know that you are in my prayers and the prayers of our parish, as you begin this important ministry. I pray it will be a time of healing and new hope for our Archdiocese.

I write this letter with a very troubled heart. During the past two years, at listening sessions and at various meetings, I have heard my parishioners describe feelings of outrage, betrayal, breach of trust, and deep sadness over the manner in which certain events have been handled in our Archdiocese. Very sadly, some people have even chosen to leave the church. The loss of these good people is a wound from which our church will not soon recover.

In recent accounts in various media and most recently in a report last Friday by Madeleine Baron of Minnesota Public Radio, questions have been raised in regard to the manner in which the Archdiocese has shared or not shared important information regarding Archbishop Nienstedt. These reports are concerning on several levels. Most specifically, however, they suggest that the Archdiocese has not been transparent, honest and forthcoming in the information it is has shared with the faithful of the Archdiocese in regard to Archbishop Nienstedt. 

Given the events of the past two years, and most recently the resignations of Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piché, I think it is absolutely imperative that, unless prohibited by law or promise of confidentiality to lay witnesses, the Archdiocese release all information regarding the investigation of Archbishop Nienstedt. I realize objections will be raised in regard to the release of this material. Given the fact that Archdiocesan funds were used, however, I firmly believe that the right of the faithful to this information outweighs any objections. More importantly, I believe that in order for our Archdiocese to rebuild the trust needed for the healing process to begin, full disclosure is essential so that we can move forward with the clear and certain knowledge that nothing has been or is being hidden or concealed.

I request that the release of information specifically needs to include:

  • the report(s) from Greene Espel;
  • the report(s) from Peter Wold;
  • the report(s) to Archbishop Vigano;
  • a full and accurate accounting of costs associated with these reports;
  • a general outline of the financial obligations of the Archdiocese to Archbishop Nienstedt, as defined by canon law and the regulations of the USCCCB.
  • Any additional information necessary to reveal any remaining issues and restore openness between the Archdiocese and parishioners, unless prohibited by law or promise of confidentiality to lay witnesses;

I have shared this letter with our parish leadership and I will also publish it in an upcoming parish bulletin as I have done in previous correspondence with Archbishop Nienstedt and in summaries of various listening sessions. I will do the same with any response you have. I believe that ongoing transparency is both necessary and critical during this time of crisis. It is my firm belief, as I hope it is yours as well, that it is only through this kind of transparency and openness that our Archdiocese will be able to move forward in healing and hope.  

Thank you for your ministry in and to our Archdiocese.  

Sincerely yours in Christ,

John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary



Thank you so much for your comments and request.

Thank you for this letter. Maybe I will consider coming back to church.

We've all been hurt by this scandal. It would be so wonderful to have you back; Because we need each other.

Thank you, thank for your leadership and compassion. You are in my prayers.
Take care.

Thank you, Father Bauer, for reflecting the sorrow, ongoing concerns and yes, embarrassment which remain deep in many of the Catholic laity and clergy of the Archdiocese. Many will measure the responses by Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens, and Father Lachowitzer for transparency and full heart, to know how much faith to place in our local Church. Leave Jesus, never; believe in local Church leadership, we'll see.

Thank you for writing this clear, caring, courageously assertive letter. If a priest could become a bishop by a majority vote of the laity, I would vote for you.

I understand your suffering, as we have been suffering here in Central Minnesota over the horrific abuse from the monks of St. John's Abbey who have over 200 victims of sexual abuse, most at St. John's Preparatory School.

Are you not curious about the results of the so-called "investigation" into allegations against Fr. Timothy Backous, whose escapades were revealed a year ago? Abbot John denied, deflected, and distorted, but he promised 13 months ago an investigation. Silence is the result.

Backous said many Masses at the Cathedral, and we deserve to know what happened there too.


Thanks for your concern - Fr. Bauer does not regularly monitor the website so I forwarded your request on to him. He is happy to talk with you directly. He can be reached at or you may call him through the Basilica's switchboard at 612.333.1381.


Thank you for being so forthright in your search for the truth. At the very least, the victims deserve whatever can be done to preserve their dignity and relieve them of the burden they have carried for so long.

Your letter to Archbishop Hebda represents the only kind of courage that will lead to healing and growth. Anything short of that perpetuates what has ailed the church for far too long. Cudos to you for your courage and leadership!

Excellent! This is an example of true leadership.
This Church belongs to all of us and true leaders understand that; and serve in faith.

Jeremiah was not the only prophet to have been sent to counsel, direct, encourage, admonish, warn, teach and intercede for us as we seek together the well-being of the city. We will continue to pray that he is heard and we are answered.

Thank you, Fr. Bauer, for understanding and articulating the pain the secrets and evasion the archdiocesean staff have caused. Thanks for your contributions to healing.

Great letter Fr. John to Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens and Fr. Lachowitzer. I hope and pray that he listens to you and the other priests in the diocese. The Church definitely needs to heal. It is time for honesty and openness. I will continue to pray for you and the other priests that are caught in the middle.

Thank you Fr. Bauer for having the strength and courage to write such a fine letter! You've given us the hope we need and you've led the way. Thank you for expressing what so many other leaders have not. Bless you and let's hope for a final and appropriate conclusion to this sad issue.

I think that we should also demand the release of Fr. John M. Baur's file, so that the faithful may know what kind of shepherd they have.

Hi John:

Fr. Bauer will give permission for the release of his personnel file without issue. If you wish to contact Fr. Bauer directly, you may do so at or through the main switchboard at The Basilica of Saint Mary at 612.333.1381.

Peace! --Stephanie


Why would I contact Fr. Bauer about his personnel file? The file is at the chancery.

So as to have something from him that indicates he is has given his consent to have his file released. That's all.

Clap, clap, nice letter, courage, clap, clap --- while you all sat/sil on your hands the survivors lay bleeding from their injuries/damages, that's the real issue here.

I hope that this letter from your heart results in a response that promotes your healing and the healing of those who think like you.

Thank you for the courage and insight expressed in your letter to the Archbishop. I am a former member of the parish during the O'Connell period until my retirement in 2007 as a senior Law Partner at the local Fredrikson & Byron firm. I had been a volunteer in the "homeless" shelter at the Basilica. My wife and I now live in the Florida Keys. I am a proud graduate of St. John's Preparatory in Collegeville (1958) and University of Notre Dame (1962). I am no longer an active Catholic and find myself now affiliated with our local Episcopal church. I share the same "outrage, betrayal, breach of trust and deep sadness mentioned in your letter. I have not personally been a victim of church physical abuse, but I abhor the stories from friends and past classmates. God bless and strengthen you to make a difference in this critical fault our Church has fallen into. Best Wishes, John G. Kost, Islamorada, FL with email addrss of

Thanks for printing my July 1, 2015 ltr to you thanking you for "courage and insight" you expressed, etc. As I mentioned, I am a proud graduate of St. John's Prep '58. My best friend during that period was Luverne (Fr. Bruce) Wollmering, OSB. We welcomed him into our home with our two young children many times during my earlier Navy career when he would travel near us. But, some of his comments became troublesome, and we separated. Some years later, I read of his mysterious death at the Abbey. I of course don't propose the entire Abbey should be darkened by his life, possible actions, and comments. But, his oblique comments suggested presence of a dark environment at the Abbey which I never sensed from any of the monks during my very happy years there 1954-58. Regards, John G. Kost

While I do agree that transparency is important and holding those accountable for their crimes is also important, I think most responses I have heard so far are leaving out the people suffering because of these crimes. I have heard no real credible response from anyone about how our church and Archdiocese is dealing with the people suffering as a whole (victims of clergy abuse, victims of all sexual abuse, family members and friends of those suffering the effects of abuse and all of the parishioners who are grieving, angry, embarrassed and have left the church or who are considering do so). Where is the hope for these people?

What is the compassionate and intentional plan for helping people who are suffering to heal? Everyone seems too afraid and too uncomfortable to talk about the suffering this scandal has caused. The victims of all sexual abuse are feeling very isolated and marginalized by the response thus far.

I would like the people suffering to know that they are welcomed and will be tended to in our church. There are people here who care about them and would like to help them heal. I would like to see our church be a haven for those who seek healing.

Very well said. Healing must be a vital part of the process. Thank's Deb for your passionate and courageous comments, so important to all who have suffered and/or who are still suffering. And, thanks to Fr. Bauer for the courage to speak out to the community and to our Interim leaders. It is time for thorough transparency for sure, accountability and justice as well. Change is not easy, but it is critical as we move forward in love.

Thank you, Father Bauer, for this letter.

I agree that there is a need for the church to responded to those who are suffering and need healing and valadation for their feelings.

At the age of 60 I became Catholic in 2002 during the height of our local sexual abuse crisis. Many of my Protestant family and friends were shocked that I would choose to become a part of this community with all of the horrific revelations that were becoming known.
I have often thought about returning to the protestant faith but with our present pope and the type of comments you reflect Fr Bauer, I have hope for our church to once again become a church of the gospel of Christ. I loved and agreed with the comment above "Leave Jesus never! disappointment in our church - absolutely! "
Fr Bauer- I attend A church that you pastured for many years and have heard scores of people speak of your faithful and holy leadership. Thank you!

After being gone for 3 weeks, it was really great to be back at the Basilica today. It is truly my spiritual home and my safe haven. Great liturgy, great homily, great people, and great priest. I really do applaud Fr. Bauer's willingness to speak his mind. I am just not sure that we will ever get transparency or full disclosure or it may take a very long time. In light of this, I do not think that healing has to wait for transparency and full disclosure. I have been advocating for healing for more than a year now. I think it can begin any time but I am not sure what that entails.

Father Bauer, Thank you for your leadership. I wish I could nominate you as a credible candidate for our next Archbishop. You are a most wonderful pastor and leader for our parish. The letter you wrote is just another example of your Christian, competent, compassionate, exemplary "Shepherding".

God Bless the parishioners who choose to remain uninformed about this issue and deliberately "bury their head in the sand."

God Bless the people who choose to demonize those who are working toward truth and justice.

God Bless the people: all victims, all parishioners, all clergy, all church leaders, non-Catholics and all who surround them (and all of us).

May God Bless and pour His Grace on those who work toward truth and justice.



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