RELIGION
10/31/2013 09:49 am ET

Rev. Stephen O'Gara Slams Minnesota Archdiocese Over Handling Of Priest Abuse Cases, Is 'Embarrassed To Be Catholic'

There have been 18 lawsuits filed against members of the Minnesota Catholic clergy since May, when state law was changed to give abuse victims a three-year window to bring lawsuits that were previously barred by a statute of limitations. Many of the suits also point the finger at the archdiocese, which has a lot to explain when it comes to the alleged cover-ups that took place.

It's not just the victims who are speaking out about this issue. The Rev. Stephen O'Gara, a popular priest from St. Paul, stepped up to demand accountability from the diocese, criticizing Archbishop Nienstedt for his handling of sex abuse scandals in the clergy in a scathing sermon, which you can listen to above.

O'Gara said on Sunday:

He needs to stand before us and explain himself. Only then will we have the respect called to his office. It's about arrogance, and we all fall victim to arrogance in some degree or in some place in our lives. But this is more. This is not some small matter. This is a big deal. It's the first time, I must say, in 69 years that I'm embarrassed to be Catholic.

On Tuesday an unnamed Minnesota woman sued the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for allegedly "failing to protect her from an abusive priest, reports Minnesota Public Radio.

She said that she was sexually abused by the Rev. Robert Thurner at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West St. Paul when she was aged seven to eight. Though Thurner retired in 1991, he admitted in a 1991 deposition that he "touched the genitals of two underage teenage boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s." The lawsuit also alleges that Robert Carlson, the archbishop of St. Louis at the time, was aware that Thurner had sexually abused a child before he was transferred to the woman's church in 1983.

The suit comes soon after yet another complaint against a priest, as another anonymous Minnesota woman filed a lawsuit on October 14 against the Rev. Michael Keating, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, who she says abused her when she was a teenager in the late 1990s. However, an internal church investigation determined that there wasn't sufficient evidence to remove Keating from the ministry.

"It felt like a betrayal times two," she said to Minnesota Public Radio. "First time, I'm betrayed by Keating, and then I'm betrayed by the archdiocese."

Archdiocese priests are meeting on Wednesday for an all-day discussion which will undoubtably include the sexual abuse issue and the way it's been handled, reports the Star Tribune.

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