Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
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A 23-year-old man who shot himself in front of a Kentucky church posted sexual abuse accusations involving Catholic clergy on Facebook just before taking his life.
David M. Jarboe Jr. reserves some of his harshest criticism for the Rev. William Baer, who was rector of a seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Baer was serving in that capacity when Jarboe attended the school for three semesters between 2006-08.
The newspaper reports:
“Jarboe’s post referred to Baer as an “evil man.” Jarboe forgave another priest and thanked a third. He did not accuse any priest of abuse by name but wrote that abuse in the church is “real” and that he hopes to “save at least one child from the pain and torment that I had to go through.”
“Spokesman Dennis McGrath of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said he was unaware of any internal investigation of Baer triggered by the post. He called Baer “very respected” and said Baer has been pastor of an Oakdale, Minn., parish since leaving the seminary in 2010.
“Baer was for 11 years rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary at the university. St. Thomas spokesman Doug Hennes said Baer was “very popular.”
“Father Baer does not know what motivated” the criticism in the Facebook post, Hennes said. “He has had positive conversations with David since he left the seminary — the last one was about a year ago — and is saddened by his death.”
“Baer has never been accused of sexual abuse, Hennes said. Baer did not return a phone message left at his Transfiguration Church on Friday.”
Jarboe was found lying the in the grass at Blessed Mother Catholic Church in Owensboro Thursday morning, the newspaper reports. Owensboro Bishop William F. Medley said the Facebook postings have prompted the diocese “to investigate in accord with diocesan policy.”