Occasionally, Anderson said, he would notify McDonough when someone came in with credible claims of clergy abuse that were not headed to litigation.
McDonough would come over and take down all the information, expressing sadness and concern, Anderson said.
In the end, Anderson said he came to believe that McDonough was most concerned with using the information to quiet victims and limit the church’s potential exposure.
“It’s a paradox in a sense that he has an authenticity and sincerity to him that makes him warm and makes you respect him,” Anderson said. “And then it so contradicts some of his actions, that are so different from the man you see and think you know.”
Deep St. Paul roots
McDonough’s family has a supersized footprint in the local Catholic faith, around the Twin Cities and even in national politics.
The oldest of 11 children, McDonough is head pastor at the small, diverse Church of St. Peter Claver. He has served as grand marshal of St. Paul’s famed St. Patrick’s Day parade. His brother, Denis, is President Obama’s chief of staff.
McDonough is gregarious and moves easily among his parishioners, who include many African immigrants. At 58, he has wispy, gray hair and engaging eyes that lock in for even a casual greeting. “I am Father Kevin,” he says to guests, between hugs, high-fives and handshakes.
During the 10 a.m. mass last weekend, McDonough said he planned to address “this archdiocesan leadership crisis.” Immediately after, he convened a private meeting with the parish. Journalists were not welcome. “This is a family conversation,” he said.
Those in the 30-minute meeting said that someone asked McDonough if he has a clear conscience about his actions. He told them he does.
One Twin Cities priest said McDonough faced an unfathomable burden of having to be obedient to the archbishop, protect the church and still heal victims of abuse. He believes McDonough failed to understand the severity of the problems he was confronting among priests who needed serious professional help.
“He’s a cocky guy, and I think he thought he was smarter than these psychopaths and narcissists,” said the Rev. Mike Tegeder, a Minneapolis pastor. “But you can’t outsmart them. They know what they are doing.”
A victim’s story
One victim of priest sexual abuse praises McDonough as someone who displayed tireless dedication to her healing.
Nancy Galatowitsch said that beginning at age 12, she was sexually abused repeatedly by the pastor of St. John Vianney, in South St. Paul. She said that the priest also had sexual relationships with adult women.
Around 1993, Galatowitsch became overwhelmed by a flood of emotions from the abuse. She called McDonough and told him what happened several decades before.
The offending priest had been dead for years, but McDonough assured her that the archdiocese would pay for her therapy and medication.
For seven years, the archdiocese paid every bill.