Several priests on the archdiocese’s list have denied wrongdoing. One of them, the Rev. Joseph Wajda, strongly denied again Thursday that he abused anyone. Wajda, 66, of Minneapolis, has been accused of child sex abuse in three lawsuits and was permanently removed from ministry in 2003, though he is still a priest. He said he continues to fight to clear his name under canon law proceedings.
“When I stand before the judgment of God, I will be vindicated from this stuff,” Wajda said.
The list names several priests who were placed in new parishes without the church giving any warning to families that they had been the subject of alleged or confirmed sexual misconduct, including Kern and the Rev. Thomas Adamson.
Jamie Heutmaker and Al Michaud, who were abused in separate instances by Kern in the late 1960s and 1970s and later received settlements, said at a news conference that the list will help end clergy abuse.
“If they only did the right thing when things were first reported, we wouldn’t be here,” Michaud said.
Jim Keenan, who was abused by Adamson in the 1980s, said he is disappointed in the archdiocese for waiting so long to go public with the list. He said he hopes law enforcement agencies will pursue criminal charges.
Eleven of the 34 priests named Thursday are dead. Another cleric, the Rev. Ronan Liles, is believed to be dead, the archdiocese reported. All were removed from the ministry at some point, including two as recently as 2012 — the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer and Palmitessa.
Catholic parishioners had mixed reaction to the list, which first appeared on the website of the Catholic Spirit newspaper.
Heading to mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on Thursday, David Erb said he was glad to see the list released.
“It’s about 50 years overdue,’’ said Erb of St. Paul. “They’ve been hiding it too long. It’s good for the church. It was making people second guess the motives of leadership.”
Added Tom Williams of Bloomington, “I think the good Lord is up there shaking his head.”
Richard Layer, on his way to mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul, said it was time to release the list and move on.
“It’s like a boxer getting his glove caught in a rope: Anyone who walks by can take a swing,” said Layer of St. Paul.
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, whose lawsuit filed in Ramsey County on behalf of a victim became the vehicle for prying open the list, called Thursday’s release a “sorrowful and partial’’ victory.
“Today our communities are safer, survivors know that they are not alone and law enforcement will have more information about the crimes committed within this archdiocese,” Anderson said at a news conference. “We applaud each and every courageous survivor who has broken the silence and fought for this day.”
Meanwhile, St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla said the department is reviewing the list and has heard from “several” victims who have come forward recently. “Come to us and let us hear your stories,” he said. “That’s what we need to start investigations.”
Nienstedt again apologized for the decades-long scandal in the archdiocese, which serves more than 800,000 Roman Catholics across 12 counties.