On Sunday, the Washington Post printed a front-page story detailing allegations of sexual and physical abuse within the People of Praise and its affiliated Trinity Schools. We are among the people who shared their stories of child abuse with the Post.
Three of us grew up in the Twin Cities area. We are aware that the People of Praise is now preparing to discuss reforms as a group, and we know from experience that there are people of good will within their membership. To these members, we suggest pushing for the following reforms:
- Acknowledge publicly that there has been a systematic failure to protect People of Praise children from abuse.
- Compile a list of e-mails of former Trinity Schools students, former People of Praise members as well as children who grew up in the People of Praise. Send out an e-mail encouraging them to report all cases of sexual or physical abuse that occurred within the People of Praise or its Trinity Schools to the police.
- As the Catholic Church does, publicly name all who have been credibly accused of abuse or concealing abuse within the People of Praise or its schools.
- Publicly remove all credibly accused members from the People of Praise and/or Trinity Schools on an ongoing basis.
- Place an equal number of women in the highest leadership positions in the group and give them an equal vote in all of the group's decisions. Had a more egalitarian structure been in place long ago, we think that at least some of the original abuse might have been avoided.
- Reform the organization's culture around "gossip" and "right speech," which we believe has helped keep members from sharing information about abuse.
To people of good will in the People of Praise, we ask you to step forward and implement these reforms to hold perpetrators accountable. To members of the media, we ask you to check in with the group periodically to see whether they have met these reforms. To all witnesses, victims and whistleblowers, we ask you to report cases of abuse to law enforcement immediately.
Katie Logan, Eden Prairie
Sarah Kuehl, New Market, Minn.
Rebecca Grundhofer, Eden Prairie
Kevin Connolly, Philadelphia
CATHOLIC CHURCH ABUSE
How is he still a pastor?
As reported in the archdiocesan newspaper the Catholic Spirit, a review board has recommended that the Rev. Kevin McDonough should be barred from leadership roles in the archdiocese, and yet "he is considered fit for his current parish ministry assignment" as pastor of the Church of the Incarnation in Minneapolis — which is a leadership position. The archdiocese owes its people an explanation for this decision.
Frank Schweigert, St. Paul
So the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis found that former Vicar General Kevin McDonough "failed" to keep children safe within the church ("Church sex abuse watchdog 'failed,'" June 4). Regretfully, his failure wasn't limited to youth sexually abused within the Catholic community. For years during the 1990s and 2000s, McDonough was the leading and most effective opponent at the Minnesota Legislature against passage of legislation that would allow adult survivors of child sexual abuse a "window" of time to seek justice in the courts and shine light on active perpetrators. That window didn't pass the Legislature until 2013. The reverend failed all of our children, for decades.
Ember Reichgott Junge, Minneapolis
The writer is a former Minnesota state senator and former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bid to deny communion will only drive more churchgoers away
The "communion wars" ("'Communion wars' play out ahead of conference," June 16) bring to my mind then-candidate John F. Kennedy's September 1960 speech to the Southern Baptist Convention clergy in Houston, Texas, when he felt compelled to argue: "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic." Getting ready to vote in my first national election, I, a Catholic seminarian at the time, saw the wisdom of Kennedy's declaration in the face of widespread fears that he would do the bidding of the Pope as president of the United States, not the work of protecting our Constitution. Thus he faced anti-Catholic bias and questions about his loyalty to the U.S. Constitution vs. his loyalty to the Vatican and Catholic Church teachings.
The Catholic bishops who are proposing banning Catholic politicians from receiving communion because they don't toe the line of Catholic Church teachings are dividing Catholics but more importantly are dividing Americans on the basis of religious litmus tests. These conservative bishops of the American Catholic Church don't seem to recognize that they have already lost a significant level of moral authority due to their failure to deal effectively with the crisis of sexual abuse within some Catholic clergy. Their proposed action to assert Catholic religious authority over the president of the United States will just add to that loss of moral authority as the Catholic Church's social justice teachings on many issues are being sacrificed to the political expediency of conservative politics around the issue of abortion and birth control. In the future these same bishops will question why they are not listened to, why so many younger Catholics are abandoning the Catholic Church and why secularization seems to be growing in America. They will find the answer to that question, at least partially, in their misguided "communion wars."
David W. Gagne, Minneapolis
U.S. Catholic Bishops, President Joe Biden and others: Not to worry — we Lutherans will be happy to have you join us anytime for Holy Communion with love, joy and integrity for doing right thing.
Barbara Nylen, Minneapolis
Calm down. Facts are unknown.
To those who are protesting at Girard Avenue and Lake Street ("Barricades rise and fall in Uptown struggle," June 16), please consider this:
You don't know what happened. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Winston Smith Jr. fired first from inside his car. But his girlfriend says she never saw a gun. Surely the U.S. Marshals Service erred in not allowing deputies to wear body cameras. So, unfortunately, we are left with incomplete information.
Your encouragement of lawbreaking makes our city unlivable. This is the sequence: righteous protesters block streets, then graffiti writers tag everything, then windows are broken, then fires and looting occur. Result: Businesses leave a once-vibrant part of the city, and people move away.
To those who protest at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue:
Neighbors want a decent memorial to George Floyd and also want the intersection open. Businesses and customers cannot tolerate indefinitely an environment that encourages crime. Please stop the vigilante behavior!
David Sommer, Minneapolis
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