Archdiocese hires Los Angeles firm to review priest files

Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis Chancery
The headquarters of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is located on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, across the street from the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Amanda Snyder / MPR

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has hired a Los Angeles-based consulting firm to review the personnel files of all its priests, as part of the church's approach to dealing with allegations of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct.

• MPR News investigation: Archdiocese under scrutiny

The archdiocese on Thursday said it hired Kinsale Management Consulting to conduct a review of the priest files. The firm was founded by Kathleen McChesney, a former top FBI official and former head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Child and Youth Protection.

A statement by the archdiocese said the review process is slated to begin in early December and will start with clergy currently in ministry.

The firm did not provide a timeline for when they will finish their work or how much the review will cost the archdiocese.

"Their expertise and leadership in addressing the problem of abuse of minors will ensure that Kinsale's review of our clergy files will be objective and thorough," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a prepared statement. "With the benefit of this level of review, we will proceed confidently with ongoing disclosure."

The file review is just one part of Nienstedt's plan for handling an unfolding clergy sex abuse crisis. He announced in October that a lay task force will review the clergy files and pledged to release the names, location and status of priests who it is determined have sexually abused children.

Nienstedt's actions come after a series of reports by MPR News that found the archdiocese kept a priest in active ministry despite his confession that he sexually abused children, disregarded a priest's sexual addiction, debated whether a priest's computer contained child pornography and made extra payments to priests who were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

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