Ex-archbishop urged 'tough' stand on priest abuse allegation

Rev. Joseph Wajda
The Rev. Joseph Wajda.
The Catholic Bulletin

Attorney Jeff Anderson on Wednesday released more clergy documents from a massive lawsuit that has forced the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to turn over more than 60,000 internal documents on priests accused of sexually abusing children.

The documents released today involve the Rev. Joseph Wajda, who was accused of sexually abusing children decades earlier. The archdiocese removed Wajda from parish assignments in 1991 and the Vatican decided to kick him out of the priesthood last year.

The allegations against Wajda are already well known. Then-Archbishop Harry Flynn named Wajda in 2002 as a priest accused of sexual abuse, and the claims received extensive media coverage.

Wajda, 67, has denied the abuse claims and said he has appealed his case to the Vatican.

The documents are part of a lawsuit that alleges the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona created a public nuisance by keeping information on abusive priests secret. The man who filed the suit claims he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the 1970s.

The case has also forced the depositions of Archbishop John Nienstedt, former Archbishop Harry Flynn and other top officials. It also required church officials to make public the names of abusive priests and turn over documents to the plaintiff's attorneys.

Anderson, who has previously sued the Archdiocese on behalf of alleged victims of Wajda, released 38 pages from the priest's internal file. They indicate that church leaders knew of an unspecified allegation against Wajda in 1987.

Then-Archbishop John Roach indicated in a Nov. 13, 1987 memo that the archdiocese did not believe one of the allegations.

"If you are satisfied that the charge by [redacted] against Joseph Wajda is groundless, I suggest that we really stay tough on it," Roach wrote to then-Bishop Robert Carlson. "I would not agree to any offer of counselling (sic) services, since in Anderson's mind that virtually amounts to an admission of guilt."

Wajda was ordained in 1973. He previously served at St. Raphael in Crystal, Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights, St. Rose of Lima in Roseville, St. Joseph in Waconia, Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Minneapolis, St. Andrew in St. Paul, and Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul.