According to a recent Abbey publication (Saint John’s Abbey E-News, February 2013): “Some wonderful vocation news! In recent months the abbey has welcomed three monks who, for one reason or another, transferred from other monasteries to Saint John’s.” Two of the monks (Bernadine Ness and Michael Peterson) came from an abbey (Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota) whose abbot (Denis Quinkert) was credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
[Webmaster’s Note: The following email was sent to Blue Cloud Abbey’s Abbot Denis Quinkert on June 1, 2012. The abbey announced it was closing on June 12, 2012.]
Email to Blue Cloud Abbey’s Abbot Denis Quinkert on June 1, 2012
A letter from Rev. Msgr. Dennis A. Skonseng dated April 23, 2008 reads, in part, “Blue Cloud Abbey was informed and addresses Father Quinkert about his misconduct with women. In 1991, Father Quinkert participated in a sabbatical during which he received counseling and spiritual direction.” and “Abbot Hillenbrand has sent a letter of good standing to me testifying that Father Quinkert is a priest in good standing, and that he is suitable to exercise priestly ministry.”
A letter from Abbot Thomas Hillebrand dated November 24, 2008 reads, in part, “[Denis Quinkert] does know that he was going though a crisis in his vocation and a deep struggle with his own sexuality. And he is deeply sorry for the hurt that he caused you.” and “The favor that I want to ask of you is that you do not mention that incident outside of the sacrament of Confession. It causes a lot of damages to his character and sets off all sorts of alarms in the official Church.”
These and other documents suggest that Abbot Quinkert is not a suitable leader. Fr. Hillenbrand’s attempt to silence the victims of Quinkert’s misconduct is equally shameful.
What is being done for Quinkert’s victims? How many other victims of misconduct (by Quinkert and other monks) were silenced by Fr. Hillenbrand and other enablers at the abbey?
Before these questions are asked publicly, it may be appropriate for Abbot Quinkert to step down as abbot. It may also be appropriate for both Fr. Hillenbrand and Abbot Quinkert to make known their misconduct to the proper civil and canonical authorities.