Honesty, reconciliation needed from ISTI


The program, “Confession of Sins” aired on Channel 5 on November 10, 2000. A reply was already in print for The Record, quoting Fr. Daniel Durken, by the November 16th issue. How could he have researched it adequately in that time period, enough to make a reply in print, when it has taken us victims decades, and a very good detective and reporter at least one year, and they aren’t even through, to investigate this problem? I’ve been living with this issue for three decades and still don’t know the whole truth.

Fr. Daniel Durken’s comments in the November 16, 2000, issue of The Record, assumed that Channel 5 was there regarding the progress and success of ISTI; however, If there was some substantial progress and success there, I’m sure Rob Leer would have reported on it. People in position at St. John’s Abbey did NOT want to speak to Rob Leer or the detective or the victims or the victim’s families. I still haven’t gotten a call from ISTI. Surely I would have as much experience and insight into the issue of clergy abuse of children as Fr. Gil Gustafson, why doesn’t ISTI want to have my input – as personal as it is to all involved?

I would think that the ISTI, having traveled, researched, lectured and written about the subject to the extent that they have and the money they have spent, would be a little more informed of what victims of clergy abuse actually need in order to get on with their lives in forgiveness and healing.
Did they talk to any victims? They had access to victims right in their own community and they knew it. And they’ve known it for years. What a gold mine that could have been.

It was not news to St. John’s Abbey, that Fr. Richard Ekroth, according to psychological evaluations done on him, was not considered a good candidate for the priesthood, nor was it news to St. John’s Abbey that Fr. Richard Ekroth was a pedophile; they sent him to a treatment facility for Catholic priest pedophiles. So, with this knowledge having been no secret, and having multiple accusations against this man, why would’t St. John’s Abbey be willing to publicly proclaim his guilt for the safety of society and so that justice could he done, victims could heal, and perpetrators could learn. And life, though never to be perfect, would become more perfect.

Fr. Daniel Durken stated that ISTI wants to be “preventative” with the occurrence of clergy childhood sexual abuse. Step 1 to me would seem to be to take care that your present pedophile members are not allowed access to children. No one ever warned me that Fr. Richard Ekroth was a pedophile. No one warned my dad that Fr. Richard Ekroth was a pedophile. So I went to the cabin…

We could talk about the theology of the Sacrament of Penance and the purpose being to unburden your soul to be as free as possible to witness for Christ. In confession, we announce our “sins” as a step to become forgiven; why wouldn’t St. John’s Abbey want to follow the same example? Isn’t it all part of reconciliation?

My reading of the subject says that the recidivism rate for pedophiles is very high and that a “cure” is unlikely. So, of your known pedophile members, what are you doing to help them and to protect others from them and to make sure it never happens again?

Why is a priest exempt from the moral and legal consequences given in our society for the crime of pedophilism? I can forgive who wants to be forgiven and I believe in reform; however, I also believe that justice must be served. Public knowledge of actions and prison sentences are our current means of justice. I understand the St. John’s community is a “family,” as dysfunctional as it is; however, I was also part of that family during periods of my life, and I am also part of my own family and I have a family of my own. I know about community, I know about family. And I know that I, and my family, have suffered more than you and your “family,” St. John’s Abbey.

-Ms. Helen Olson, Minneapolis, Minn.

SJU/CSB Record
February 8, 2001

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Topics: Daniel Durken, Helen Olson, ISTI, Opinion, Richard Eckroth

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