Monk, St. John’s Abbey apologize for message prompted by blog post


(SC Times) COLLEGEVILLE — Officials at St. John’s Abbey are doing damage control after one of its monks sent an expletive-ridden anonymous message to a blogger who has chronicled sexual abuse of students by abbey monks.

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Brother Peter Sullivan reportedly wrote to the blogger, Patrick Marker, “I hope you die in a car accident” and “Die a hundred deaths you worthless crap stain of a human being.”

As first reported by KMSP-TV Fox 9 News, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the message, which was sent last week. The sheriff’s office confirmed the investigation Monday but said it’s too early to say where it could lead.

Marker is a former St. John’s Preparatory School student who says he started his blog, “Behind the Pine Curtain,” to shine a light on sexual abuse he and others suffered from St. John’s Abbey monks.

Sullivan apparently wrote the profane message after reading his own name on Marker’s blog. Marker posted a list of all monks at St. John’s Abbey since 1950, not just those who abused kids.

Sullivan accused Marker of defaming all of the abbey’s monks, according to a transcript of an exchange between the two provided by Marker and acknowledged by abbey officials.

“Are you that retarded to think that all of them are guilty?” Sullivan reportedly wrote. “You are a real (expletive).

“You are more of a victimizer than any of them you (expletive).”

Marker said he was shocked by the message, especially by the suggestion he’s “more of a victimizer” than child abusers.

Tracing the sender

After receiving the anonymous message, Marker says he traced its sender first to the Collegeville area, then to Sullivan. He says he contacted Sullivan by email, who acknowledged he sent the message and apologized.

In an email to the Times, Brother Aelred Senna, a spokesman for the abbey, acknowledged Sullivan’s remarks as what he called an “inappropriate emotional response.” Senna said he hopes Marker will accept apologies from Sullivan and the abbey’s leader, Abbot John Klassen.

“As both Abbot John and Brother Peter have acknowledged, there is no excuse for the comments made to Mr. Marker,” Senna wrote.

Senna declined to say if Sullivan is being disciplined for the incident, saying only that Klassen is addressing the matter directly.

Marker, now a resident of the Seattle area, is a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by St. John’s Abbey monk Dunstan Moorse when Marker was a student at the prep school. He has written extensively about allegations of abuse by abbey monks, drawing fire from some who say he posted inaccurate information and unfairly tarnished innocent monks.

That point also was reflected in Senna’s statement to the Times.

“The misconduct by some and the pain that has been imposed on victims has been felt by all members of our community,” Senna wrote. “Mr. Marker has cast a broad net, accusing the guilty and the innocent with equal vigor.

“Sometimes all of us — those who are pursuing the facts surrounding cases of misconduct and those who are unfairly cast as guilty — need to do a better job of assuring that the victims always remain foremost in our efforts to promote healing.”

‘Good monks as well as bad’

Marker says he posted the names of all St. John’s Abbey monks as a resource for the public. He says he clearly indicated that not all names posted were of monks accused of misconduct.

Marker has frequently clashed with abbey and prep school officials after he resigned from the abbey’s external review board in 2006. He said he did so in protest of abbey foot-dragging in releasing the names of monks and priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse against them.

One recent dust-up came this summer, when Marker was kicked out of a St. John’s Preparatory School reunion. The school later issued him an apology for that incident.

The suggestion that he’s on a mission to indiscriminately bash the abbey or prep school is one Marker rejects. He says he’s trying to restore the integrity of the institutions by bringing past abusers to justice.

“It’s time for the abbey to recognize that ultimately, I’m on their side,” Marker said.

Yet Marker says he’s disheartened by what he calls a lack of sincere outreach to victims by the abbey. He says he hopes there are monks there willing to call out the institution for what he describes as a pattern of covering up abuse and failing to engage openly and honestly with abuse survivors.

“If the monastery is to survive, we need good monks working on behalf of the entire community, and not just interested in self-preservation and toeing the company line,” Marker said. “I’m looking for good monks as well as bad monks.”

After his exchange with Sullivan, Marker said: “The number of good monks has gone down by one.”

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Monk, St. John’s Abbey apologize for message prompted by blog post
December 16, 2013
St. Cloud Times
Mark Sommerhauser

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Topics: Aelred Senna, John Klassen, Pat Marker, Peter Sullivan

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