Other Views

Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials

Catholics must demand

achdiocese changes

What would you do if you just discovered the highest-ranking leaders of an organization you thoroughly believe in have for almost 30 years misled everyone to cover up crimes of their front-line leaders?

Catholics across Minnesota – along with the Vatican and even Pope Francis – need to be asking themselves that question about the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul in the wake of astounding news reports this month from Minnesota Public Radio. Yes, astounding.

“Betrayed by Silence” uses online reports and a radio documentary to detail how three archbishops – John Roach, Harry Flynn and now John Nienstedt – consistently told the public they were resolving clergy sex abuse while essentially doing the opposite.

As a five-part report posted Monday shows, all three leaders routinely found ways to cover up, discredit and ignore an ever-growing number of cases against priests they supervised. From Roach’s early ignorance of the scandal in the 1980s, through Flynn’s misleading national reputation as a healer, to Nienstedt’s feeble claim about no knowledge of the cover-up as recently as last fall, MPR cites a litany of internal memos, secret agreements and individual interviews to yield one undeniable conclusion: These bishops and the archdiocese’s top leaders knew for decades about abusive priests, but they seldom followed church protocol (in large part developed by Flynn) to confront them. Instead, they adhered to a well-established pattern of deception, intimidation and silence, which allowed more abuse to occur, while giving the public the perception they had the problems under control.

Flynn and Nienstedt’s roles were especially egregious. Flynn developed a national reputation as a “healer” built from supposedly counseling victims in Louisiana. The problem? He never talked to many victims there. Still, he rode those uncredible credentials to become archbishop in Minnesota, where for years he continued the cover-up, essentially ignoring the protocols he helped create. As for Nienstedt, his credibility continues to unravel as more files show he knew about the coverup but did nothing until a church lawyer finally went to MPR with files proving Catholics have indeed been “Betrayed by Silence.”

From the local parish council to Pope Francis, Catholics now know the extent of this betrayal. Will they demand it end? Or stay silent?

St. Cloud Times, July 24

A welcome turnabout on MNsure rates

Good call, Gov. Dayton.

Releasing information about next year’s health insurance premiums around Oct. 1 makes sense for families and businesses preparing for decision-making this fall.

The rates are a political hot button, with worries that they would be kept under wraps until after Election Day. Rates for policies sold through MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, weren’t to be made public until Nov. 15, the opening date for enrollment for coverage in 2015.

But in a letter released Tuesday, Dayton said he is asking state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to work with health insurance companies on the matter.

The governor’s move toward transparency represented a duly noted change of heart. On Monday, Dayton said such release would only fuel further controversy as gubernatorial opponents take aim at MNsure during this year’s campaign. Dayton’s letter notes a formal rate-review process and other procedural steps that must be completed before the release, and he makes clear that the timetable would change “if unforeseen complications develop.” As for the health plans, “our position is that we believe consumers need good information as early as practical to allow them to make decisions for themselves and family members,” said Eileen Smith, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, which maintains that the process must not give any organization a competitive advantage over another. The commerce department’s objective, Dayton’s letter said, “is, and should be, to review the proposed health insurance rates and act to ensure Minnesotans continue to benefit from the lowest possible rates with each of the plans.”

For now, MNsure’s rates on average are the lowest in the nation. However, MNsure’s rates seem likely to increase in 2015. The plans, competing for business, priced their offerings competitively in preparation for the exchange’s launch last fall. New rates will reflect experience in the actual marketplace. The rates will give Minnesotans information they need as they make their health care decisions. If they come to bear in their decisions on their election ballots as well, that’s good, too.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 22