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Sessions to discuss claims against priests

The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud will host a series of sessions to discuss claims of sexual misconduct by priests in the diocese.

One of the sessions is intended for the parish communities in Alexandria, Belle River, Glenwood, Lake Reno, Osakis and West Union. It will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, at the Church of St. Mary in Alexandria.

Bishop Donald Kettler and Roxann Storms, diocesan victim assistance coordinator, are scheduled to attend.

A news release from the diocese said the gatherings have three primary goals: "to assure parishioners of Kettler's support and assistance, offer a process whereby sexual misconduct issues and concerns can be voiced and discussed, and allow other victims the opportunity to come forward and receive healing and assistance."

The diocese has held similar listening sessions in the past.

The Minnesota Child Victims Act lifted for three years the civil statute of limitations for allegations of past sexual abuse of minors.

The upcoming meetings are in response to 74 claims made against 31 clergy members under that act. The period to make a claim ended last May. The diocese has 131 parishes.

Most of the allegations claim the abuse happened many years or decades ago. None of those accused were still working in parish ministry when the reporting period ended.

The list of accused clergy includes Henry Lutgen, St. Mary's, Alexandria, 1947-1950; Donald Rieder, St. Mary's, Alexandria, 1955-1958; James Mohm, Immaculate Conception, Osakis, 1945-1949; Sylvester Gall, St. Nicholas, Belle River, 1954-1958; and Allan Speiser, St. John Nepomuk, Lake Reno and Our Lady of the Runestone, Kensington, 1973-1974.

All are deceased and served multiple locations within the diocese. The abuse allegations may have come from other parishes.

Kettler also will preside at a diocesan-wide healing service at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Holy Angels Performing Arts Center in St. Cloud.

"Healing is the most important mission Jesus has given to us and the Church," Kettler said in the news release. "If someone has been hurt in any way — but particularly by sexual abuse — I hope they can participate in this service and experience some degree of healing and peace.