COLLEGEVILLE (AP) -- In a rare disclosure, a Benedictine monastery abbot has revealed sexual abuse allegations by former monks against one of his predecessors, adding to a rash of accusations involving Catholic clergy.
The current abbot of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, the Rev. John Klassen, sent a letter Friday to St. John's University officials and students revealing the allegations against the Rev. John Eidenschink.
Klassen said he wanted to put an end to "a culture of secrecy that makes sexual abuse and exploitation possible." He said the allegations, which stemmed from incidents in the 1970s, had never been discussed, even within the monastery.
The St. Cloud Times reported Saturday that Eidenschink, abbot from 1971-1979, was in poor health at the monastery and wasn't available for comment.
"We are deeply sorry that the abuse happened," Klassen said. "In each case, there is no question in my mind that the abuse did occur."
The victims received settlements that included counseling, legal fees and a living stipend. Eidenschink was removed from his responsibilities as pastor of a parish and assigned as chaplain of a nursing home. He now lives at the abbey's retirement center.
The letter was sent to alumni, staff members and administrators at St. John's and its sister school, the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. It also was posted on the abbey's Web site.
Klassen said in the letter that the information "needs to see the light of day for the sake of the integrity, healing and continued vitality of St. John's Abbey."
Klassen said other allegations of sexual abuse at the abbey already have been made public.
"If the accusations were credible," he said, "the accused were required to undergo treatment, and upon returning to their monastic community they were allowed to work only in positions where others would not be vulnerable."
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