Church to Hold Meeting on Priest's Arrest
By Jeff Dankert
Winona Daily News [Winona MN]
May 25, 2003
Winona area Catholics will get a chance Tuesday to voice their concerns about the recent arrest of the Rev. Edward F. McGrath and the response of the Winona Diocese. Advertisement
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The Winona Voice of the Faithful is sponsoring a listening session at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the commons of St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1303 W. Broadway.
McGrath, a former pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Rollingstone, was arrested May 7 in a St. Paul park and charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. He is accused by police of rubbing his genitals and those of an undercover police officer, according to the complaint.
Winona Voice of the Faithful is a group of Winona area Catholics who want to mend divisions between parishioners and the clergy caused by the recent national sex abuse and cover-up scandal by the Catholic church.
Jim Allaire, chairman of the group, said Friday in a letter to the editor that "the official diocesan response to McGrath's arrest has been confusing to many, appearing to distance itself from the event and to make fine distinctions that common sense rejects."
Ivan Kubista, spokesman for the Diocese of Winona, said last week the criminal charge against McGrath does not violate the diocesan sexual misconduct policy because it involved McGrath's personal life and not his church life.
The diocese said it is willing to provide professional counseling to McGrath.
Allaire said parishioners have told him they want more details about the church's handling of McGrath, and it's "not terribly clear what the intent or the thrust was" of the diocese's response.
"We look forward to hearing what that means," he said.
He wants the church to restore "people's confidence in their ability to handle this situation," he said.
"The diocese is proceeding to investigate and keep us informed," Allaire said. "The major problem is the behavior of the priest that embarrassed and angered people."
The gross misdemeanor complaint says the St. Paul police vice unit operated an undercover sting at Crosby Farm Park on May 7.
McGrath, 48, was one of three men arrested and he immediately was put on leave of absence from his duties as pastor of Pax Christi church in Rochester.
The diocese is offering counseling to Pax Christi parishioners and will hold listening sessions this weekend in Rochester, Allaire said.
Allaire asks that people contact him for more information at 452-7224, or e-mail jallaire@@charter.net.
On the Web:
Winona Voice of the Faithful: www.ipaul.com/winvoice.
Diocese of Winona: www.dow.org
Contact reporter Jeff Dankert at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (507) 453-3513.
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