Parishioners Want Greater Winona Diocese Response

By Jeff Dankert
Winona Daily News [Winoma MN]
Downloaded May 29, 2003

In a meeting Tuesday to discuss recent sexual misconduct charges against a priest, some of the 35 area Catholics that gathered also alleged that distrust separates them and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona.

The parishioners said church leaders have slowly withdrawn communication with parishioners and are unresponsive to their inquiries.

The meeting, organized by the Winona Voice of the Faithful, focused mostly on recent news that the Rev. Edward F. McGrath was charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in St. Paul and put on leave of absence as pastor of Pax Christi church in Rochester.

McGrath, 48, was arrested May 7 at a St. Paul park for making sexual advances on an undercover officer during a police sting.

More news emerged this month that a man has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Winona for sexual assaults he claims took place 36 years ago at the hands of the Rev. Thomas Adamson.

This comes in the wake of a nationwide sexual abuse scandal and cover-up rocking the catholic church.

Parishioners say their calls and letters to Bishop Bernard Harrington and other diocesan leaders have not been answered and they fear destructive gossip will take its place.

Harrington was out of town Wednesday. Spokesman Ivan Kubista tried to address concerns in a letter to the editor published Wednesday that he said the bishop has met with parishes the last two weekends.

In an interview, Kubista said he's received no specific requests for information beyond what is known.

"As far as I'm concerned, they know as much as I know, and what the bishop knows," he said. "It's an open book."

As for any questions about how the diocese views and treats McGrath's behavior, Kubista said, "I think the fact that he's no longer pastor is one statement."

People looking for more response from Harrington can read his article in the next issue of the Courier, the diocese's newspaper. It will be mailed out on Friday, Kubista said.

He said Harrington's response also will be posted on the diocese's Web site,

McGrath made his first appearance May 9 in Ramsey County District Court and is scheduled to appear again July 21 for an evidentiary hearing.

Also caught in the May 7 police sting and charged with a similar offense is Jonathan J. Marxhausen, 38, a pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Woodbury, Minn. He also is scheduled to appear in court July 21.

Contact reporter Jeff Dankert at or (507) 453-3513.


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