Popular St. Thomas priest Michael Keating takes leave of absence

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said today in a memo to all clergy that the Rev. Michael Keating, a popular speaker and professor at the University of St. Thomas, has taken a leave of absence.

An example of a bland official statement that leaves more people thinking the worst: Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: “The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said today in a memo to all clergy that the Rev. Michael Keating, a popular speaker and professor at the University of St. Thomas, has taken a leave of absence. Several hours later, attorney Jeff Anderson announced he plans to file a lawsuit against Keating on behalf of a woman who says Keating “engaged in sexual contact” with her when she was a minor. The lawsuit will be filed Monday in Ramsey County, the statement said. Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche, who wrote the memo to clergy, characterized the leave as temporary and voluntary. During the leave, “Father Keating will not be exercising public priestly ministry,” Piche wrote. A spokesperson for the archdiocese wouldn’t provide the reason for the leave of absence. “At this point I can only confirm that Fr. Keating has taken a voluntary leave of absence,” spokesperson Jim Accurso said in an email to MPR News on Sunday. Keating did not return a call for comment.”

Sure to set off the usual suspectsJeff Meitrodt and Kim McGuire of the Strib say: “[Rick Tschida] is one of thousands of disabled students in Minnesota who would not qualify for special education in many other parts of the country. And his case shows why the state’s unusually loose eligibility rules for such programs are boosting special education enrollments here even as they are declining nationally. To state education officials, the numbers reflect a progressive, caring approach to children with special needs that other states will emulate. … In Minnesota, students can qualify for special education even if their disabilities do not interfere with their school work. They can be declared disabled if their handicaps affect their social functioning or if they suffer from disorders — including anxiety — that are not included in federal disability definitions.”

Another tale of MNsure glitches … Catharine Richert of MPR says: “Kim Johnson hopes MNsure, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, will help him find reasonably priced coverage for his 15 employees. But when he sought help recently from a local agent certified as a MNsure ‘assister,’ the Hinckley, Minn., business owner was told to come back later. The agent couldn’t help — MNsure hadn’t given her access to a special broker-only website. … Insurance agents are key contacts for Minnesotans trying to navigate MNsure. They make up most of the 1,600 MNsure-certified helpers. Outside of MNSure’s call center, agents have been the main source of help for people like Johnson since the insurance marketplace opened nearly two weeks ago. Agents, however, say there’s little they can do until MNsure gives them access to the broker site.”

The conservative site Reason.com has this to say about that law requiring Minnesota funeral homes to install embalming equipment. Says Eric Boehm: “On Wednesday, Judge John Guthmann ruled in favor of plaintiffs who were challenging an onerous state law requiring funeral homes to install equipment for embalming dead bodies, even when those funeral homes do not use the equipment. The requirement stifles competition and increases prices for consumers by requiring funeral homes to spend $30,000 on unnecessary equipment, the plaintiffs in the case argued. … In defending the law, the department also tried to argue that the embalming room requirement helped prevent fraud by ensuring only legitimate funeral homes entered the market, but Guthmann said that claim seemed ‘to have been condensed out of thin air with absolutely nothing to back it up.’ … Odd and unnecessary laws for funeral homes have been under assault in several states in recent years.”

The local guys playing Somali pirates in that new Tom Hanks movie will be at a “premiere” at the Grandview in St. Paul Tuesday night. The AP says: “Four unknown Somali actors from Minneapolis were cast in ‘Captain Phillips’ as pirates who hijacked an American cargo ship off the Horn of Africa in 2009. Tom Hanks stars as the ship’s captain who is taken captive by the pirates. Three of the Somali actors will appear at the screening, along with search casting director Debbie DeLisi and her assistants.”

Do you think … ? Bill Chappell of NPR reports: “The handling of an oil spill in North Dakota is raising questions, after a state agency waited to tell the public it had taken place. A wheat farmer was the first to recognize the spill had happened; it became public knowledge nearly two weeks later. … One day after [farmer Steve] Jensen spotted the large leak, Tesoro told state officials; 11 days later, the spill became public knowledge. Officials at the North Dakota Department of Health say that at first, they didn’t realize the spill’s size, according to a report filed for our Newscast unit by NPR’s Sam Sanders.”

The Strib’s Dan Browning serves up a profile of the woman in the middle of the archdiocese’s sex scandals: “[A] lawyer for the archdiocese [of  St. Paul and Minneapolis] … characterize[d] [Jennifer] Haselberger as ‘imprudent and unsophisticated.’ But those who know the 38-year-old whistleblower say she is anything but that. They describe Haselberger as savvy and fearless. ‘Whoever said that about her is either a barefaced liar or they’ve never met Jennifer Haselberger. There’s nothing unsophisticated about that woman at all,’ said Larry Frost, a retired Army intelligence operative turned lawyer who squared off with her in mediation over a client’s employment dispute with the church. … Scott Bergstrom, a cousin who lives in Denver, said he saw her at a funeral about that time. He recalled that she had developed ‘an acute interest in women’s and children’s issues.’ She was trying to resolve feminism with Catholicism, he said, ‘and that’s a bit of an intellectual journey, I think.’ Bergstrom said his cousin could do it if anyone could.”

Andy Greder of the PiPress reports: “Two of the Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of Terrance Franklin in May received an honor Saturday for their service in the line of duty. Officers Ricardo Muro and Michael Meath were awarded the Purple Heart from the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s First Responder program, Minneapolis police said. The honor goes to Minnesota officers wounded or killed for their sacrifices in the line of duty, police said. Muro and Meath were shot by Franklin, who had broken into a home and fired on officers, Minneapolis police said. ‘Congratulations to both officers for their sacrifice, service and heroism,’ Minneapolis police said.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Judy Jones on 10/14/2013 - 10:15 am.

    call police

    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day. It takes a lot of courage to come forward about being sexually abused, so let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr Michael Keating. will find the courage to come forward and contact police, not the church officials. They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.

    It is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim. Some have many.
    Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/14/2013 - 10:52 am.

    The importance of word choice

    When I read the Strib’s piece on special ed yesterday, I was surprised to find the pejorative term “loose” used in both the headline and the article. Naively, I still believe that opinion belongs on the opinion pages, not buried in the news section.

    “And his case shows why the state’s unusually loose eligibility rules for such programs are boosting special education enrollments here even as they are declining nationally.”

    Any number of other words could have been substituted for loose: broad and generous are two that come to mind. As used in this article, loose suggests misfeasance or malfeasance on someone’s part, not the conscious choice that was made by the Legislature.

    Sadly, a good percentage of the news-reading public will not have ventured beyond the headline or the lead paragraph and will take with them the idea that our special education programs are mismanaged in some way.

  3. Submitted by Erik Granse on 10/14/2013 - 01:20 pm.

    “Conservative” site

    I’d suggest you did readers a disservice by calling Reason.com a conservative site. It’s pretty true to its stated Libertarian philosophy, a philosophy which generally crosses conservative economic thought with liberal social thought.

    I disagree with nearly all of the economic arguments presented there, but find myself agreeing with almost all of the social issues.

    Furthermore, the content is generally well- and thoughtfully-written, so even when I disagree with the content, I still get an opportunity to learn about how others think. That’s a pretty rare thing, and I think the site deserves more credit than to be pigenholed.

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