Thank God for Jennifer Haselberger. Haselberger, who holds a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, became chancellor of canonical affairs for the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese in 2008. She had held a similar post in the Fargo, N.D., diocese. In St. Paul-Minneapolis, she reviewed the archdiocese's records and archives and discovered unreported allegations of clergy sex abuse and lapses in investigations (NCR, Oct. 25-Nov. 7.)
"I was not prepared for this disregard for the requirements of canon law, nor for what appeared to be an equal disregard for civil law, especially in regard to the obligation to report to the civil authorities," Haselberger told NCR.
She repeatedly took her concerns to Archbishop John Nienstedt, but they were ignored and rebuffed. Haselberger, 38, resigned her position in April 2013, saying she found it impossible to continue, knowing that such reckless disdain for the law and the U.S. bishops' own procedures still existed and that her efforts to rectify them had proved futile. So, she alerted law officials and the media. These public revelations have resulted in resignations of key archdiocesan personnel, a public review of how the archdiocese handles abuse allegations, and several police investigations.
Haselberger says she draws inspiration from a phrase she learned as an undergraduate student at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul: "Be loving critics and critical lovers of the institutional church."
And that is why Jennifer Haselberger is NCR's person of the year for 2013.
See also the previous PCV posts:
Statement by Jennifer Haselberger
Priest Demands Nienstedt Explain Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, "Regime Change is Not Enough"
New Disclosure Practices? Healing?