Monday, July 29, 2013

The Archdiocese and Fathers Conlin and Schüller

By Michael V. Tegeder

Note: Following is Fr. Mike Tegeder's response to both the "upsetting situation" within the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis involving Fr. Dan Conlin and the "message of high importance" he received last week from the chancery concerning an event at St. Frances Cabrini parish featuring a webcast of Austrian priest Fr. Helmut Schüller, currently in the U.S. on a speaking tour. Fr. Tegeder's response was first published in the parish bulletin of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, where he serves as pastor.

Last weekend when I was in El Paso, Texas, for the National Tekakwitha Conference for Indian Ministry, the Pioneer Press published an article about Fr. Dan Conlin, an Archdiocesan priest, who fathered a child, was taken out of his parish abruptly, and then bizarrely assigned to the marriage tribunal to judge the marriages of faithful Catholics seeking to remain in good standing in the church. A number of people, including some priests of the Archdiocese, have known parts of this sorry story.

This very upsetting situation was difficult to confirm and an innocent family including their children was involved who did not need this story to go public.

It was most upsetting that this took place as the Archbishop was holding himself up to be a defender of marriage in his crusade for the 'marriage amendment' that he so intemperately supported. This included attacking the committed relationships of many gay couples and their families, including their children; sending a DVD into their homes saying that their committed relationships were a threat to children.

I have sadness for those involved in the Pioneer Press article, especially the family. This is another fruit of mandatory celibacy. When will the church leadership open their minds and hearts to the realities of real people?


At the Tekakwitha conference I met many Indian Catholics who have had their parish priests removed without any replacement and no explanation. The bishops simply cannot fulfill their most basic responsibility to staff parishes. Apparently they are simply resigned to closing these communities some of which have existed over 400 years in the Southwest.

But the real issue for us is the terrible decisions made by Archbishop Nienstedt. The Marriage Tribunal? What was he thinking? The priest could have been judging the very marriage he broke up. The Archbishop has again failed and embarrassed us. I hope that we are not resigned to this.

Any pro-active concerns

The priests of the archdiocese received this last Monday from the Peter Laird, our Vicar General:

As many of you are no doubt aware of by now, the St. Paul Pioneer Press published a lengthy article regarding Fr. Dan Conlin on Sunday (7.21.13). Due to the sensitive and personal nature of this situation we have not commented pro-actively. In addition, since the publication no other media outlets have contacted us and we have received only one email from the public as of 3:00 pm.

We have tried for some time now to honor the privacy and respect the dignity of those involved, especially the mother and child. The situation is clearly regrettable and has never been condoned or excused. However, as has been the case for nearly a decade, we must also continue to deal with everyone involved with compassion and mercy.

If you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Again, my concern is with the Archbishop and his judgment which is totally evaded. And the Vicar General is taking solace in the number of follow up stories?

Not condoned? What have been the costs? A complete accounting needs to be released of the monies which have been spent and continue to be spent to rehabilitate Conlin and to attempt to keep this matter under wraps.

"This message sent with high importance"

The above heading was on an email I received about having a webcast at Cabrini last Wednesday of Father Helmut Schüller, an Austrian priest of some accomplishment who is calling for church reform. The message followed:

Dear Fr. Tegeder,

Fr. Laird has asked me to email you on his behalf to follow up on his voicemail regarding the event tonight at St. Frances Cabrini. Because no permission was sought from the Archdiocese to host the event, it only came to his attention late this afternoon.

The directive from Fr. Laird is that this event featuring Fr. Schüller's presentation is not to be hosted at St. Frances Cabrini. Please respond indicating that you received this message and that the event has been cancelled. If you have any questions, please contact me or Fr. Laird.

Thank you,

Susan Mulheron, JCL | Interim Chancellor for Canonical Affairs [this seems to be a most fitting title]

After a rather exhausting day of travel from the convention I responded:

As it turns out I just got back from the National Tekakwitha Conference for Indian Ministry and actually was in the air when the Vicar General's call was made to me. I was not able to comply with any dictates from the Chancery due to the Homeland Security regulations about cell phones during air flight. There are sacrifices we all must make for purposes of national security.

The conference was in El Paso, Texas, and believe it or not even there I became aware of the newspaper article about the scandalous situation regarding the Archbishop's incredible dealings with Father Conlin.

You have bigger fish to fry than a concern with Catholics seeking a voice in church reform as Canon Law requires. In fact, I would like to ask you and the VG a few questions. Conlin on the Marriage Tribunal? He could have been judging the very marriage he broke up!

Let's have a public forum where we can continue this needed conversation. We can even invite Father Helmut Schüller who seems to be rather prophetic.

"Because no permission was sought..." Why does a group of committed Catholics need permission to meet to share their concerns about the direction of the church we love? The very week that the Chancery's grave failings finally come out, they go after us for having an informed discussion? What next? Will the Archbishop be confiscating books by Fr Schüller?

Yes, there is a message of high importance here.

Show your support for the message of Fr. Schüller!
Click here to send a virtual red ribbon.

Red ribbons symbolizing the spirit of Pentecost and calling for inclusion of the laity at every level of leadership and decision-making in the Church will be worn by parishioners and then collected by tour organizers in every city that Fr. Schüller visits. At the end of Fr. Schüller speaking tour, the Catholic Tipping Point coalition will present both physical and virtual red ribbons to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Related Off-site Links:
He's a Priest. He's a Parent. And Nothing's Simple After That – Emily Gurnon (Pioneer Press, July 20, 203).
Our Friend, Father Dan Conlin – Paul and Nancy Barrett (Pioneer Press, July 24, 2013).
Austrian Reform-Minded Priest to Embark on US Tour – Kate Simmons (National Catholic Reporter, July 1, 2013).
Evangelizing the Institutional Church: An Interview with Helmut Schüller – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, July 24, 2013).


  1. All you canon lawyers out there, does the Archbishop have the authority under canon law to censor an electronic transmission on church property of a lecture by a priest in good standing in another diocese of the universal church? Is it true, as the Pioneer Press article suggests, that canon law calls for the laicization of Dan Conlin? When is canon law binding on an Archbishop and when is he free to ignore it?

    All you civil lawyers out there, does the parish real estate belong to the parish corporation or to the Archdiocese? If it belongs to the Archdiocese, is it subject to legal claims against the Archdiocese? If it belongs to the parish corporation, and is thereby shielded from Archdiocesan claimants, is there a problem with parish corporate structure? Are the Archbishop and his appointees in full control of each parish corporation? Do parishioners have any rights to use their parish plant without permission of the Archdiocese?
    Sorry day when freedom is so curtailed and the trust level is so diminished that we have to resort to law.

  2. Thank you, Fr. Tegeder, for once again being the voice of reason in this Archdiocese. It's bold and brave to take this position.

  3. As of 9/25/2013 Dan Conlin was working with the St Paul MN Police dept as a chaplain. He was not wearing a collar, another chaplain came and read last rights.

    1. WHY ???? Does he remain a priest?!?! Maybe the SPPD isn't aware of his misconduct.

  4. It has been confirmed that Fr Dan Conlin as fathered 2 children and possibly 3. The first before he came to St Columba. The 2nd while at St Columba and the 3rd after he left St Columba. The 3rd has not been confirmed but reported to be with a 17 year old!

  5. Please let me rephrase the last comment. It has not been confirmed that Fr Dan Conlin as Fathered 2 children and possibly 3. But this is my understanding. The reporters have not dug deep enough and if all the truth came out it would blow the roof off the Cathedral. I truly wish this was a single mistake by a loving man but I'm afraid there seems to be more to the story. We all make mistakes and we are all sinners. I forgive Father Dan and pray for him. But the question remains. Is Father Daniel Conlin a predator? Lets hope not.

  6. Let's remember that Conlin fathered a child with a married woman with 3 other children. And that he was in a position of authority over this woman since she was a teacher in the school he led. And that he was involved in firing long-time teachers, putting them under a gag order, and taking women off the altar before he managed to completely destroy St. Columba as a school. These are not the acts of a "loving" person.

    1. Dan Conlin is a narcissist. To this day, he believes he did nothing wrong. He has been seen in public ''glad handing'' public officials as this seems to make him feel important and above the law. Why the Vatican hasn't defrocked him is beyond comprehension.