Former pastor, music director at St. Henry’s offers response to story

To the editor:

In response to a June 26 Monticello Times article, here are some of my thoughts regarding Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and its report.

In its Dec. 19, 2013, report MPR led with a statement that I had a secret.

I made no secret that I was disgusted by the false accusation brought against me in 1994 by a woman in Detroit or that I was angered by the Catholic Church settling it without consulting me and without my consent.

It is easy to verify that I was not even in the same country or continent as my accuser when she was 15.

As for the other allegation, I did not know about it until 2011.

I was neither informed nor interviewed by the Archdiocese when a man came to the Chancery in 1996 and made accusations against me.

His account was garbled and contradictory and when he was offered the opportunity to meet and confront me, he left and never returned.

I wish the police had been informed and had investigated both of these matters.

MPR should not have stated that the Archdiocese determined “Walsh was having an affair with a married parishioner” because it simply is not true, not true that I had an affair and not true that the Archdiocese determined that I had.

Years later the Archdiocese became concerned about the “appearance of scandal” because, following a divorce and foreclosure that left my friend homeless, I offered her shelter and safety in my home.

Our relationship is one of long-term mutual support and friendship and is devoid of scandal.
MPR linked my decision to seek laicization and to resign as music director to abuse allegations.

That is false. I sought laicization in August 2010 because the Archbishop ordered me to do so.

I received letters and ultimatums from the Archbishop about his concern over “the appearance of scandal in my living arrangements.”

Not once, during this period, did the Archbishop refer to any allegations of abuse. I decided to request laicization in August 2010 and entrusted the Archbishop to send my request to the Vatican.

In October 2011, to my shock, I received a letter ordering me to resign from St. Henry’s because the Archdiocese was pursuing a case to forcibly remove me from the priesthood for lack of cooperation and, for the first time, referencing those accusations.

Furthermore, they told me to sign a release that would prevent me from speaking out.

I did not sign; I did not take their money.

Instead, I reluctantly left St. Henry’s and sent my request for laicization directly to the Vatican. It was granted.

The MPR report sent me reeling with shock and grief at its injustice.

Then, people whose lives I had impacted over many decades to the present day started calling, e-mailing, and writing with support words and feelings shared in life that wouldn’t have been spoken until my funeral. They have uplifted me.

I am a lucky man.

Harry Walsh