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On December 4th at 4:00pm there will be a listening session held at the Church of the Holy Spirit concerning the past conduct of Michael W.Weber. The announcement came from Rev. Thomas Knoblach:

The statement read Saturday night after Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit, by the Rev. Thomas Knoblach:“We do have one additional, difficult announcement. There has been an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a former deacon, Deacon Michael Willard Weber. Because of the allegation, Bishop (John) Kinney has asked the Diocesan Response Team to hold a listening session for the people of Holy Spirit parish, in which Deacon Michael Weber served.
There will be a listening session at the Church of the Holy Spirit on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m. Michael Weber served as a deacon at the Church of the Holy Spirit for four to five months, from 1969 to 1970.

The St Cloud Times covered the story on Sunday and did quite the job of going over all of the accomplishments of Weber, with very little of the story covering why there was going to be a listening session or even what a listening session is.

– Update Weber has now resigned from his position with the board of directors at the Greater Twin Cities United Way.

The list of accomplishments are all worth reviewing because if there were issues, then each of these organizations should be on alert as to what may have taken place with them. The list includes:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer of Volunteers of America – Minnesota
  • Associate Director and acting Executive Director of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse
  • Director; Hennepin County Community Services Department
  • Co-chairman; Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging
  • Director of the Program for the Community Protection of Children, a program of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
  • Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
  • President of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators
  • Chairperson of the Intensive Family Preservation Services National Network
  • National advisory committee of the Children’s Division of the American Human Association
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators
  • Member of the national advisory board of the Intensive Family Preservation Services National Network

The issue the listening session will be looking at is from 1969 to 1970 when he served 4-5 months as a deacon at the Church of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of listening sessions is described as an opportunity to dialog and listen to the members of the church concerning central issues that affect the real people of the church. The Progressive Catholic Voice identified the reasons as:

These dialogs were informed by three fundamental tenets drawn from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Vatican II).

• As baptized Catholics, all the faithful share in the ministry of Jesus, the Christ;

• Because all of us are the Church, the common sense of faithful Catholics (sensus fidelium) is a legitimate agent of the Holy Spirit and serves to inform Church practice and teaching, in tandem with Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium;

• As adult Catholics, we are called to nurture an informed conscience that is the final arbiter of our actions.

The keys seems to be willing listeners and people who feel safe to express what they need to say. It will depend a lot upon what needs to be said and if fear or silence will win out over the truth coming out. indicates that criminal charges have recently been brought and that there were discussions about Weber at St Johns in 2009.

(Update 2): The St Cloud Times has reported that the Benton County Sheriff has confirmed that there has been :

an accusation that he fondled a boy he met when Weber was a “big brother” to the boy in St. Cloud in the late 1960s.

and that the St Cloud Police received information when a :

Caller told police that two people had reported being sexually assaulted about 40 years ago by “a person of prominent social status in the area.” The report goes on to refer to the alleged suspect as “president and CEO of an organization where the party is believed to have contact with minor children.”

Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.

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