Updated: 10/16/2013 3:39 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
Students and faculty at the University of St. Thomas are working to overcome a scandal brought to light this week.
That scandal involves a priest who's a high-profile professor at the University of St. Thomas.
At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday students made their way to the Anderson Center on Campus anxious to hear uplifting words in upsetting times. "It's been really enlightening to see the church go on even with these problems," says Jacob Goodwin, a sophomore at St. Thomas.
Goodwin wears his pride on his chest and in his heart. He's a Catholic Studies student under Father Michael Keating, the professor and priest named in a sexual misconduct lawsuit. "This failure of his doesn't change the love and respect we have for him," he said.
The special closed-door meeting for students and staff follows a mass email from the new president. In it, Julie Sullivan says she learned about the suit from media reports, calling it "shocking and sad."
Sullivan confirmed an inquiry and repeated a zero-tolerance policy of sexual misconduct.
A task force of six is scrutinizing Archdiocese policies involving sex abuse accusations. That's a start, according to St. Thomas Theology Professor Massimo Faggioli. "We have done a very good job so far in creating new institutions quite independent as long as we don't change the culture, these new bodies sometimes are useless, powerless."
Yet Jeff Anderson, who filed the suit on behalf of his client, “Jane Doe 20,” questions the panel's independence knowing the head of it, Father Reginald Whitt lives in the same on-campus building as Father Keating. "They need to send it out to a law enforcement agency with the power to subpoena and a professional independent outside investigation," he said. Anderson says in the absence of that, it's a whitewash.
The University of St. Thomas' campus ministry also invited students and staff to a holy hour to pray for the church and all those affected by this case.