The Maroon

Former Loyola president and professor named in clergy sex abuse list

A+crucifix+hangs+on+a+classroom+wall+in+a+room+in+the+Communication%2FMusic+Complex.+Two+priests+with+ties+to+Loyola+University+New+Orleans+were+named+in+a+list+of+clergymen+that+have+a+history+of+accusations+of+sexual+abuse+of+minor.+Photo+credit%3A+Cristian+Orellana
A crucifix hangs on a classroom wall in a room in the Communication/Music Complex. Two priests with ties to Loyola University New Orleans were named in a list of clergymen that have a history of accusations of sexual abuse of minor. Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

A crucifix hangs on a classroom wall in a room in the Communication/Music Complex. Two priests with ties to Loyola University New Orleans were named in a list of clergymen that have a history of accusations of sexual abuse of minor. Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Cristian Orellana

Cristian Orellana

A crucifix hangs on a classroom wall in a room in the Communication/Music Complex. Two priests with ties to Loyola University New Orleans were named in a list of clergymen that have a history of accusations of sexual abuse of minor. Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Rose Wagner and Andres Fuentes

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Two priests who previously worked for Loyola were among the 57 clergy members who the Archdiocese of New Orleans identified as being taken out of ministry due to accusations of sexual abuse of minors.

The list was released Nov. 2, and included six people identified as Jesuits.

Among the Loyola-related priests was Bernard Knoth, who served as president of Loyola from 1995 to 2003, who resigned amid a sexual abuse complaint regarding an allegation from 1986. The allegation involved a former student at Brebeuf Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana where Knoth served as the principal at the time, according to a 2003 article in The Maroon.

According to the Archdiocese, Knoth was taken out of ministry in 2002. He resigned from his position at Loyola in 2003.

“While I deny any inappropriate conduct, the provincial superior of the Chicago Province has judged the complaint credible according to the U.S. Bishops Norms. Pursuant to those norms, the Chicago provincial superior has removed me from active ministry, necessitating my resignation from the presidency,” Knoth said in his resignation letter on Oct. 7, 2003.

The list also named Benjamin Wren, a former Loyola professor who taught Zen Buddhism classes at the university in the late 1990s. The Archdiocese said they received an allegation of abuse by Wren in 2016 referencing abuse claims from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A 2016 lawsuit against the deceased former professor stated that Wren sexually assaulted a woman, referred to as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, repeatedly beginning in 1978 when she was five years old.

The lawsuit stated that the abuse took place on Loyola’s campus and a settlement was reached between the plaintiff and the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Loyola and the Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province in 2018, according to The Advocate.

In a statement on behalf of Loyola’s Office of Mission & Identity, University Chaplain and the Department of Student Life and Ministry, the university acknowledged that the list released by the Archdiocese has weighed heavily on the Jesuit community.

“We pray for the survivors, their families, and all those who love them. Standing by their side, we join them in their search for strength, healing, and peace. As people of faith, we turn to God to help us in times of darkness. As human beings, we try to comfort one another in the face of the unfathomable. And as a community, we work to rebuild trust and create measures that will prevent such horrific acts from ever happening again,” the university said in a statement on behalf of Loyola’s Office of Mission & Identity, University Chaplain and the Department of Student Life and Ministry.

Concerning the list as a whole, Archbishop Gregory Aymond said that he felt the list was a step forward towards healing within the city.

“I believe it is the right thing to do in order to foster the healing of victims, in a spirit of transparency, and in the pursuit of justice. Jesus reminds us, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32),” he said om his pastoral letter.

A staff of more than 10 people, which also included outside legal staff, reviewed the filed of the 2,432 priests that has served in the Archdiocese since 1950. The list includes 57 clergymen that have been accused of sexual abuse.

“We have done our very best to make this report as accurate and complete as possible. If anyone wishes to raise a question about someone not on the list, I invite you to come forward,” Aymond said. “For our sins of the past, we ask for your forgiveness and the mercy of God. Our sin is public and it calls us as church leaders to repentance in order that our church can experience renewal.”

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About the Photographer
Cristian Orellana, Senior Staff Photographer

Cristian Orellana is the Senior Staff Photographer. He has a passion for photography, alongside a love of fiction and poetry writing. He hopes to one day...

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