ALBUM 2010








POEMS 1980






     I have observed that many people I know are unsympathetic to the never-ending sex scandals within the Catholic Church.  “It's only Catholics doing bad things to Catholics,” I have been told.  “Any people dumb enough to subject themselves to such a gross cult-like authoritarian structure deserve anything that happens to them!”

     With the case of Father Timothy Backous, however, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, the Saint John's Abbey, and the corporation of ESSENTIA HEALTH have gone outside the confines of the Church.  They have involved the public at large, with potential consequences for Protestants, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Swedenborgians, Buddhists, Atheists, Pagans, whoever.

     ESSENTIA HEALTH, corporation-wide, is a public medical entity.  They actively solicit and encourage ALL of the public to obtain their services.  They engage in a continuous process of advertising and publicity.  As a public combination of hospitals and medical centers, and receiving at least partial funding from public monies, ESSENTIA HEALTH is obliged to follow state and federal rules and regulations on a number of issues.

     Nevertheless, ESSENTIA HEALTH hired Timothy Backous and elevated him to Corporate Vice Presidential status as director of “integrated chaplaincy,” etc., even though he had no credible background, training, or experience with ministry to the sick or the dying — let alone that he should direct or “integrate” others in such capacity.

     Further, as ESSENTIA HEALTH was busy creating a status-position for Mr. Backous, investigators and lawyers with subpoenas in their hands, in Stearns County and in the Twin Cities, were hunting for him.  Indeed, they were hunting for him throughout the winter.  Oblivious of the world around them, the corporation of ESSENTIA HEALTH failed to discover that St. John's Abbey once again had reneged on its promises to parents that Backous among others would never again be placed with or near children.

     Isn't it true that ESSENTIA HEALTH deals with considerable numbers of children and vulnerable adults every day?  Yet, in this very responsibility, ESSENTIA HEALTH broke public trust.  They violated a sense of the common good.  The Board of ESSENTIA HEALTH failed to act with “prudent care” for the corporation or the public good.  (“Prudent Care” is a requirement of the law.)

     At corporate-board level, anyone who sponsored and/or pushed the elevation of Timothy Backous to Corporate Vice Presidential status should resign.  If they refuse, they should be compelled to resign!  Any sense of common good demands it.

     The Diocese of Duluth, for its part, produced a letter of recommendation from the Abbot John Klassen, whose flip-flops and vacillations have become legendary.  Any eight-year old could tell the Diocese was dissembling and passing-the-buck.  Throughout my lifetime any ordinary Catholic approaching the Diocesan Tribunal on a matter of divorce, marriage, re-marriage, baptism, etc., has been required to produce a mountain of documents in support of the case.  But, with Timothy Backous, Bishop Paul Sirba accepted one piece of paper from an unreliable source.  (Hasn't the Bishop been paying attention to news-media in the Twin Cities?  The Abbot's credibility has been challenged before the public continuously now for several years.)

     The Abbot John Klassen now insists that the charges made by the McDermid family were “unsubstantiated.”  If that was the case then why did St. John's Abbey agree to pay, and did pay, for the therapy for the McDermid boy?  Authorities at the Abbey said, “We will pay for the therapy, any therapy he ever needs!”  Why did they say and do this if the charges were “unsubstantiated”?   And why did the Abbey promise the parents that Timothy Backous would not be placed with or near children in the future?

     Mr. John Klassen is totally unbelievable.  Kathy and Chris McDermid, I think, are very believable.  What do YOU think?  Please read and listen to the Minnesota Public Radio interview, and examine the documents at the bottom of the same page, at ...

     In a statement released to news-media on Wednesday, 11 June 2014, Father James Bissonette, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Duluth, described Timothy Backous as a man who has acted “in an exemplary manner and consistent with his vows and responsibilities.”  The Vicar General, like some Ayatollah of the wars in Iraq and Syria, before any investigation or inquiry has been held, announces the judgement.  Thus the integrity, the very humanity, of the victim of sexual assault was maligned and brushed aside.  Though Pope Francis has insisted on a healing ministry to the victims and their families, the Vicar General shrugged with cold indifference and inaction.  The policy of Bishop Sirba and his lieutenants is to shun and ostracize anyone who criticizes or disagrees with them, however mildly.

     The United Nations Committee Against Torture, in a report published on Friday, 23 May 2014, criticized the Catholic Church's failures on child abuse.  The Committee insisted that the Catholic Church should act to ensure that abuse allegations are pursued by independent prosecutors so that there would be “no hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators.”  The Committee also insisted that church officials who fail to respond appropriately to abuse complaints should be subject to “meaningful sanctions.”  Indeed, the Committee Against Torture called for “an independent complaints mechanism.”

     The leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, the Saint John's Abbey, and the corporation of ESSENTIA HEALTH suffer from the disease of “administrative mentality.”  They want Timothy Backous to be able to “save face.”  But, simultaneously, they don't care if the younger Mr. McDermid “saves face.”  What hypocrisy!  What cant!  What double-standards!

     I think the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, the Saint John's Abbey, and the corporation of ESSENTIA HEALTH have not yet realized that there is a new Pope, and that that Pope has called for new policies and new directions.  Indeed, Pope Francis has complained of bishops and others in authority whose “morbid obsessions” have transformed the Church into “nothing but a House of Cards on the verge of collapse.”  Instead, Pope Francis has called for Truth and Reconciliation.  Stop denying it, admit fault, minister to victims, and expel perpetrators from the clergy!

     IN THE MEANTIME, as we wait for deliverance from the reign of the morbid, I suggest that Catholics, and others, of Northeastern Minnesota and elsewhere, stop giving money to these people!  Stop giving money to the Catholic Diocese of Duluth and its parishes!  Stop giving money to St. John's Abbey and its many enterprises!


      Séamas Cain


please go to ...



Demand the resignation or the removal of the
Bishop Paul Sirba and the Abbot John Klassen !!! 

Send your messages of complaint and protest to ...


2830 East Fourth Street,
Duluth, Minnesota, 55812

Phone : +218.724.9111

E-mail :


31802 County Road 159,
Collegeville, Minnesota,
   56321 - 2015

Phone : +320.363.2544

Phone : +320.363.2546

Fax : +320.363.3082

E-mail : <>


His Excellency
The Most Reverend
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò,

The Apostolic Nuncio,

3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W,
Washington, D.C., 20008

Phone : +202.333.7121

Fax : +202.337.4036