Recently, Abp Nienstedt has been in the hot seat over the sadly all-to-familiar accusations that he "overlooked" child abusing priests when he became Archbishop. Apparently he was too busy attacking gay families to pay attention. This ability to "overlook" is sadly familiar. And stonewalling appears to be a problem:
... the chief [of police] took exception to the archdiocese’s repeated assertions that it has been cooperating fully with police in those investigations. Smith said his investigators have been denied access to certain clergy members.
“We have, through written and verbal request, made clear our desire to speak to individuals connected with the archdiocese, and we’ve been told, ‘No,’ ” Smith said.They might want to be careful. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was actually charged in civil court, and convicted, of neglecting to report child abuse.
Yesterday, it came out that Abp Nienstedt has himself been accused of "inappropriate touching" of a young man. The single accusation comes from an occasion of a group photograph of confirmandi. It may be spurious, it may be real. The Archbishop calls the accusation entirely false. An investigation is underway.
Now, I will credit the Archbishop with one thing. He did exactly what he should do yesterday: he stepped aside, at least temporarily, so this accusation could be investigated thoroughly.
Contrast this with the situation in Kansas City . Despite an actual civil conviction, Bp Finn continues to serve. Many commentators feel that if Pope Francis is serious about changing the culture of coverup, at the very least, Bp Finn should go.
As for Abp Neinstedt, time will tell. If he is cleared of the current charges, can he continue as an effective leader? Already, calls are coming for him to resign.
There is no way that Nienstedt can turn this situation around, as his faux apology, far more than these charges announced yesterday, reveals. The good of the Church, not just in St. Paul but in the entire country, requires he relinquish his office and give a new man a new start at righting the situation. That may be unfair. It is certainly unfortunate. But it is also, now, unavoidable.Update: And meanwhile, Michael S Winters at the National Catholic Reporter, tells us this:
Nienstedt has demonstrated before that on issues related to human sexuality, something is not quite right. In 2006, while serving as the Bishop of New Ulm, Nienstedt wrote a column in his diocesan newspaper urging his flock not to attend the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” Nienstedt wrote of the movie, “The story is about two lonely cowboys herding sheep up on a mountain range. One night after a drinking binge, one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex.” I must say that I never in all my years expected to read the phrase “wanton anal sex” in my diocesan newspaper. In my experience, diocesan newspapers tend to be read by an older, largely female, demographic. Did they really need to read that phrase? Why did he feel the need to include it?Oh, my eyes....