Top US priest accused of sexual misconduct
CATHOLIC Archbishop John Nienstedt has the reputation of being one of America’s most outspoken opponents of gays and same sex marriage.
According to this report, late in 2007 he declared:
Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts … formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin.
That echoed a column he wrote the year before – while bishop of New Ulm – cautioning Catholics against watching Brokeback Mountain, a film about two married cowboys who fall for one another. He wondered whether Hollywood knew just how dangerous their “agenda” was:
Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive.
Now Archbishop Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis is being investigated by his own diocese is for sexual misconduct with other men, including priests and seminarians, having received ten signed and sworn letters of accusation.
Nienstedt has a long and dark history of not only opposing marriage equality, but of actively investing a reported $650,000 of the Roman Catholic Church’s funds to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.
The 67-year old also went as far as to spam 400,000 Minnesota homes with unrequested anti-gay DVDs in a failed attempt to get voters to ban same-sex marriage. Not only did his efforts fail, but lawmakers actually later ushered in marriage equality.
Undeterred, last year Nienstedt claimed that “Satan” is “the source” of same-sex marriage. He also told the mother of a gay man she could go to hell if she did not embrace the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.
Nienstedt denies the allegations, claiming:
I have never engaged in sexual misconduct and certainly have not made any sexual advances toward anyone.
He also artfully spun the charges in a statement, according to the Atlantic Wire.
The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior.
The Commonweal Magazine offers some background on Nienstedt.
Nienstedt was named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1996, and became bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota, in 2001. Just six years later he was appointed coadjutor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He was installed as archbishop in 2008. Before long, Nienstedt had established one of the signature issues of his episcopate: homosexuality. His statements on that issue add controversy to the investigation of his own behavior.
In 2009, Nienstedt temporarily stepped down from his post after being caused of inappropriate contact with a young boy in 2009. He was not charged in the case.
Nienstedt’s statement on the allegations ends with this sentence:
Let us pray that the truth will come out as a result of the investigation.
The Nienstedt investigation bears an uncanny resemblance to one that took place in the UK, where an investigation was conducted into the “inappropriate sexual behaviour” of Scottish Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O’Brien. It ended with him having to resign in 2013.
O’Brien’s homophobia earned him a Bigot of the Year award in 2012.
Stonewall, the organisation that bestowed that award, came in for considerable flak from the Church and politicians but was unrepentant, saying its 10,000 members had voted “decisively” to give the title to O’Brien after he described gay marriage as a “grotesque subversion” of the traditions of marriage and likened it to slavery. The cardinal called it an “aberration” and claimed it might clear the way for polygamous marriages and would cause:
Further degeneration of society into immorality.