‘It’s all about homosexuality’
Problems faced by Minneapolis/St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt have arisen because he dared to criticise Brokeback Mountain, and he’s the victim of a gay vendetta, says Catholic League head Bill Donohue.
Calls for Nienstedt to resign for the the atrocious manner in which his diocese has dealt with sexually abusive priests have come from a variety of sources, ranging from Minnesota Public Radio, from the editorial board of The Star Tribune, and from his own former chancellor for canonical affairs, Jennifer Haselberger.
And, according to The New York Times, he has faced mounting demands for his resignation from laypeople. Furthermore, on Wednesday, the Rev Thomas V Berg, a moral theologian at the seminary of the Archdiocese of New York, tweeted about The Star Tribune piece:
A remarkably thoughtful editorial by secular paper. I must agree: best for the Church that Bp Nienstedt resign.
So far, it seems, the gay community is the only grouping which has steered clear of this mess, even though it has attacked Nienstedt in the past for his vicious homophobia.
That’s not how Donohue sees it. In a press release he issued on Thursday, he said:
It’s all about homosexuality. Ever since Archbishop Nienstedt criticized the pro-gay film, Brokeback Mountain, he has been targeted by homosexual activists all over the nation. So it is hardly surprising to read a story on him in today’s New York Times that cites his take on the movie. Had he liked it, and had he been silent on the subject of gay marriage, no one would be calling for his resignation.
Further proof that homosexuality is the real issue driving the foes of Nienstedt can be found in today’s Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, two newspapers in the Twin Cities. Both asked him yesterday what he does in bed and with whom. He told the former, ‘No, I’m not gay. And I’m not anti-gay’.
When the latter asked if he had had sex with men since becoming archbishop, he said, ‘No. Not even before’.
We have hit a new low when journalists descend to the level of probing puritans. They would put a camera in his bedroom if they could. If these same reporters spent more time trying to out Nienstedt’s anonymous accusers – instead of trying to out his sex life – justice would be served. But that is not their interest, which is why injustice reigns supreme.
The New York Times report said that Nienstedt is refusing to resign, but had acknowledged errors in his diocese’s response to abuse allegations, saying:
It is very clear that we did not handle all complaints the way we should have in the past.
And he revealed that he had only recently removed from ministry several priests accused of abuse.
I have never knowingly covered up clergy sexual abuse. I have, however, been too trusting of our internal process and not as hands-on as I could have been in matters of priest misconduct.
He did not directly address accusations that he himself had had inappropriate sexual relationships with adult men, other than to say that he commissioned an investigation
Because I had nothing to hide and wanted to be vindicated from false allegations, as anyone would.
Barbara Dorris, the outreach director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said in a statement:
He continues to pretend that his deliberately deceptive behavior – over years – is just well-intentioned laxness, when ample evidence shows that’s just not true. He has repeatedly and knowingly protected predators and endangered kids.
And Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse around the country, said the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was facing a problem that was:
Among the most grave we’ve ever encountered. This guy is every bit the center of a serious and longstanding problem.
Writing in a column for the diocesan newspaper, the archbishop said he would not resign because:
I am bound to continue in my office as long as the Holy Father has appointed me here.
He said he would instead work to win back the trust of his parishioners.
He also said he had adopted a new “victims first” philosophy for his diocesan leadership, would hire a new liaison to victims, and would consult with victims for advice.
I am sorry for the distractions I have inadvertently caused that have taken the focus away from the challenging and rewarding work we do as the Catholic Church in our local community. We must continue to address head-on the terrible scandal of clerical sexual abuse.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey