Catholic Church moves dodgy Archbishop to fresh pastures
A Catholic Archbishop forced to resign after a major sex abuse scandal is now whining that people who object to his homophobia are out to wreck his reputation.
John Clayton Nienstedt, above, served as the Archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis for seven years but resigned last June, shortly after a prosecutor announced criminal charges and a civil suit against the archdiocese for allegedly covering up child sex abuse.
A separate archdiocese investigation into Nienstedt focused on his alleged sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other men.
Nienstedt called those allegations false, and:
A personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage.
Nienstedt, according to this report, is in the midst of a fresh controversy, having moved to a new church in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Residents there are reportedly less than pleased that a priest accused of covering up a sex-abuse scandal has now embraced a second calling as a pastor in their town. He is “filling in” for a sick old friend at St Philip’s Roman Catholic Church.
A spokesperson for the Kalamazoo diocese told local papers that the arrangement between the archbishop and Father John Fleckenstein, who is ill, is just a simple agreement between friends. But detractors worry that the archbishop’s controversial past is getting a free pass.
Jennifer Haselberger served as Chancellor for Canonical Affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. She was also the person who revealed how the archdiocese allegedly hid sex-abuse allegations.
Haselberger finds it plausible that Nienstedt and Fleckenstein didn’t expect the blowback in Battle Creek.
[Nienstedt] doesn’t always have the most full perspective on things. I can totally see this priest and this archbishop thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’.
He clearly doesn’t see himself in the same light as the majority of us do.
Attorneys who represent alleged victims of priest sex abuse see this as yet another example of dodgy Catholic priests being moved to pastures new.
Attorney Jeff Anderson said:
For him to be ordered to another parish is the same sad story that’s been playing out for 30 years. It’s something they claim to have turned the page on, but time and time again they’re repeating the same pattern.
Patrick Wall, a priest and monk-turned-lawyer added:
The entire nation’s Roman Catholic child sexual abuse scandal just moved to Battle Creek.
Charges filed by prosecutors allege that while Nienstadt was archbishop, the archdiocese ignored repeated abuse complaints against a priest who was convicted of molesting two boys.
The former priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, was sentenced to five years for the abuse, but prosecutors said the archdiocese didn’t act on:
Numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct.
Nienstedt also misrepresented his handling of other cases where priests were accused of sexual impropriety, according to prosecutors.
Though he had testified that he was unaware that Kenneth LaVan, a priest accused of assaulting a teenage girl, was still in the ministry, documents later showed he had received consistent updates on LaVan’s position and, and even spent time with him socially as friends.
Nienstedt complained in his letter of resignation:
My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of His Church and those who perform them. I leave with a clear conscience knowing that my team and I have put in place solid protocols to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.
But Nienstedt himself also faced allegations of child abuse and sexual misconduct. A boy accused Nienstedt of touching his buttocks during a confirmation ceremony at the Cathedral of St Paul in 2009.
The mother later reported the alleged incident to another priest, who alerted police and the archdiocese in 2013. Police declined to pursue charges against Nienstedt, and the archbishop affirmed his commitment to providing:
Safe environments for all children and youth.
When pressure was put on Nienstedt to resign last year, Catholic League head Bill Donohue alleged that:
Ever since Archbishop Nienstedt criticized the pro-gay film, Brokeback Mountain, he has been targeted by homosexual activists all over the nation.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes