“Archbishop Nienstedt resigns following archdiocese coverup charges” & related article

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Posted: Jun 15, 2015 8:17 AM EST
Updated: Jun 15, 2015 9:08 AM EST

By The Associated Press

Archbishop John Nienstedt

Archbishop John Nienstedt

Archbishop John Nienstedt says he’s leaving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis “with a clear conscience.”

The Vatican said Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche. The archdiocese was recently charged with ignoring repeated reports of inappropriate behavior by a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

Nienstedt said in a statement Monday that his leadership has drawn attention away from the good works of the church. He asks for prayers for his successor.

In a separate statement, Bishop Piche says he is stepping down because his continued service prevents healing and hope for the people he has served.

Rev. Bernard Hebda, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, has been named temporary administrator of the archdiocese.


US Archbishop Quits After Archdiocese Charged With Cover-Up

 Associated Press

The embattled archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and a deputy bishop resigned Monday after prosecutors there charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect children from unspeakable harm from a pedophile priest.

The Vatican said Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche. They resigned under the code of canon law that allows bishops to resign before they retire because of illness or some other “grave” reason that makes them unfit for office.

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a corporation of having “turned a blind eye” to repeated reports of inappropriate behavior by a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys. No individual was named in the complaint.

The resignations came on the same day that the Vatican announced it was putting its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, on trial in a Vatican court on charges he sexually abused boys in the Caribbean country and possessed child pornography. Wesolowski, who has already been defrocked after being convicted in a canon law court, now faces possible jail time if convicted by the criminal tribunal of the Vatican City State.

The charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis came after a diocesan canon lawyer-turned-whistleblower alleged widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the archdiocese, saying archbishops and their top staff lied to the public and ignored the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.

In a statement, Nienstedt said he was stepping down to give the archdiocese a new beginning. But he insisted he was leaving “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.”

He had refused to resign as recently as last year after his former archivist, canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger, charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment.

She said she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of keeping priests accused of abuse in ministry, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct, and later resigned.

In a statement, Piche said: “The people of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis need healing and hope. I was getting in the way of that, and so I had to resign.”

The criminal charges against the archdiocese stem from its handling of Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for molesting two boys and faces prosecution involving a third boy in Wisconsin.

Prosecutors say church leaders failed to respond to “numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct” by Wehmeyer from the time he entered seminary until he was removed from the priesthood in 2015. The criminal complaint says many people — including parishioners, fellow priests and parish staff — reported issues with Wehmeyer, and many of those claims were discounted.

3 Responses to “Archbishop Nienstedt resigns following archdiocese coverup charges” & related article

  1. Sylvia says:

    The headlines focus on the resignation of Archbishop Nienstedt, but actually it is bother the Archbishop AND an auxiliary bishop with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who have resigned. All this, it seems, in the wake of the recent criminal charges laid against the Archdiocese (yes, the ones which I don’t quite understand in that it is the institution which is charges, not individuals)

    Anyway, two resignations.

    Is this more of doing the right thing kicking and screaming all the way? Time will tell.

    And news that the now defrocked former Nuncio to the Dominican Republic Jozef Wesolowski will stand trial in the Vatican.

    I wonder will the trial be in open court? I honestly have no idea how a criminal trial will be conducted in the Vatican. This is all very new.

  2. Mike Mc says:

    Well it’s about time a Cardinal/Archbishop/Bishop take the blame for ” failing to protect children from unspeakable harm from a pedophile priest.”
    Can you imagine concealing a pedophile priest only to have this priest sexually abuse again??? Shame on them.

    It’s time for all Cardinals and Bishops to resign if they are in “any way guilty” of ignoring or pushing along any abusive priest under their watch.

    From Monsignor Lynn in Philadelphia to Cardinal Pell in Australia and everyone in between, they should be held responsible for their unacceptable “saving Mother Church” attitudes. As you may remember, “Lynn was the first official to be convicted in the United States of covering up abuses by other priests in his charge. Other senior church officials have been extensively criticized for their management of the issue in the archdiocese.”

    It’s time to sweep clean the Church, and instead of big lawyer bills covering up these Bishops’ actions, it’s time the money was spent on helping and healing the victims.

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