Archbishop Nienstedt Admits … No Wrong in Sexual Abuse Scandals; Pledges to Keep Doing What He Does

Despite being embroiled in two high-profile sex scandals—one over allegations of his own conduct and one over the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdioceses’ mishandling of clerical sex abuse—and calls from both the New York Times and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for a change in leadership in the archdiocese, Archbishop John Nienstedt said on Wednesday he would remain.

Quoting Second Chronicles 20:15, Nienstedt cast himself as the embattled leader fighting an invading force and suggested the charges against him were the result of enemies he had made for his strong stance against same-sex marriage.

In a more than slightly creepy analogy given the rampant pedophilia crisis in the archdiocese and suspicions that the church’s reflective patriarchy makes it blind to the problem until it becomes impossible to ignore, Nienstedt said in his column in the Catholic Spirit that a “bishop’s role is more like that of a father of a family than that of a CEO.” He said he was “bound to continue in my office as long as the Holy Father has appointed me here.”

Despite asserting that he had “acknowledged my responsibility in the current crisis we face,” Nienstedt denied that he had “knowingly covered up clergy sexual abuse” and said that allegedly widespread problems with the disciplining and tracking of abusive priests resulted because he was “too trusting of our internal process and not as hand-on as I could have been in matters of priest misconduct.”

In addition to having been misled by his own fatherly, trusting nature, Nienstedt said the past year had been “difficult” because of the two investigations, numerous messages calling him a “hypocrite” and a “liar,” and the repeated calls for his resignation, which he dismissed as grumbling about his leadership that began when he arrived in the diocese seven years ago.

Saying the “suffering we have endured” is now “bearing fruit,” he pledged a new “Victims First” philosophy and said he had “empowered a new team” of clerical and lay Catholics, including a new victims’ liaison, to assist him, help abuse victims, and implement new protocols to prevent abuse. (It was the archdiocese’s previous victims’ liasion who unleashed the current scandal when she charged that the leadership had been lax in its prevention and accounting of abuse.)

It’s the kind of “apology” that many church officials have become practiced at when dealing with mushrooming sex abuse scandals: admit what they can no longer deny (but no more), deny any actual wrongdoing on the part of those charged with policing priests and abuse, and pledge a “new day” from here on in.

In a statement, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said that Nienstedt

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. He claims he’s not been ‘hands on’ enough. That’s just not true. He’s been plenty ‘hands on,’ but directed in precisely the wrong direction—toward secrecy, not safety.

In his column and in interviews with local papers, Nienstedt also denied the allegations reportedly made in ten sworn statements that he had engaged in homosexual relationships as he made his way up the hierarchical ladder. He told the Star Tribune, “I’m not gay,” but said, “I made a lot of enemies by the stands I’ve taken in Detroit and here. I assume it feeds into that.”

Patricia Miller is the author of Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church. Her work on the intersection of sex, religion, and politics has appeared in The Nation, Ms., and Huffington Post. She was the editor of Conscience magazine and the editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s health care briefings.

  • neil allen

    Archbishop Nienstedt is a pedophile protecting, gay hating, gay bishop, who won’t step down, after brutally defying Jesus in Matt 18:6, and bearing false witness every chance he could.

    In other words, he’s the perfect Catholic bishop, just like all the others, in satan’s Catholic church, lowering the bar of Christianity to indefensible lows.

  • joeyj1220

    You had me until your final sentence. There is no Satan; just very powerful, fallible men grasping to keep hold of the power and not caring who they hurt in the process.

  • neil allen

    Then just consider satan to be a name for organized evil, and that’s what the filthy rich, child raping Catholic church is, using the excuse of “God” to get away with it.

  • cranefly

    “Archbishop John Nienstedt said on Wednesday he would remain.” Why does he get to decide? Was he put there by divine revelation?

    Catholics like to justify top-down patriarchy by telling themselves, “Leaders are servants.” No, they’re not.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    The narcissim of the RCC and its princes is fully on display in this diary entry from another prince who aided and abetted child rapists.

    Nienstadt and Mahoney are perfect examples of the inability to even entertain the idea that one might be a criminal, a pervert, a sinner and/or simply wrong.:

    Narcissus was the beautiful youth in Greek myth doomed to gaze enraptured at his own reflection forever.

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.

    This, from his blog, is the Testimony of Cardinal Mahoney regarding his sin and crime of aiding and abetting the secret rape of hundreds of children in his diocese.

    “Given all of the storms that have surrounded me and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently, God’s grace finally helped me to understand: I am not being called to serve Jesus in humility. Rather, I am being called to something deeper–to be humiliated, disgraced, and rebuffed by many.

    I was not ready for this challenge. Ash Wednesday changed all of that, and I see Lent 2013 as a special time to reflect deeply upon this special call by Jesus.

    To be honest with you, I have not reached the point where I can actually pray for more humiliation. I’m only at the stage of asking for the grace to endure the level of humiliation at the moment.

    In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage–at me, at the Church, about injustices that swirl around us.

    Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.”

    The rape of children in Mahoney’s diocese is all about HIS suffering. The anger of their parents is Mahoney’s apotheosis, a special sign from Jesus.

    Mahoney is the victim. But, like Christ, he will forgive us. I do not know whether to laugh, cry or vomit. God save us from the mad priests.

  • Jim Reed

    Satan is the same as God. They are the collective conscience of the church. Once the group grows large enough, they seem to be real, just as real as anything else that is not real.

  • Jim Reed

    He is the sacrifice for God’s sin of letting the church go too far astray. Jesus saved us, so it is only fair that one of us save Jesus.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Except he has neither been sacrificed nor does he sacrifice anything at all.
    And there is nothing to be saved from.

  • Jim Reed

    Are you talking about one of them or both of them?

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Why make a distinctiion?

  • Jim Reed

    I think we’re on the same page.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Good. You are a smart thoughtful man. I am irony/sarcasm challenged and I sometimes have trouble figuring out when and if you are being ironic/sarcastic.

  • Jim Reed

    It takes a lot of work to keep things like that, but it is always nice when someone notices.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Which begs the question = why would you want to do that? I will not be offended if I get no reply.

  • Jim Reed

    When the discussion is about religion, I believe in keeping it light, and having a sense of humor. If it is quality humor, not everyone will get it. It seems like the higher the level of humor, the fewer the percentage of people who do get it. If the humor gets good enough, nobody will get it except the one who made it up. I suspect there is a level of humor beyond that where even the one making it doesn’t really get it, only God. The holy grail of humor would be the level where even God doesn’t get it. If we never actually reach that level, at least we can enjoy the journey.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Got it. Well said.

  • Jim Reed

    It is a defense mechanism. Not to hide from the issue, but rather to find a way in. What is the most basic question? I don’t think this is about answering that basic question, but just about figuring out what the basic question is. Right now I would have to say the most basic question is why are people so into religion?

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Good question.
    I often wonder if I would care about God at all had my Babcha not taught me about God. I did not give my kids religious instruction beyond some Quaker first day school which qualifies not at all as religious instruction.

  • John Thimakis

    Simply dispicable.

  • Jim Reed

    I think RD is a contradiction. It is about discussion of religion. But religion is beliefs, and religious beliefs can’t be backed up, so they have to be taken on faith, and that means no questions allowed, and with no questions there can be no discussion. We are here to discuss religion, but the nature of religion is to prevent discussion.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    ‘We are here to discuss religion, but the nature of religion is to prevent discussion.’
    ……………..
    Truth. But (isn’t there always a but) there are greater and lesser degrees of dysfunction in religions and the religious. I find this quote below from Martin Buber speaks to this issue for me. Con men do not want folks who see the con to tell anybody else about it.
    And the authoritarian religious cannot bear anyone who questions ‘the rules.’ ‘Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find.’ Bob Altemeyer said that.

    “Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the
    places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one’s evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture?
    In India, I would suppose that the evil would demonstrate a similar tendency to be “good” Hindus or “good” Moslems. I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to
    gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them.”
    - Martin Buber, Good and Evil, pg. 111.

  • http://stillsmallvoices.net Carolyn Hyppolite

    Those who continue to drop their dollars in the collection plate are complicit in the crimes committed against children.

  • Diggitt

    Quaker First Day School prepares kids for the moral/ethical quandaries people face in life. It does not teach fairy tales and dogma. Whether it qualifies as religious instruction, I guess, depends on whether you want religion to teach fairy tales or how to grow into a moral and ethical being.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    I agree. That is why I sent my children to First Day School.