Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt steps aside while `inappropriate contact’ investigated

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John Nienstedt is the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

John Nienstedt is the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

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(RNS) Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has come under fire for failing to take action against priests suspected of sexual abuse, announced Tuesday that he is stepping aside while police investigate an accusation that he inappropriately touched a boy on the buttocks during a group photo after a 2009 confirmation ceremony.

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  • SNAP to Catholics: “Don’t Donate until Fr. McDonough is defrocked”
    For immediate release: Wednesday December 18, 2013

    Statement by Bob Schwiderski, SNAP Minnesota director (952 471 3422, skibrs@q.com)

    Enough is enough. Catholic officials should start defrocking Fr. Kevin McDonough. And Catholic parishioners should donate elsewhere until this happens.

    Fr. McDonough knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover ups than anyone else in the archdiocese. His name and fingerprints are on many church records about concealing known and suspected crimes.

    But the final straw came late yesterday when St. Paul’s police chief named Fr. McDonough as one of the archdiocesan clerics who refuse to be questioned by police.



    By this decision, Fr. McDonough has lost any shred of or claim to any moral authority he may have once had.

    And by tolerating this, Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piche – and every other chancery office staffer – are also besmirching themselves and the church they purport to love.

    It’s absurd for them to claim that they “cannot speak for Fr. McDonough and his choice not to speak with the police.”


    Fr. McDonough isn’t some renegade. He’s long been a key “inside player” in the archdiocesan headquarters.

    And the church isn’t a loosely-knit hippie commune. It’s a rigid hierarchy in which priests promise lifelong obedience to their archbishop. So why isn’t Archbishop Nienstedt ordering Fr. McDonough to sit down with the police?

    Finally, last night, archdiocesan officials issued yet another statement professing that it “wants to cooperate” with authorities. That’s obviously baloney.

    If you want to cooperate, you do so. You don’t wait for a formal letter or request or public criticism from your town’s highest ranking police officer.

    They also claim that they hope to “better understand the (police department’s) requests for information in greater detail.” That’s baloney too.

    If you don’t understand a request, you ask for clarity. You don’t delay and pretend you’re confused.

    Catholic officials are well-educated. They hire legions of well-educated lawyers. And police are not known for being vague about what they want. So this implication – that somehow this is just a lack of clarity – is yet another blatant public relations maneuver.

    Until the Catholic hierarchy – in St. Paul or elsewhere – start defrocking Fr. McDonough, we beg church members to stop donating to Catholic institutions and donate instead to other agencies and churches. It is simply wrong to ignore this kind of blatant wrongdoing by Catholic officials and merrily go about our business as if nothing is dramatically wrong.

    We especially appeal to those who attend parishes where Fr. McDonough has worked to do so. And we urge religious leaders in other denominations to denounce Fr. McDonough and his supervisors and to distance themselves from this corrupt bunch. By doing so, these religious figures may deter similar selfish and secretive and irresponsible behavior in the future.

    It matters less to us who starts the defrocking process – whether it’s the archbishop or his auxiliary bishop or some other church official. It matters most to us that someone in the Catholic hierarchy show a bit of spine and move to defrock – or at least discipline and demote – this corrupt cleric.

    Contact – David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com) Bob Schwiderski, SNAP Minnesota director (952 471 3422, skibrs@q.com)

  • Deb Geelsdottir

    I live in MN and I am outraged at the behavior of Neinstadt and his cronies! They clearly believe they are above civil MN and USA law. Arrests need to be made for obstructing justice. The more Neinstadt delays, the more time there is to cover up. He needs to hand over the keys and tell the St. Paul police the door is wide open. Then get out of the way.

    Next they’ll be sending people like McDonough to the Vatican for some reason that won’t past the smell test. Just like the rest of Neinstadt’s operation.

    What bone-deep shame the Neinstadt gang ought to be feeling.

  • Michael Gengle

    How self righteous we all are. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!

  • Larry

    How about handcuffs instead. Stonewalling a criminal investigation is a criminal act. Nobody is above judgment of the law.

  • Earold Gunter

    How about let the fathers of the raped little boys swing the first, and last bats?

  • Duane Lamers

    Ah, Earold, we agree!

    It is one thing, however, to go after the first line of criminality, the perp. It’s quite another to fix blame at the top.

  • Mark A. Reiff

    Having moved back to Minnesota only recently, it is obvious the Archbishop is under assault and being slandered but the radical homosexual lobby in the
    Twin Citiestand the local brain dead liberal media the local media and its agenda of undermining the Chruch and its moral authority. The allegation,which, in my opinion is absolutely false, is part of the vendetta against the church by a media and a culture he has dared to challenge. He is being crucified for speaking truth to modern cultural ignorance. In bearing his cross he is in good company. Culturally captive Catholics are the real scandal in the Catholic Church today because they will stoop to lie and any slander to get their way and sell out to the faith to accommodate our debased culture.

  • Duane Lamers

    Mr. Reiff, perhaps you are correct based on the reasons you’ve given. It is good, though, that the archbishop (he was once a Detroit auxliary) is allowing the course of justice to run unimpeded. The end result might well be his exoneration–which will not receive a word of menton among the gaggles you cite.

    It is amazing, too, the numbers of people who are merely looking for deep pockets to set them up for material success that thus far has eluded them or to pay off debt incurred in mismanaging their own lives. The plaintiff’s “privacy,”
    always, is more important than any damage done to the defendant.

    I don’t see it happening, but I would want the diocese to go after the “plaintiff” for damages, including costs, if the charges prove groundless.

  • Alexy

    …and so it begins again… another diocese about to explode in the mire of sexual scandals, cover-ups, negligence, etc … Having spent 13 years visiting parishes in the St.Paul diocese, I can tell you first handed that the clergy is full of homosexuals (more than 50% either are or tolerate it contrary to Catholic doctrine). I am not surprised that this lobby of boys is behind the corruption that Nienstedt, clearly, did not know how to manage/deal-with/clean-up. If Nienstedt is guilty of anything is of being afraid, not trusting in Divine help, looking the other way while he ‘fixes’ or figures out how to ‘fix’ the extensive problem plaguing his diocese. You’d think that after the Boston scandal, Nienstedt would have hammered these ‘boyz’ or at least expose them to cover his proverbial ‘behind’, but so it seems that the paralysis cause by the fear of being called a ‘bigot’, ‘homophobe’, etc. is greater than his zeal for his own ‘faith’… hey how many of us is afraid to preach what we believe because of the GLBT mob name calling?

    I sincerely do not envy his position. I know that any bishop with more than half of his clergy being homosexuals, in a country that is quick to label, demonize, flog, condemn and execute one in the public scene, can only be carried by one capable of Martyrdom… which is a supernatural grace… clearly Nienstedt is not receiving such grace and this should not be held against him. No one should cast the first stone unless he is prepared to be part of a solution that extends to a sexually derranged culture.