Friday, August 1, 2014

Editorial: It's time Nienstedt resigns for the church

West Central Tribune
August 1, 2014

Archbishop John Nienstedt said Wednesday that he plans to remain as the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

This is unfortunate that Nienstedt is putting his own wishes ahead of the church. It is time that the interest of the Twin Cities archdiocese and the state of Minnesota become paramount for the archbishop.

The best thing is for Nienstedt to end his service to the Twin Cities archdiocese.

Nienstedt has been under fire for months for his handling of clergy sex abuse cases.

"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 wrote in the Catholic Spirit this week.

That statement alone shows Nienstedt's failure of leadership, which has already damaged his credibility with the church and its followers throughout the archdiocese and across Minnesota.

The allegations of a "cavalier attitude" among archdiocese leaders, including Nienstedt, concerning the safety of children resulting in weak investigations and protection of suspected abusers by the church are alarming. There are also media reports of Nienstedt and his predecessors ignoring abuser evidence and concealing the names of priests confirmed of molesting children.

Nienstedt is currently under investigation himself for alleged sexual misconduct with priests, seminarians and other men. Nienstedt has denied any of the misconduct incidents alleged by other seminarians and priests. The investigation and its review has not yet been completed.

The concern about the archdiocese's financial position will only grow worse as the abuse lawsuits increase in number. Nienstedt's continued presence will not benefit these cases or the financial concerns.

The archbishop continues to lose credibility and his continue presence is harming the archdiocese and the state. All of the charges within the church and civil court systems concerning Nienstedt and his leadership will take years to be concluded. As long as he remains in the chancery, there will be lingering doubts about his leadership and the archdiocese's direction.

Those doubts are also impacting the many worthy institutions connected with the church, from schools and colleges to hospitals and care providers for the elderly. Nienstedt's continued presence can put public and donor support at risk for these Catholic-related institutions.

Minnesota Catholics - prominent and every day churchgoers - are increasingly calling for Nienstedt to be replaced. If Nienstedt does not heed those suggestions, then it is time for the Vatican to act and replace him.

It is time for Nienstedt to demonstrate true leadership by doing what is best for the archdiocese and the state. Stepping down as archbishop would reflect a true love for the church and its followers.

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