Please, prayerfully follow this serious matter with the sober evaluation it requires,looking only to reliable sources. Do not be dragged into any effort to jump to any conclusions. Rather, pray for the young man who has made this allegation against the Archbishop. Pray for the Archbishop. Pray for the Church. Pray for our Nation. Now, I conclude with my personal opinion. I believe that this good Archbishop will be completely exonerated. I also believe that his behavior in voluntarily stepping out of public ministry and fully cooperating in this process simply confirm the mettle of this man.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Like millions of other people, I received the recent news with shock and disbelief, Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis voluntarily stepped aside from public ministry while an investigation unfolds concerning an allegation made against him. The Archdiocese issued this statement
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis today announced that an allegation has been brought by a mandated reporter within the Church to the St. Paul Police of inappropriate touching of a minor male on the buttocks by Archbishop John Nienstedt. The single incident is alleged to have occurred in 2009 during a group photography session with the archbishop following a confirmation ceremony. Archbishop Nienstedt emphatically denies the allegation. Upon learning of the allegation last week, the archdiocese instructed the mandated reporter to make the matter known to the police. The archbishop and the archdiocese stand ready to cooperate fully with the St. Paul Police.
After consultation with the Holy Father's ambassador to the United States (the papal nuncio), the archbishop will voluntarily step aside from all public ministry while this matter is being investigated, effective immediately. Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché, in his role as a vicar general, will cover all of the archbishop's public duties during this time. Father Charles Lachowitzer continues in his position as a vicar general and moderator of the curia.
The archdiocese is mindful of the due process concerns of those involved. There must be justice and due consideration of the rights and dignity of every human person, both the individual involved and the archbishop. This is not only the bedrock of our beliefs as Catholics, but also of the justice system of our country.
The steps taken in response to the allegation against the archbishop demonstrate and reaffirm the archdiocese's commitment to disclosure. These steps further confirm that all within the archdiocese will be subject to the internal policies we have established. This is the position of the archdiocese and the archbishop himself. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the individual involved and the archbishop as justice is pursued and all may move forward on a path toward healing.
The first priority of the archdiocese is to create and maintain safe environments where the Gospel of Jesus Christ can flourish. This starts with creating an environment for and implementing productive steps to promote a healthy clergy. It also means ensuring that clergy, employees, volunteers, and the young are aware of healthy boundaries and the societal problem of sexual abuse.
The Archbishop completely and thoroughly denied the allegation as absolutely and entirely false.
He released the following letter which is also available on the Diocese website:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This is a difficult letter for me to write to you. This past weekend I learned of an allegation from a young man whom I anointed in the Sacrament of Confirmation who alleged that he believes I inappropriately touched his buttocks during a public photo session following the ceremony.
Please allow me to say that I normally stand for those photos with one hand on my crozier (staff) and the other either on the right shoulder of the newly confirmed or on my pallium (the short stole), which hangs from my chest. I do that deliberately and there are hundreds of photographs to verify that fact.
I do not know the individual involved; he has not been made known to me. I presume he is sincere in believing what he claims, but I must say that this allegation is absolutely and entirely false. I have never once engaged in any inappropriate contact with a minor and I have tried to the very best of my ability to serve this Archdiocese and the church faithfully, with honor and due regard for the rights of all, even those with whom I disagree.
I have taken strong stands on the moral teachings of the Church and been criticized for it. I would not have done so if I did not believe those teachings and was personally bound to living up to them in practice.
True, I am a sinner, but my sins do not include any kind of abuse of minors. I have met victims and I know the lasting damage that such abuse causes.
The psalms from the Liturgy of the Hours have had a special echo in my heart these past weeks as I pray for those in distress. "But God does hear the cries of the poor. Blessed be the Lord."
I hope that the investigations can be thorough but quick. I already long to be back in public ministry-to be able to serve as the Lord has called me to serve.
I regret this will be my last column until the present investigations are complete. These days will give me the time to pray for you and the individual involved. I ask that you pray for me too.
With every good wish, I remain
Cordially Yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Readers of Catholic Online know of my deep admiration for Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. I have written numerous articles over the last few years concerning his courageous defense of marriage - and the family and society founded upon it. He is a man of deep and profound Catholic Christian faith, humility and courage.
He has shown his courage in properly exposing and opposing the social corruption unleashed by sexual immorality, in all of its manifestations. He has faced intense opposition for his prophetic stands on issues which are now considered 'controversial' in some circles - such as defending the normative nature of two parent, opposite sex, heterosexual marriage. As a result, he has been pilloried in much of the media which has decided to be used by propagandists of a new Cuktural Revolution in the West.
In his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Charity, Pope Emeritus Benedict summarized the duty of Bishops, other Clergy and all of the faithful when confronted with the current cultural assault on authentic marriage: "Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself."
In 2012, Archbishop Nienstedt was pilloried for his heroic effort to stem the assault on marriage in his own home State. This past summer, following a brilliant talk he gave at the NAP Institute entitled Family as the Foundation of Culture at the NAPA Institute Conference for Catholic Leaders, he faced an unrelenting assault in the Media.
The Archbishop gave a talk which clearly presented the teaching of the Catholic Church, as rooted in the Natural Moral Law. It was well researched and footnoted, in its written form. This was not an extemporaneous speech or some kind of rant as so many of the press reports tried to depict it. It can be read in its entirety and downloaded here.
The assault on the Archbishop by some in the media was brutal. They attempted to depict him as some kind of fringe demagogue. To the contrary, Archbishop Nienstedt offered a well reasoned defense of marriage, a blueprint which I maintain should be taken up and used on many fronts in our effort to defend marriage. You can view the entire presentation here.
In a part his address dealing with what he called the "two views of marriage", he made the following observation:
If indeed marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the cornerstone of society, then it is essential to the progress of any civilization that the consequences of choosing between a conjugal view or a revisionist view of marriage be weighed carefully and thoughtfully, especially in regard to the other negative forces that are impinging on the social reality of family life.
Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life. Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization. The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God's work on earth.
Archbishop John Nienstedt has been heroic in his defense of marriage and the family. He also understands his vocation as a teacher. I will not underestimate the fury of hell which may have been unleashed by his courageous defense of the truth.
I also wrote about him back in 2010, when along with his brother Bishops in Minnesota, he engaged in a six week catechetical campaign to do all that he could to ensure that the faithful understood the truth about marriage and the family and society founded upon it.
A DVD entitled Preserving Marriage in Minnesota was sent to all Catholics to help them properly inform their conscience and engage in political participation based upon the truth concerning Marriage as revealed in the Natural Law, confirmed by Revelation and consistently taught by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It was well done. It also caused an uproar among those who openly oppose the truth about marriage and hold a hostile view of the Church.
Please, prayerfully follow this serious matter with the sober evaluation it requires,looking only to reliable sources. Do not be dragged into any effort to jump to any conclusions.
Rather, pray for the young man who has made this allegation against the Archbishop. Pray for the Archbishop. Pray for the Church. Pray for our Nation.
Now, I conclude with my personal opinion. I believe that this good Archbishop will be completely exonerated. I also believe that his behavior in voluntarily stepping out of public ministry and fully cooperating in this process simply confirm the mettle of this man.
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