I’ll be honest with you: As good and thorough as the MPR News investigation was into clergy abuse at the now-bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the cover-up therein, I never thought Archbishop John Nienstedt would fall. The church has been too determined not to be taken down for its misdeeds.
That, of course, changed today when Nienstedt resigned, we suspect under pressure from a pope who has shown determination to address the scandals in his church.
“The Catholic Church is not our Church, but Christ’s Church, and we are merely stewards for a time,” Nienstedt said. “My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of His Church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down.”
The resignation comes just a few days after Pope Francis issued new standards of accountability for bishops.
Says the Catholic Reporter…
The first of the five points states that there is a “duty” to report “allegations of the abuse of office by a bishop connected to the abuse of minors” to the Vatican, specifically the three congregations which oversee bishops: the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
The guidelines had no credibility as long as Nienstedt, whose archdiocese was charged with failing to protect children from pedophile priests, stayed.
Three days ago, former assistant U.S. attorney Hank Shea called for Nienstedt to resign in an open letter to the archbishop.
First, it will help stop the bleeding. The entire archdiocese has been suffering spiritual death caused by a thousand cuts due to a failure of leadership. Although the wrongdoing did not begin with you, it continued under your watch and you remained willfully blind to it.
“I leave 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,” Nienstedt said in his announcement.
The comments section below is open for your thoughtful discussion. For Catholics in particular, does the resignation make a difference in how your view the church?