Twin Cities (Minnesota) Archbishop John Nienstedt (below) spent years arguing against LGBT rights. In 2007, he wrote that “those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts… formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin.” He condemned Brokeback Mountain when it came out. And he spent $650,000 of the Church’s money trying to convince Minnesota voters to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage — an amendment that ultimately failed.
It’s hardly surprisingly, then, to learn that Nienstedt was under investigation for having sex with other priests. More importantly, he retaliated against anyone who didn’t respond in kind or questioned what he was doing. He denies all of these allegations, of course.
But it gets worse. One of the men promoted by Nienstedt to become a pastor, Curtis Wehmeyer, ended up molesting kids while in that role. It was discovered that Nienstedt knew about Wehmeyer’s criminal history when he promoted him to that position.
It’s just astonishing how any of this could have happened. And we haven’t scraped the bottom of the barrel yet, since Nienstedt’s “archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law” Jennifer Haselberger is finally speaking out against the cover-ups that took place while she was there:
Haselberger said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry. She said she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct. She resigned last year.
Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said in a statement that Haselberger’s “recollections are not always shared by others within the archdiocese.” He said the archdiocese was taking steps toward “greater transparency and accountability.”
Well, that’s convenient. The recollections may not be shared, but the Church is known for just dismissing things that make it look bad. They love sweeping naughty/molest-y clergy members under the rug.
You can read Haselberger’s full affidavit here. It’s more than 100 pages of information the Church doesn’t want you to hear. Haselberger deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on this information. It’s an incredibly courageous move, given the size and influence of the institution she’s up against.
If any of this bothers you — as it very well should — then remember this: The cycle isn’t going to end unless people who belong to the Church stop attending, stop enrolling their children in Catholic schools, and stop giving the Church money. Church leaders can afford to ignore these problems because they know they have anxious sheep awaiting their return. Until those followers stop enabling the priests to do as they please, legal or not, it won’t stop.
(Portions of this article were posted earlier)