MI--Controversial archbishop denies all wrongdoing; Victims respond
For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP outreach director (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
“I’m being picked on because of the evil news media’s and gay marriage supporters.” That’s what the just-moved ex-head of the Twin Cities Catholic archdiocese told his new Michigan flock last Sunday.
Shame on Archbishop John Nienstedt. We hope his ducking and dodging will persuade prosecutors to cut him and his complicit church colleagues no slack and those with knowledge of and suspicions about his own sexual misconduct to step forward.
In the Twin Cities, some 400 child sex abuse victims have come forward in recent years. Some 66 clerics are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters. The archdiocese faces pending criminal charges for refusing to report suspicions of child sex crimes to police.
But no matter. Nienstedt’s to blame for none of this. It’s tragic, and telling, that even now he can’t find the humility to admit, or even pretend to admit, a single lie, deceit, misstep or irresponsible move.
Like thousands of Catholic clerics who commit or conceal heinous child sex crimes, Nienstedt has quietly been moved out of state and recklessly put back to work in a parish even though he’s accused of
--sexual impropriety with young seminarians
--retaliating against at least one of them who rebuffed his sexual advances
-- repeatedly minimizing, enabling and hiding child sex crimes by other clerics.
The archdiocese he headed for years faces a pending criminal charges. And he’s one of about two dozen US bishops to resign in the face of allegations of committing and/or concealing clergy sexual misdeeds.
But he’s done nothing wrong, he’s telling his new Battle Creek Michigan parishioners. Shame on him.
While providing no proof or specifics, he self-servingly claims that
--news media last week reported "misleading information” about him and
--that “some would like to punish (him) for (his) defense of Catholic teachings (on) marriage.”
How convenient to cry “misinformation” while refusing to give media interviews or even a single example of inaccurate reporting. How disingenuous to attack and claim to know others’ people’s motives.
Every US Catholic bishop opposes gay marriage. So why haven’t pro-gay marriage forces gotten every bishop to resign and every diocese to be criminally charged and every prelate to be accused of molesting six or more seminarians and retaliating against one who rejected his sexual advances?
We hope Nienstedt’s mind-boggling denials will prod:
-- St. Paul prosecutor John Choi to double down on his effort to hold Nienstedt and his: colleagues responsible for their irresponsible decisions to protect themselves and endanger others,
-- St. Paul Catholic officials, especially Archbishop Bernard Hebda, to denounce Nienstedt, and
- every single person who saw, suspected or suffered sexual misdeeds or cover ups in Minnesota or Michigan will find the strength to call police, expose wrongdoers and protect kids.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.