MI- Ex- Detroit bishop under investigation, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Archbishop John Nienstedt – now of St. Paul but originally of Detroit - is reportedly being investigated for sexual relationships.
We don't care about Nienstedt's private behavior, unless it involves sexually harassing underlings or makes him unable or unwilling to expose predators in his archdiocese.
We care deeply about Nienstedt's public behavior, especially his continuing secrecy, recklessness and callousness about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. We are perhaps most upset that he refuses to order his long-time top aide in charge of child sex cases to be questioned by police.
We believe that most priests don't or can't honor their celibacy pledge. So they have sexual secrets. And if you have a sexual secret, you're less willing to report the sexual secrets of your colleagues and supervisors, especially if those secrets involve criminal behavior
This is perhaps the most disturbing sentence we've read about this investigation: “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”
We are highly skeptical when bishops like Nienstedt claim that allegations against them are “personal attacks” due to their stance on issues like opposition to same-sex marriage. This is especially unlikely if there are in fact ten accusers including some who were or are Catholic clerics.
Finally, these investigators are hired by Catholic officials. So it seems very unlikely they are somehow unfairly targeting an archbishop.
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered sexual misdeeds or cover ups by Niensted – either in Michigan or Minnesota, to come forward now. It's time to expose the wrongdoers and protect the vulnerable.
Nienstedt was born in Detroit and became a priest and a bishop there. He worked at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson, St. Fabian's Parish in Farmington Hills, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington, St. Regis Church in Birmingham, St. Patrick's Parish in Union Lake and the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak. He was also secretary to Cardinal John Francis Dearden and a part-time professor of moral theology at St. John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth and worked at the Vatican.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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)
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.