The disgraced former head of the Twin Cities Archdiocese, John Nienstedt, still saying Masses in California's wine country
For immediate release, Monday, August 13, 2018
Statement by: Tim Lennon, President, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP
Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned in shame as Minnesota's top Catholic churchman in June 2015. The archbishop left his archdiocese shortly after it was charged criminally with “failure to protect children." Archbishop Nienstedt’s successor publicly admitted that this was indeed the case.
The archbishop also stands accused of sexually violating priests and young seminarians. However, the investigation into those charges was derailed by the papal nuncio in 2014.
Despite this, Archbishop Nienstedt is comfortably ensconced at a Napa Valley church institute and practices as a featured religious celebrant. The archbishop will be officiating at five of the masses at the Napa Institute in California’s Eighth Annual Conference, held July 11-15, 2018. While the founder of the institute decried the recent scandal over Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, he appears to have no problem with the former Twin Cities archbishop.
However, every time a cleric who concealed child sex crimes plays a public role or gets a public recognition and honor, two signals are sent. To abuse victims, the signal is "Your pain doesn't matter." And to other clerics the signal is "No matter how much suffering you cause, you'll always be a treasured member of our club with all of its perks." Both are very hurtful, to the vulnerable, to the already hurt, and to the church itself.
For the sake of wounded victims and Catholics, and to deter similar cover ups across the globe, top church officials cannot remain silent. Those accused of sexually abusing a child or an adult, or accused of covering up abuse, must not be able to enjoy all the respect and privileges of being a priest. Ignoring Archbishop Nienstedt's behavior essentially condones it, and encourages other church staff to turn a blind eye to corruption, knowing that, if caught, they'll experience few real penalties.
We call on Catholic officials to denounce and stop this hurtful injustice which rubs more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of hundreds of suffering survivors and tens of thousands of betrayed Catholics in Minnesota and beyond.
We call on the current head of the Twin Cities archdiocese, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, to publicly speak out against this deplorable situation.
We call on all Twin Cities church employees, particularly priests, to do likewise.
We call on Houston's Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of America's bishops, join in the denouncement.
Last, but not least, we call on Pope Francis to force Archbishop Nienstedt to stop saying public masses and to defrock him.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has network of more than 25,000 survivors and supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org); Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175, firstname.lastname@example.org), Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, 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.
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.