CA--Disgraced archbishop attends Napa conference this weekend; Victims respond
For immediate release: Friday, July 8, 2016
We have just learned that a disgraced archbishop, who resigned amid numerous allegations that he committed and concealed clergy sexual misconduct, will be leading two services at a conference at the Meritage Hotel in the Napa Valley this weekend.
We urge conference organizers to disinvite the controversial prelate and attendees to withdraw from the event unless that happens immediately. It’s especially important that Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa take action, since the conference is in his diocese. http://napa-institute.org/conference/conference-schedule-and-brochure/
Archbishop John Nienstedt, the former head of the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese, is at the Napa Institute for the next few days. Several sources have told us he works there permanently now. He’s accused of sexually exploiting and/or propositioning between five and ten young seminarians. In civil litigation and repeated media exposes (especially by Minnesota Public Radio), he’s been shown to have ignored or concealed child sex crimes by priests. And the archdiocese he ran for years faces pending criminal charges for refusing to report suspected abuse by clerics.
Neinstedt has no business being given any role or honor at any Catholic event. We believe he should be defrocked.
Earlier this year, he quietly moved to Michigan where he was found working in a parish. After protests from concerned Catholics and our group, he quickly left.
Over the past few years, however, Nienstedt is accused of 1) making “unwanted sexual advances” toward at least six Detroit seminarians, 2) retaliating against one of them who rebuffed him, 3) interfering with a church sexual misconduct investigation and 4) concealing the crimes of predator priests. He resigned as the head of the archdiocese he headed for seven years just ten days after it became “the first one in the nation to be charged with failure to protect children.”
Again, we call on every church official or member attending this event to withdraw and publicly explain why and join us in urging conference organizers to rescind their invitation to Neinstedt.
His presence is problematic in two ways. First, it rubs salt into the wounds of hundreds of victims and thousands of Catholics in Minnesota who are in pain or feel betrayed by his horrific record on clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. Second, it sends precisely the wrong signal to other church officials: “No matter how egregious your wrongdoing may be, we’ll always find a place of honor for you in the Catholic hierarchy.”
Attendees include New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Los Angeles Bishop Robert Barron, Portland OR Archbishop Alexander Sample, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, Cheyenne Bishop Paul Etienne and Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa. Apparently, Rev. Rick Warren, a high profile mega-church leader, is also at the conference.
No matter what Nienstedt or other church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)