Request to Vatican to investigate Archbishop Nienstedt in limbo

Tom Johnson, the clergy abuse ombudsman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, submitted a formal request to the Vatican last July to investigate possible misconduct by former Archbishop John Nienstedt.

He’s still awaiting a response.

The Vatican announced new protocols in May for holding bishops, not just priests, accountable for clergy abuse. Johnson, a former Hennepin County attorney, said he still doesn’t know why the Vatican isn’t adhering to its own standard of responding within 30 days.

“It’s a huge problem when the church is trying to restore trust,” said Johnson, who called it a “test case” of the Vatican’s much-touted protocols.

The Vatican’s representative in Washington, D.C., did not respond to questions about the Nienstedt case.

Nienstedt oversaw the archdiocese from 2008 to 2015, when he resigned following Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s decision to file civil and criminal charges against the archdiocese for failing to protect children. The case centered on the archdiocese’s failure to discipline former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who had a history of sexual misconduct and was charged with sexually abusing two boys at his St. Paul church.

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