Vatican concludes investigation into former St. Paul - Minneapolis Archbishop Nienstedt; SNAP Reacts

(For Immediate Release January 5, 2023) 

A multiyear investigation overseen by the Catholic Church into Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, who resigned from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2015, has ended with the Vatican finding that he acted “imprudently” in several instances but not criminally under canon law, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda said in a statement Jan. 5.

The investigation, overseen by the Catholic Church, aimed to address the alleged misconduct of Nienstedt and provide closure to the victims and their families. However,  we believe the findings have left many faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis feeling betrayed and harboring mistrust towards the church's handling of the situation. The failure to adequately address Nienstedt's alleged misconduct has caused significant pain and suffering for the victim-survivors and their loved ones. It leaves more questions rather than answers.

To address these concerns, the Vatican has imposed restrictions on Nienstedt, prohibiting him from residing in the province of St. Paul or Minnesota. In our view, this decision reflects the church's reluctance to associate with the former Archbishop, indicating a clear apprehension among church officials. Nienstedt resigned in disgrace in 2015 after the archdiocese faced criminal charges of "failure to protect children" and filed for bankruptcy.

As we see it, the lack of consequences for clerics who conceal child sex crimes sends two distressing messages. Firstly, it tells abuse victims that their pain is inconsequential. Secondly, it signals to other clerics that no matter the suffering they cause, they will always be protected within the church. These messages are deeply hurtful to the vulnerable, the already wounded, and the church itself.

Those accused of sexually abusing or covering up abuse must not be allowed to enjoy the privileges that come with ordination. Ignoring Nienstedt's behavior only serves to condone it and encourages a culture of corruption within the church, where clergy and staff members may turn a blind eye, knowing that the consequences will be minimal if they are caught.

The Catholic Church must take a stand against abuse and cover-ups, not only for the sake of the victims but also to prevent similar incidents from occurring worldwide. Those responsible for such heinous acts must face real penalties and be held accountable for their actions.

CONTACT: Frank Meuers, SNAP Leader Twin Cities, Winona and New Ulm (952-334-5180), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board of Directors President ([email protected], 814- 341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is


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