I Can Never Undo What Happened to Those Boys says Church Whistleblower


I can never undo what happened to those boys, and that hangs incredibly heavy on me, says Jennifer Haselberger.

That is evidently the motivation that led Ms Haselberger, who is the former chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis, to turn whistle-blower against her employer.

Ms Haselberger found what she describes as child pornography on the computer disks of a priest who is still in active ministry. She resigned her position with the archdiocese after her attempts to get action concerning this priest from her boss, Archbishop John Nienstedt, failed.

Personally, I am all out of patience with the bishops who do this. When a bishop’s response to photos from a priest’s computer of a child engaging in sexual acts is to confiscate the evidence and refuse to act, there’s something wrong with that bishop as a man and a human being. That kind of behavior is also, at least here in Oklahoma, a felony, with serious jail time attached to it.

These bishops who do this are not following Jesus. Followers of Christ do what Ms Haselberger did and defend children from sexual assault, regardless of the cost to themselves.

This set-in-concrete, stubborn refusal to defend little children from sexual assault by at least some of the bishops makes no sense. They are contributing to the scandal which has so greatly damaged the Church’s moral witness in these perilous times. They even set themselves up for criminal prosecution.

This isn’t a lapse in either judgement or morals. It’s gone on too long for it to be a lapse of any sort.

Why do they keep doing this?

What is wrong with these men?

From Minnesota Public Radio:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The church lawyer turned whistleblower at the center of a series of investigative reports involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was described glowingly as “studious, thoughtful and extremely well prepared” by the archbishop who hired her in 2008.

As of last week, a lawyer for the archdiocese was referring to her as a disgruntled former employee.

Jennifer Haselberger, who left her position as chancellor for canonical affairs last April, was appointed to the post in August 2008 by Archbishop John Nienstedt. She resigned four and a half years later after a series of unsuccessful attempts to get her superiors to take action on problem priests.

One of those efforts, which she later described as the “nuclear option,” involved copying pornographic images that had been found on a priest’s computer onto a word document and sending them to the archbishop. Some of the images, she said, appeared to show boys engaged in sexual acts.

After Nienstedt failed to call the police, his deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, ordered Haselberger to hand over the images. She did so, she said — and called Ramsey County authorities. She also contacted MPR News.

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  • FW Ken

    So the police said the pictures weren’t pornographic. I think I’ve said before that I went to the police once with what I thought was sexual child abuse and was informed that it wasn’t. It’s frustrating. I’m thinking there is more to this story as well.

    The priest should certainly have been removed from ministry on the strength of non-pornographic pictures, since the clinical definition of porn is basically whatever arouses. You can’t define that legally, but a church ought to go with the definition.that’s applicable to its work. The priest with the camper was acting out long before he molested those boys, and it was a failure of pastoral care to allow him to remain in ministry. All in all, the bishops in this country are notable for their failures in charity, whether we are talking about pro-choice politicians, dissident clergy and lay people, or sexually aberrant protest priests. There is nothing living our pastoral about letting people go over a cliff.

    That said, I would be very interested to hear the archbishop’s side of the story. That a “CEO” would ignore the advice of his lawyer – even a canon lawyer – seems far outside of normal behavior.

  • SisterCynthia

    Without true repentance on their part, I would NOT want to be one of these bishops, standing before the Lord on Judgement Day and explaining why they didn’t mind those under them preying upon “the least of these.” I believe their actions to shield pedophiles lands them in the company of those whom the Lord said, “it would have been better for them not to have been born.” That apparently doesn’t terrify them, but it would me! I hope the church’s leaders will wake up to the need for true purity and justice, rather than believing it’s good enough to just whitewash old tombs. :(

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Wait though. Is there something missing in the story? There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the current priest in question engaged in anything illegal. Porn is not illegal and it only says “possible child pornagraphy.” Don’t get me wrong, that’s clearly a warning signal and the priest should be disciplined if not defrocked if that is the appropriate punishment, but the story may be inflated. I’m a little suspiscious here and would like to get the Archbishop’s side of the story.