Nienstedt Resigns After Abuse Cover-Up: The Flawed Element

Nienstedt Resigns After Abuse Cover-Up: The Flawed Element June 15, 2015

Coat of arms of John Clayton Nienstedt via Wikimedia Commons
Coat of arms of John Clayton Nienstedt via Wikimedia Commons

Our stomachs have been turning for a long time. We keep asking, “when does this nightmare end”? We’ve thrown out bad priests and put some excellent protocols in place — protocols that perhaps the public schools in NYC, and other locales should consider adopting, because they work.

But great protocols don’t work if the human elements do not apply them. Thankfully, wheels are continuing to turn and bishop accountability has begun. This morning comes news that Archibishop John Clayton Nienstedt of Minneapolis and Saint Paul has resigned:

Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche resigned under the code of Church law that allows bishops to resign before they retire, either because of illness or some other “grave reason” that makes them unfit for office.

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged the archdiocese as a corporation for having ignored repeated reports of inappropriate behavior by a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.
“My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of His Church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down,” he said.

Still, Nienstedt stood by his decisions as archbishop. “I leave with a clear conscience knowing that my team and I have put in place solid protocols to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” he said.

The human element. Read the rest of the story to see how good protocols were failed by it.

Read Nienstedt’s full statement, here.

From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, a Minnesota resident, writes on the impact of this resignation:

The new revelations about the lack of action on Wehmeyer and four other priests named in the indictment angered people all over again. Priests were addressing it during Mass to acknowledge the anger and frustration from parishioners who thought the archdiocese and the Church as a whole had learned their lesson. On the other hand, the staff at the chancery has changed significantly in response to the later scandals, and the new vicar general — a friend of mine — is a no-nonsense priest who takes the job of righting the ship very, very seriously.

The resignations of Nienstadt and Piche may give the archdiocese a chance to truly turn a corner, bolstered by a Pope whose own anger and frustration over the scandals has become very well known. It’s a second chance, and an opportunity to clear the air. There may be more shoes to drop from the prosecutors in this case, but the new archbishop will be on notice to ensure that there will be no repeat — unless he wants to find himself on trial in the Vatican, too.

Deacon Greg takes a look at what happens, when a bishop resigns, according to canon law. Check it out!

Kathy Schiffer has more.

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