The Vatican’s inquiry into ex-Archbishop John Nienstedt has been concluded, according to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Eight years ago, Nienstedt
Stepped down from his role.
In the midst of accusations of concealing the actions of a priest who sexually abused children within the church.
The current Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who took on the position in 2015, issued a statement on Friday. Hebda stated that a thorough investigation by the Vatican found no evidence supporting the allegations against Nienstedt and deemed them to be baseless.
Hebda says he was told of several instances of “imprudent” actions from Nienstedt that were brought to light. He says the instances “either standing alone or taken together” did not warrant any further investigation or penal sanctions.
Pope Francis made the decision to enforce a series of administrative measures. These include prohibiting Nienstedt from carrying out any religious duties or residing in the Saint Paul and Minneapolis region, which encompasses Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Nienstedt will not have permission to perform any duties outside of his home diocese without the explicit consent of the appropriate bishop and only after the Dicastery for Bishops has been notified.
Mike McDonnell, the executive director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), expressed that it is insufficient.
The disclosure of this data by the Vatican is a major insult to victims everywhere. It conveys that their suffering is not significant enough to be taken seriously by us.
I had the opportunity to speak with WCCO on Friday in a one-on-one interview.
Jennifer Haselberger expressed frustration with the lack of transparency.
According to her, we lack any knowledge or understanding about anything. It is simply a collection of vague statements. It does not clear anyone of wrongdoing, and instead raises more questions than it answers.
Can you clarify what were the actions that were considered “imprudent,” given the seriousness of the accusations against Nienstedt?
“If the thorough investigation reveals that he is innocent, I believe he should have the right to publicize that information. However, if the investigation uncovers evidence supporting the accusations, the accusers may want clarification on what was proven and what criteria were used.”
In the past, this has been the Catholic Church’s approach, according to McDonnel. They would simply push the problem away and hope it disappears from view and from people’s minds.
Nienstedt stated that he has been fully compliant with all inquiries regarding the accusations against him, providing truthful answers to the best of his memory. He has also requested the Holy See to clarify any “imprudent” actions he may have taken.
“I will abide by the guidance of the Holy Father, as I have for the past seven years,” Nienstedt stated. “As I am now retired, my ministry will be restricted. I apologize for any suffering caused by the accusations against me, and humbly request your prayers for their recovery.”
Haselberger is also considering the individuals affected.
“People suffered one way or the other. The people that brought the accusations, whether it was imprudent behavior or if it was something that did fall into canonical crime, people were hurt. The church was hurt,” she said. “Let’s keep all of them in mind and look for more ways that we can improve our systems, put pressure on those in authority, and truly create the safe environment that we need.”