I am sorry to report that Archbishop John Nienstedt, former spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, has left his temporary position assisting an ailing priest in Kalamazoo in the face of mounting pressure.
Last week I told you about the negative reaction when the former archbishop came out of retirement to serve for six months at Battle Creek’s St. Philip Catholic Church, where the pastor is dealing with a medical problem. Led by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, some parishioners objected to the presence of Archbishop Nienstedt, charging that he had failed to protect Catholics in his archdiocese from predatory priests. (In actuality, the archbishop had acted responsibly and had been exonerated of any wrongdoing; but his reputation had been undermined by those who opposed his defense of Catholic teaching, specifically with regard to same-sex marriage.)
On Thursday, January 21, following two weeks of protests by Catholic parents and advocates for abuse victims, St. Philip’s pastor Fr. John Fleckenstein wrote a letter to parishioners saying that Abp. Nienstedt would leave his post “in light of the unintended discord that his presence was causing.”
Bishop Paul J. Bradley of the Kalamazoo Diocese issued a statement later, saying he regretted not understanding the “emotional reaction” created by Nienstedt’s arrival.
“Archbishop Nienstedt’s presence has unintentionally brought about a sense of disunity, fear, and hurt to many of you during this brief period of time,” wrote Bradley. “As your spiritual father and shepherd, I regret that more than words can express.”
So it is over. The social activists of SNAP may gloat over their apparent “victory”; but parishioners will be deprived of the excellent homilies and faithful witeness of this holy man of God.
Please continue to pray for Archbishop Nienstedt and for all those who serve our Church faithfully regardless of the potential consequences. Pray, too, for those who have been abused, for the abusers, and for those–like the members of SNAP–who wear their victimhood like a badge of honor.