Vatican urged to reveal status of ousted US archbishop

2018-12-18 05:35
Pope Francis. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Pope Francis. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A prominent US archbishop is asking the Vatican for answers about the status of an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by his predecessor, who was forced to resign in 2015.

St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote a remarkable letter to his flock on Friday in which he revealed he sent the Vatican in 2016 a new allegation of improprieties with minors against retired Archbishop John Nienstedt.

County prosecutors informed Hebda of the allegation, he said. It accused Nienstedt of inviting two minors to his hotel room in 2005 at a Vatican-organised youth rally in Germany to change out of wet clothes, the archbishop wrote.

Protecting children from predator priests

Hebda said Nienstedt "then proceeded to undress in front of them and invited them to do the same". He noted that Nienstedt denied the allegation.

Nienstedt was forced to resign as archbishop after Minnesota prosecutors charged the Twin Cities archdiocese with failing to protect children from a predator priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

Nienstedt was one of the first US bishops known to have been forced from office for botching sex abuse investigations. He also faced allegations of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with adults. He denied misconduct, and the archdiocese hired two law firms to investigate, but the results were never made public.

Hebda said as far as he knew, the Vatican suspended the 2014 investigation when Nienstedt resigned in June 2015. He called for a resolution to that probe, and for information about the alleged World Youth Day incident.

"My opinion is this allegation needs to be fully addressed before a definitive resolution of Archbishop Nienstedt's suitability for ministry can be made," Hebda wrote.

Pope accuses Chile bishops of destroying sex abuse evidence

Pope Francis has accused Chile's bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring church lawyers to minimize accusations and of "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophile priests.

The Vatican didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Nienstedt, who was bishop of New Ulm at the time of the alleged incident in Germany, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But he denied it in an email to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and welcomed an investigation.

"I do deny the veracity of this allegation," he said. "That being said, I don't want to speak poorly of the men making these accusations. I welcome an impartial look at the facts and the opportunity to defend myself."

READ: Crucial abuse hearing for top Vatican official opens in Australia

Nienstedt's case has taken on new relevance given the sex abuse scandal surrounding ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington now accused of sexual misconduct with both adult seminarians and at least one minor.

Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens have held up both the McCarrick and the Nienstedt scandals as evidence of the need for a lay-led mechanism to review misconduct allegations against bishops, who are answerable only to the pope.

Hebda said he is doing what he can within his authority by forbidding Nienstedt from exercising public ministry in his archdiocese. But he said Nienstedt's fate is ultimately in the Vatican's hands.

"The matter remains unresolved for the accusers, for Archbishop Nienstedt and for the public," he said. "I share the frustration that is felt by them."

Read more on:    vatican  |  sexual abuse  |  religion  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.