Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Not a chance

There are a lot of people who hate Archbishop John Nienstedt, so it's not surprising that he'd be accused of something as absurd as trying to cop a feel during a group confirmation photo four years ago:
Archbishop John Nienstedt has been accused of inappropriately touching a boy and has removed himself from public ministry while the matter is investigated, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Tuesday.

The young man has alleged that Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a group photo session following a confirmation ceremony in 2009.

Nienstedt called the account “absolutely and entirely false.”

The incident was reported Monday afternoon to St. Paul police, which immediately began an investigation.
This allegation was inevitable, because the policy that the Archdiocese has adopted essentially means that any allegation essentially takes the priest, or the archbishop, out of circulation. We'll probably never find out the name of the individual who made the allegation, or any of the actual particulars, because it's only the headline that matters. If there were really a case here, we'd have heard about it from Jeff Anderson, complete with poster-sized pictures of Nienstedt placed on easels as a backdrop.

Having said that, the Archdiocese continues to do itself no favors with the way it has handled the continuing problems with priest behavior. They've managed to anger the chief of police in St. Paul:
St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith declined to comment on the allegation against Nienstedt at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. He said the public can rest assured that his department has assigned adequate resources to investigate that case and other allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy members.

But the chief took exception to the archdiocese’s repeated assertions that it has been cooperating fully with police in those investigations. Smith said his investigators have been denied access to certain clergy members.

“We have, through written and verbal request, made clear our desire to speak to individuals connected with the archdiocese, and we’ve been told, ‘No,’ ” Smith said.

He said that the archdiocese’s former vicar general, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, who handled clergy sex abuse cases for the archdiocese starting in the 1980s, declined, through an attorney, to be interviewed by investigators.
There's no point in trying to hide the decisions that have been made in the past concerning how to deal with priests who are accused of misconduct. Those decisions aren't going to pass scrutiny, no matter what the logic was at the time the decisions were made. The Archdiocese is no longer in charge of such things and the sooner they understand it, the better.

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