John Nienstedt became archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2008, long after the systemic support for abusive priests became public. This month he was being deposed in a clergy abuse lawsuit and admitted to covering up information on pedophile priests.
Archbishop John Nienstedt said he was not aware that known child sex abusers were working at the archdiocese during his tenure, nor did he track exactly which priests were being monitored, according to testimony released Tuesday.
Why didn’t he? Because he didn’t want to know.
Nienstedt said that when he became archbishop in 2008 he was briefed about clergy abuse by key archdiocese officials. He testified he didn’t remember the names of any abusive priests mentioned, how many were being monitored or the names of all the archdiocese officials present.
Nienstedt also said he didn’t request the list of “credibly accused” priests that all dioceses are required to maintain. Nor, he recalled, did he press for parishes to be told about the presence of clergy members who were being monitored because of previous child sexual misconduct reports.
A case of deniability and deliberate ignorance.
“I believe that we felt that we could monitor the situation without making a total disclosure to the people,” testified Nienstedt, adding that he no longer feels that way….
Of course he doesn’t feel that way now. He got caught, and it’s bad press. Hiding abusers made sense for years, now it’s time for a
During four hours of questioning, Nienstedt said he believed he had made few mistakes in his oversight of child sexual abuse allegations.
“The only mistakes that I know for sure I made was not removing the faculties from Father [Kenneth] LaVan, but I didn’t know that that was happening at the time,” Nienstedt testified. “Once I learned it, I — I acted.”
The contradictions in his testimony beggar belief. After making the statements above he went on:
Nienstedt often testified during the deposition that he could not remember details about child sexual abusers or about conversations with local church officials about abuse cases.
Notes were not taken at some of these meetings, he acknowledged, because he had been advised against it.
Anderson said Nienstedt continued to assure parishioners that children’s safety was a top priority, but he did not remove all offenders from archdiocese work, which ranged from serving in the ministry to consulting work.
Have you ever said, ‘I want to review the file of Father X,’ ” and have that file produced to you in its entirety so you could make a fully informed decision about what to do or not to do?” asked Anderson.
Replied Nienstedt: “I don’t recall that I have.”
Anderson pushed Nienstedt on whether the archdiocese voluntarily turned over church files on sex abuse allegations against a priest to police. Nienstedt said the church provided “anything [police have] asked for,” but that he didn’t know if the chancery had volunteered the information.
“So it is your position and practice that you don’t turn it over unless they ask?” Anderson said.
“That is correct,
If you don’t have blood pressure issues, you can watch excerpts from the deposition and read more at MPR news.
This is not just a Catholic problem, it exists everywhere a person is in a position of power and has access to children. We have seen cases with teachers, coaches, and club leaders. However, it seems that clergy are the most immune to exposure and prosecution. Protestant churches actually have a higher rate of reported abuse than Catholics within the US, according to a 2010 report by the Baptist Center for Ethics.
A 2007 article in the New York Times indicated that the Roman Catholic Church had recorded 13,000 “credible accusations against Catholic clergymen” over the last 57 years, an average of 228 accusations a year.
In contrast, three companies – Church Mutual, GuideOne and Brotherhood Mutual – insuring churches, religious schools, camps and other religious organizations reported in 2007 that among them, they had been receiving on average more than 330 reported sexual abuse cases a year involving a child for the last 10 to 15 years.
The challenge is the Protestant churches are a varied group without any sort of centralized hierarchy. Thus reports of abuse tend to be isolated and not generalized across denominations, especially since denominations have different means and policies for dealing with accusations.
I also noted that the Baptist Center for Ethics considers abuse to be a sex issue. It is primarily an issue of power and domination. Sexual gratification can be obtained in many ways that do not harm others. In the abuse of minors, it is the need for control and domination of the victim that is paramount. A type of power that clergy wield more than anyone else in society outside of family members.
The special relationship that clergy hold in society has permitted this abuse to reach the epidemic proportions that it has. These are the people who lecture about morality and proclaim that you cannot be good without god. To me it seems that god doesn’t help much.