The Editorial Team
Are we headed for a SOSO (same old, same old)? Here we have an archdiocesan situation in which the current archbishop, though he has management skills, has been alienating people by his inability to relate and his consequent poor judgment since he took charge in 2008.
Now it is revealed that he ignored warnings of his chief legal officer that a priest might sexually abuse minors and appointed the priest pastor of two parishes where he did abuse minors.
What should happen? Is it about acknowledging failure, doing penance, and moving on? Or is it about sliding by with appearances of authority intact?
The cynical among us think that SOSO will happen. No need for detailed application of SOSO. Everyone has read the media reports, and everyone knows how SOSO works. The big money men get together and broker a deal. There have to be a certain number of resignations to assuage the community’s sense of justice. There have been enough media stories about various bad actors to weary and sicken the public so they will be satisfied if some heads roll and the subject leaves the front pages. There have been enough secondary heads to blame. Which of these also blameworthy officials can be enticed to resign their managerial functions, not giving up any priestly perks, to save the archbishop?
SOSO says law enforcement agencies and county attorneys are not brave enough to buck the huge institutions of religion. It is much easier to come in with insufficient evidence to charge with a crime.
Another requirement of SOSO is a Task Force to study the policies. We have one of those in this archdiocesan situation too.
Call us “unsophisticated,” but we are hoping SOSO does not happen. Jennifer Haselberger, the whistleblower, local law enforcement, and the local media have inspired us with hope that not all is SOSO.
Choosing hope rather than taking the cynic’s stance, we trust that the law enforcement agencies will do a thorough job and make an honest assessment of the evidence.
We trust that the Archdiocesan big donors will look at the best spiritual interests of the Archdiocese in wielding their influence on church management.
We trust that the officials who have already resigned will give interviews about what really happened, their roles in the debacle, and their hard won new understandings of how the church should operate.
We trust that even if he is not charged with a crime, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt will step down from the role of Archbishop for which he is not suited. If he were to emerge from the clerical culture, there are many roles in which he could serve admirably.
We trust that after John Nienstedt’s resignation, the Task Force will design and implement a working procedure for removing immature men from the priesthood and putting them in safe environments.
We trust that Pope Francis, as a first step, will instruct his U.S. delegate to seek recommendations from all the people in this archdiocese in replacing the Archbishop. We hope that he will continue that practice in each diocese when appointing leadership for them.
Who knows what other reforms could follow?
Related Off-site Links:
Retired Archbishop Harry Flynn Resigns from St. Thomas Trustees – Madeleine Baran (Minnesota Public Radio, October 19, 2013).
Could Archbishop Nienstedt Face Charges or Lose His Job? – Beth Hawkins (MinnPost.com, October 14, 2013).
Archdiocese of Wobegon – Grant Gallicho (Commonweal, October 14, 2013).
Under Fire, Archbishop Nienstedt Scrambles to Respond – Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune, October 6, 2013).
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, the Unravelment Continues – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, October 6, 2013).
See also the previous PCV post:
"Trust Your Shepherds"