Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Healing Can’t Start Until the Knife is Removed from the Wound

The Editorial Team

On the evening of Sunday, November 3, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt presided over a Penitential Holy Hour prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Paul. According to the Archbishop, the service was "for those whose faith is tested by scandal, failure and sin . . .[and those] who have been wounded by the church."

We see a serious problem here, however, as at no time either before, during or after the service has the Archbishop admitted any responsibility for his role in the division and hurt that is wounding our local church.

We agree with the Archbishop that a healing process needs to take place. However, no healing can take place under leadership that is itself a cause of the division, the knife in the wound. John C. Nienstedt is a cause of division. This is why Catholics across the Archdiocese continue to call for his resignation.

Instances of his divisiveness: Instead of assessing the pastoral value of the systems regarding sexually abusive priests that he inherited from the archbishop before him, he ratified them. When they proved to have failed, instead of an open and honest response to the allegations of cover-up of sexual abuse by priests made by Jennifer Haselberger in the media, he gave an evasive statement in the October 24 issue of The Catholic Spirit. Instead of trust and forgiveness, it inspired mistrust in his ability to face a difficult situation.

He does not seem capable of envisioning a pastoral approach to victims of sexual abuse. Instead of searching them out, listening to them, offering them hope, he has continued a system of obstruction of claims, surrounding the system with defenders. Victims, survivors, their families and friends have been permanently alienated.

The division caused by the Archbishop does not begin with the revelations of cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. Prior to the revelation of sex-abuse cover-up, the Archbishop’s vociferous and expensive campaigning against civil marriage for gay and lesbian citizens was a cause of division. A majority of Catholics rejected his position and voted in favor of equality for same-sex couples. The Archbishop’s framing the issue as“the fight of our lives” caused pain and division in parishes and families.

The Archbishop’s rigidity with regard to sacramental form has caused parish communities to divide and groups to escape his jurisdiction by establishing intentional Eucharistic communities. Instead of welcoming the variety of forms possible within a sacramental imaginary, he has alienated life-long, deeply religious Catholics from the institutional church.

Throughout his episcopate, instead of welcoming a diversity of points of view, he has refused to speak with people who question his pronouncements, has refused to let people who openly question him meet in their own parish buildings, and has censored speakers in parishes. This has alienated people who value the rich intellectual tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. It stifles growth and creates division among people about the “right” way to think to be Catholic.

That men and women on the church payroll have to “stay under the radar” to keep their jobs is a cause of division. A woman at the Call to Action meeting in Milwaukee on November 1-3, 2013, would not say aloud the name of the parish she works for, for fear of reprisals by the Archbishop should word get back to him that she was there. Fear, silence, and double-dealing divide people from the free and joyful living of the Gospel.

Refusal to be open and transparent about finances is a cause of division. A general annual report in the Catholic Spirit is the Archbishop’s response to calls for financial transparency. Suspicion of mismanagement of pension funds for priests and lay employees is a cause of division.

Given no awareness of or admission by John C. Nienstedt of his role in the alienation and division pervasive in the Archdiocese, we do not believe that healing can take place under his leadership.

We are therefore calling upon the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, by individual letters to his office at 3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20008, to recommend a priest from our Archdiocese who is capable of pulling together the various factions in the community, in the model of Pope Francis, to serve the mission of the Church.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Save the Date! — A Call for the Resignation of Archbishop Nienstedt
Proiest Demands Nienstedt Explain Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Archbishop Nienstedt Does "Boilerplate PR"
To Regain Trust, Twin Cities Archdiocese Will Have to Come Clean
Catholic Coalition for Church Reform Votes No Confidence in the Leadership of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
Can the Archdiocese Continue Under the Leadership of John C. Nienstedt?
Statement by Jennifer Haselberger
"Trust Your Shepherds"


  1. As a life long Catholic and former police officer, I don't call for his resignation, I call for his arrest and prosecution for numerous crimes, including but not limited to 609.342 AIDING AND ABETTING CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE FIRST DEGREE. 609.175 ENABLING A FELONY. 609.495 AIDING AN OFFENDER. 609.50 OBSTRUCTING LEGAL PROCESS. 609.378 NEGLECT OR ENDANGERMENT OF CHILD.

  2. Hatchet Man, I trust that law enforcement is doing its job. If you are right, he will have to face those consequences too. As a former police officer, can you tell us if there are problems in charging well-known, presumably respectable public figures? No problems?