Monday, October 20, 2014

In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Renewed Calls for Archbishop Nienstedt's Ouster

The following media release has been issued by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

Last week’s editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, “. . . the archdiocese needs a true reformer to lead it forward. Nienstedt lacks the credibility, both internally and externally, to overcome skepticism that little will change, and his resignation is a necessary next step for an archdiocese in need of healing.” Jennifer Haselberger, the archdiocese's former chancellor for canonical affairs, was quoted last week by WCCO saying the same and calling for the top leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to be removed as well.

These statements echo the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform’s (CCCR) plea for new leadership in the Archdiocese. Once again, CCCR has issued a statement calling for the resignation or removal of Archbishop John Nienstedt. It says:

In response to Archbishop John Nienstedt’s refusal to resign, the CCCR Board reiterates its vote of no confidence as originally stated in our letter of October 24, 2013. We join with SNAP and others in calling for the removal of the archbishop. We remain convinced that the Archbishop is unable to lead our local Church as he can neither unite nor bring healing to our church community. Further, as demonstrated by the many calls for his resignation from Catholics throughout the archdiocese and beyond, John Nienstedt lacks the confidence of the people.

The archbishop’s statement of July 30, 2014, in which he refuses to resign, highlights the gulf between his view of leadership and the type of leadership we need. Although he likens himself to a father, his authoritarian approach to church leadership alienates many and continues to demoralize our local church community. Rather than an authoritarian figure focused on defending his actions and correcting our “errors,” we look for a humble leader who welcomes diversity and fosters unity. Only this will heal the pain of betrayal and alienation caused by Archbishop Nienstedt’s misplaced priorities and mishandling of the ongoing clergy sex abuse crisis.

We take this stance because as lay Catholics we envision a Church that both unites and heals us as a community. Such a church encourages courageous and honest dialogue, creates opportunities for everyone’s full participation, and promotes justice and reconciliation. We seek a Church fully alive, locally and universally, that radiates Jesus’ core teaching of radical equality, unabashed inclusivity, and transforming love. Under the leadership of Archbishop Nienstedt, such a church is not possible. Therefore, we call for his resignation or removal to make way for new leadership that can work with all Catholics to foster this vision of church.

Members of the CCCR picketed the office of the archdiocese last winter carrying signs asking for the Archbishop’s ouster. “He refuses to resign, yet as more time passes, more secrets are revealed and more Catholics feel they have no voice about what’s happening. His resignation or removal is necessary to pave the way for a healthy future for this archdiocese.” said Bob Beutel, CCCR board member. He concluded, “The knife must be removed for the wounds to heal.”

Mary Sutherland of the CCCR Lay Network said, “It is with great sadness that I have watched the current crises in this Archdiocese unfold under the leadership of Archbishop Nienstedt. His actions have not fostered the healing that is so desperately needed and he has not led the people of this Archdiocese into the full meaning of church. His actions in this current climate have further betrayed and alienated the people he was appointed to lead. I can come to no other conclusion than new leadership is necessary for this Archdiocese.”

CCCR was formed in 2009 to help re-establish a healthy, sustainable Catholic church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Following the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, CCCR seeks to activate Catholic lay people because they are critical to achieving that goal. To facilitate engagement in our local Church and develop a strong, unified voice for Catholic laity, the CCCR is building a Lay Network and encouraging a growing community of Catholics to take action and be heard on issues including evolutionary Christianity, gender inclusivity, transparency and accountability, bishop selection and lay involvement in church leadership.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Minneapolis Priest Says Archbishop Nienstedt Must Resign If Church is to Heal
To Heal Church, Nienstedt Must Resign
Archbishop Niestedt Needs to Go. Now
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, "Regime Change is Not Enough"
Healing Can’t Start Until the Knife is Removed from the Wound

Related Off-site Links:
Jennifer Haselberger Was Ignored, Bullied Before Blowing Whistle on Archdiocese, Records Show – Jesse Marx (City Pages, July 15, 2014).
Twin Cities Archdiocese Wanted to Label Marriage Equality-Supporting Priest ‘Disabled’ – Andy Birkey (, July 22, 2014).
Betrayed by Silence: How Three Archbishops Hid the Truth – Madeleine Baran (Minnesota Public Radio News, July 14, 2014).
Has Archbishop Nienstedt's "Shadow" Finally Caught Up With Him? – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, July 1, 2014).

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