Virulently anti-gay Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt is being investigated for having had “inappropriate sexual relations” with priests, seminarians, and other men.
The archdiocese confirmed the investigation, which was first reported by Commonweal, a Catholic magazine based in New York. Nienstedt, 67, said in a separate statement that the allegations “are absolutely and entirely false” and he said he himself authorized the internal investigation, which he called “independent, thorough.” “The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior,” Nienstedt said. “The allegations involve events alleged to have occurred at least a decade ago, before I began serving in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” Commonweal’s story cites Jennifer Haselberger, former top canon lawyer for Nienstedt, as saying she learned of the investigation when she was questioned by attorneys from the firm that the archdiocese hired, Greene Espel.
Nienstadt said today that the Vatican has been made aware of the investigation. More from Commonweal:
“I have never engaged in sexual misconduct and certainly have not made any sexual advances toward anyone,” Nienstedt told me. “The allegations are a decade old or more, prior to my service as archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” he continued, emphasizing that “none of the allegations involve minors or illegal or criminal behavior.” The “only accusation,” Nienstedt explained, is of “improper touching (of the person’s neck),” and was made by a former priest. The archbishop has been under intense scrutiny since September 2013, when Haselberger went public with damning accounts of the way the archdiocese had dealt with clerics accused of sexual misconduct. One of those priests was Curtis Wehmeyer, a man with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior who was nevertheless promoted by Nienstedt to become pastor of two parishes. Wehmeyer went on to molest children at one of those parishes. One of the questions investigators have been asking is whether the archbishop had an unprofessional relationship with Wehmeyer.
In 2012 Nienstedt supported NOM in the failed campaign to place a ban on same-sex marriage into the Minnesota state constitution. The Minneapolis Archdiocese reportedly committed $650,000 to the referendum. (Tipped by JMG reader Father Tony)
PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: In 2010 Nienstedt ordered that communion be denied to openly gay students. Also in 2010, Nienstedt’s archdiocese sent out 400,000 DVDs to Minnesota voters
urging that they support anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. In January 2012, Nienstedt ordered all of Minnesota’s priests to remain silent if they opposed the coming referendum on same-sex marriage. Later in 2012, it was Nienstedt’s ugly anti-gay public letter that launched NFL player Chris Kluwe into the spotlight after Kluwe penned a blistering response in a local newspaper. In September of that year Nienstedt declared that Satan loves sodomy. Also in September 2012, Nienstedt was accused of shielding a pedophile priest who is currently in prison.