Sunday, July 20, 2014

St. Paul Pioneer Press on Nienstedt: "If He Were the CEO of a Corporation, He Would Have Been Canned Already"

Yesterday, in one of the more conservative newspapers of the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Rubén Rosario adds his voice to the chorus of those calling for Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis to step down: noting that Jennifer Haselberger's recent affidavit should be entitled "The Archdiocese That Forgot Christ" and that the affidavit is "the best argument yet" for Nienstedt to resign, Rosario adds, 

If he were the CEO of a corporation, he would have been canned already, sent off with a golden parachute. But he is an archbishop in a top-down, male-dominated religious hierarchy that rarely polices itself on anything and is acutely hostile to a probing secular world and any attempts at outside scrutiny.

In a comment here two days ago, wild hair reminds me that Michael Bayly recently posted a powerful statement at his Wild Reed blog about Nienstedt now being under investigation due to multiple allegations that he has had inappropriate sexual relationships with men including seminarians and priests. Michael notes that as a local Catholic activist who is openly gay and works for gay rights, and as a blogger, he has received communications over the years alleging that Nienstedt is gay and sexually active, but none of those making the allegations has ever been willing to come public with them.

His reading of Nienstedt's situation now: as journalist David Gibson has noted

Nienstedt has earned a reputation as a leading culture warrior in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and his signature issue is homosexuality.

And now, Michael proposes, Nienstedt's shadow has caught up with him — the thing with which he has been obsessed, the thing that has propelled him repeatedly to make, as Michael puts the point, "outlandish and hurtful statements not only about gay people but also those who love and support them" — this shadow side of himself has, it appears, found Nienstedt out, and is having its way with him in a painful and very public way.

Michael notes that he's applying here the Jungian analysis of the shadow offered by John Neafsey in his book A Sacred Voice Is Calling: Personal and Social Conscience. The shadow is those parts of ourselves that "don't neatly fit with our ideal mental image of the person we think we should be, our idea of what a 'good' or 'holy' person is like." When we do not deal with our shadow, when we refuse to admit that it exists, we often split ourselves off from ourselves at a very deep level, and externalize the unacknowledged shadow as a demon we project outwards onto others, onto a demonized group we hope to trounce and demean in order to trounce and demean the shadow we will not confront inside ourselves.

Michael writes,

Many local Catholics were scandalized and angered by the amount of time, energy and money that Nienstedt expended on demonizing gay relationships and attempting to deny them legal recognition in civil law. Such resources, these Catholics contend, could and should have been focused on creating a local church reflective of gospel values, including confronting and dealing with the many issues relating to clergy sex abuse within the archdiocese; issues, which Nienstedt openly admitted in his recent deposition, he was "out of the loop" about. 
I believe that Nienstedt's cluelessness about so much of the external crisis around him stems from his inner unconsciousness of his "shadow," and I believe that Nienstedt's shadow is to do with issues related to his own homosexuality and its integration (or lack thereof) into his life. Remember, according to Neafsey, the shadow is comprised of those parts of ourselves that "don't neatly fit with our ideal mental image of the person we think we should be, [and] our idea of what a 'good' or 'holy' person is like." 

As I said several days ago, the fixation of some of the top leaders of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese on silencing Father Michael Tegeder, a priest who spoke out against Nienstedt's attacks on the gay community, when they knew full well that Father Curtis Wehmeyer  posed a serious threat to minors but shielded him, reveals a very deep sickness in the soul of contemporary Catholicism. Again and again (think Cardinal O'Brien in Scotland), it turns out that top Catholic clerics leading mean-spirited crusades against the LGBT community have gay skeletons in their own closets.

And again and again, it turns out that the very same top Catholic officials who have lambasted gays and sought to depict them as the chief source of corruption in the church (and the cause of the abuse crisis) have protected priests they knew were abusing minors. These dynamics point to serious psychosexual — and moral — sickness in the very soul of Catholicism today. 

And that psychosexual and moral sickness cannot and will not be effectively addressed until the top leaders of the Catholic church come to terms with the homophobia that has caused the church, at this point in its history, to be seen as one of the leading causes of oppression of LGBT people around the world. It won't and can't be addressed until the top leaders of the church admit that the crude biologistic natural-law framework they apply to understanding human sexuality is no longer workable and is rejected by a large majority of Catholics in much of the world.

The psychosexual and moral sickness living in the soul of the Catholic church will also not be effectively addressed until the top leaders of the church address the clericalism that has allowed too many pastoral leaders to pretend that they are models of celibate holiness while they have lived sexually active lives, and often gay lives — while they simultaneously bash their fellow human beings who happen to be gay and blame them for the woes of the church and of the world.

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