Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jennifer Haselberger on Current Status of Nienstedt Investigation: Contextual Information

This is a footnote to what I posted yesterday about the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and its choice to hire a high-powered criminal lawyer for its ongoing investigation of allegations that St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop John Nienstedt has behaved inappropriately with adult males. Yesterday, at her blog site, the former chancellor for canonical affairs of the archdiocese, Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned her position last year in protest of the archdiocese's handling of the abuse crisis, provides some information "by way of context" to interpret what's going on now in the archdiocese.

We learn the following from this posting by someone who has strong reason to know what's going on with the archdiocesan investigation "on the inside":

1. "[M]y understanding has always been that it [i.e., the current investigation] originated with a group of well-meaning and influential people within the Archdiocese who, out of frustration with the growing calamity of leadership coupled with the Archbishop's refusal to fall on his sword, saw such an investigation as a tool that could be used to pressure Nienstedt to resign." (Note: Haselberger does not think the current investigation originated with the Holy See.)

2. "I know for a fact that certain individuals with more leverage than Father Laird had been attempting to convince the Archbishop to resign since approximately September of 2013, although I am not certain if the two groups are the same."

3. "Where problems arose, in my opinion, was that Greene and Espel was determined to conduct a credible investigation, whatever the result, whereas those behind the investigation would (I believe) have preferred a little less success." (Note: Greene and Espel is the firm that conducted the initial investigation, which the criminal lawyer I mentioned yesterday, Peter Wold, is now said by those in the know to be re-conducting [and second-guessing].)

4. "In other words, I think the purpose of the investigation was to get just enough information to entice the Archbishop to depart, without stirring up any additional trouble in the process."

5. "I think those behind the investigation were probably shocked and disturbed at the extent of what was uncovered, and equally troubled by the Archbishop's continued refusal to resign. They may not have gone looking for a mess, but they certainly found one."

6. Haselberger says she does not know with certainty when auxiliary bishops Lee A. Piché and Andrew H. Cozzens informed the Apostolic Nuncio of the investigation's findings. But she has reason to believe they went to D.C. to see him this past spring. And: "Shortly thereafter I believe the Archdiocese began to try and distance itself from the investigation, and to set up obstacles to Greene and Espel completing its work."

7. "In conversations with others involved in the investigation I began to hear grumblings against the work that was being done, including suggestions that the attorneys were being a little too diligent in their investigation."

8. "I took this as an indication, which I was later able to confirm, that Greene and Espel had uncovered a significant amount of information indicating that the Archbishop had committed acts of 'misconduct' (I believe this is the term that the Archdiocese prefers), including a number of individuals who made sworn statements attesting to the conduct they experienced."

A fascinating story, isn't it? My footnote to it: it should absolutely not be forgotten that Ninestedt has been one of the most outspoken and zealous anti-gay culture warriors in the American hierarchy — that, under his leadership, the Catholic dioceses of the state sent videos out to every Catholic household in the state several years ago, attacking same-sex marriage; that he placed the weight of the state's Catholic dioceses in an open and nakedly partisan way behind an amendment to outlaw the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage (when a law to that effect was already on the books); that he has denied communion to advocates of same-sex marriage; that he told the mother of a gay son to reject her son or risk burning in hell; that he has expended no one knows how many dollars contributed by Catholics in the archdiocese to the upkeep of churches and schools and works of mercy to his anti-gay crusade; that as all of this was going on, he had, we have every reason to conclude, knowledge of the abuse of minors by several priests whom he allowed to continue in ministry.

You can obtain information about all of these stories by clicking on the label, "Archbishop John Nienstedt," below.

An interesting story — and one with very direct application to the questions we discussed yesterday of how the Catholic church deals pastorally with human beings who happen to be gay . . . . 

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