On Monday, June 15th, Archbishop John Nienstedt announced his resignation as the head of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It marks the end of more than a decade of anti-LGBT activism by Nienstedt in Minnesota.
Neinstedt was embattled by allegations that the Archdiocese covered up child sexual abuse, and in early June, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi brought charges against the Archdiocese for “failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm.”
In a statement, Nienstedt said:
In order to give the Archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and I have just received word that he has accepted it. The Catholic Church is not our Church, but Christ’s Church, and we are merely stewards for a time. My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of His Church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down. I leave with a clear conscience knowing that my team and I have put in place solid protocols to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. I ask for continued prayers for the well-being of this Archdiocese and its future leaders. I also ask for your continued prayers for me.
Critics have hailed the resignation as a positive move for the Roman Catholic Church in Minnesota. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Rev. Michael Tegeder said nienstedt “came into this diocese without really any empathy” and “undermined so many of the good things that were going on here…He had to go.”
The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and the Council of the Baptized “welcomed the news of the resignations of Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Lee Piché,” the group said in a statement. “Healing can now begin.”
CCCR continued, “Leadership change will not be enough, though: this diocese, and the Church as a whole, needs to shed the cloak of clericalism and adopt a new attitude of inclusiveness. The faithful need to step up and play active roles in the governance of our Church as prescribed by the Open Windows principles of the Second Vatican Council. CCCR has already submitted to the Papal Nuncio, the Pope’s representative in Washington, DC, the names of proven senior pastors in our diocese who are outstanding candidates to be named bishop. Rome needs to hear the voices of experience and judgment of local Catholics in the selection of our next leader.”