Anti-Gay Catholic Archbishop Under Investigation For “Inappropriate Sexual Conduct” With Men

A Roman Catholic archbishop in Minnesota who has been one of the church’s most vocal opponents of gay rights is – drum roll please – the target of an investigation into allegations that he had a series of “inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other men.”

Let’s see what this lovely man on God has been up to recently.

According to Towleroad:

Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt, the guy who spearheaded a mass mailing in 2010 of 400,000 anti-gay DVDs, and created a special “marriage prayer” which he asked the state’s Catholics to recite during Mass in an effort to create support for the anti-gay amendment on Minnesota’s ballot in November, also told the mother of a gay son that she should reject him or risk burning in hell, according to a recently-surfaced letter.

Wrote Nienstedt:

I write to inform you that the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, as described in paragraphs 2357 and 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is rooted in Scripture and based on the Natural Moral Law. It, therefore, shares in God’s revelation to us. Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching. Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.

Indeed, some might find this is a hard saying by many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such. I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed in your letter. Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.

Slate reports that Commonweal, a Catholic magazine based in New York, first reported the investigation:

The magazine’s source is a former church lawyer named Jennifer Haselberger, who resigned in 2013 to protest the decision—made by Nienstedt, among others—to allow a priest with known sexual inappropriateness issues to lead a parish. (That priest was subsequently arrested and jailed for child sexual abuse that occurred well after his past misbehavior had been made known to church officials.) Haselberger says she was recently contacted by outside lawyers contracted by the archdiocese to investigate Nienstedt, and that their investigation has turned up ten witnesses who accuse Nienstedt of inappropriate sexual behavior and of “retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”
In a separate case, Nienstedt has been acused of groping a boy during a group photo shoot in 2009.

“Based on my interview with Greene Espel — as well as conversations with other interviewees — I believe the investigators have received about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as Bishop of New Ulm, and while coadjutor/archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” Haselberger told Commonweal.

She added that “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”

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.”