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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 28
Bad Bishop: Minneapolis Archbishop investigated on sex charges
Section One
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Bad Bishop: Minneapolis Archbishop investigated on sex charges

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Minneapolis has confirmed that Archbishop John Nienstedt is being investigated on charges that he had 'inappropriate sexual relations' with priests, seminarians, and other men. The Vatican has been informed of the inquiry, the Archdiocese added.

News of the internal church investigation was first reported by the independent Catholic magazine Commonweal.

In a statement released by the Archdiocese, Nienstedt said that he had personally authorized the investigation to clear himself of 'absolutely and entirely false' charges.

'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.'

Nienstedt was appointed to the Minneapolis Archdiocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.

This is not Nienstedt's first investigation. In 2013, the Archdiocese announced that he had 'stepped aside from all public ministry' while police investigated an allegation that he touched a boy on the buttocks. By March 2014 he was back on the job, however, after police decided they could not press charges.

Also in 2013, the Archdiocese's canon lawyer, Jennifer Haselberger, revealed that the Archdiocese had covered up multiple complaints of sexual misconduct by priests.

One of those priests was Curtis Wehmeyer, who reportedly had a history of inappropriate sexual behavior, but 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 are asking is whether the archbishop had an 'unprofessional' relationship with Wehmeyer.

According to Commonweal, Haselberger only learned of the current investigation when she was questioned by an outside law firm hired to conduct the inquiry.

Nienstedt told Commonweal that the 'only accusation' is one of 'improper touching (of the person's neck),' made by a former priest.

During his tenure in Minneapolis, Nienstedt has earned a reputation as an outspoken enemy of the LGBT community.

In 2012, he was one of the main supporters of an anti-equality ballot initiative, raising $650,000 for NOM to run that campaign. Nienstedt also ordered priests who opposed the measure to keep silent about their views.

As election day neared, Nienstedt issued a hateful open letter saying that Satan backed same-sex marriage. It was that letter that spurred Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe to go public with his support for LGBT rights.

Even before the 2012 election, Nienstedt took a very public anti-Gay stand. In 2010, for example, he ordered priests serving local Catholic schools to deny communion to Gay students.

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