An Archbishop Heightens The Contradictions

Archbishop Nienstedt was Pope Benedict XVI’s kind of cleric. When he was Bishop of New Ulm,

he condemned some of the theological views of the man who had held the post before him for 25 years, Bishop Raymond Lucker, a noted progressive clergyman who died in 2001. Denouncing his predecessor’s views was an “extraordinary step,” the National Catholic Reporter noted in an article on the incident. As bishop in New Ulm, Nienstedt prohibited cohabitating couples from being married in Catholic churches. He barred female pastoral administrators from leading prayers at a semiannual leadership event. He once disciplined a priest for holding joint ecumenical services with a Lutheran congregation after the Catholic church had been destroyed by a tornado.

He also had a particular beef with homosexuals, of course. He favored barring them from speaking at Catholic institutions, and opposed even the sentiments of “Always Our Children”, a pastoral attempt to make sure that gay family members are cared for in the church. And he made no bones about it, writing in 2007:

Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin. They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving Holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest.

He cautioned Catholics not to watch Brokeback Mountain:

The story is about two lonely cowboys herding sheep up on a mountain range. One night after a drinking binge, one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex. This sets off a lustful passion in both men that “grabs hold of them” and which they find impossible to control. Rather than a sad symphony to a beautiful love that our homophobic society will not allow to show itself, this is a human tragedy in which their lust leads to the neglect of their work (i.e. sheep ravaged by wolves during the pair’s frolicking), infidelity against their wives (i.e. divorce, anger and grief) and the psychological harm inflicted on their children (i.e. sadness, alienation and grief).

And became quite an activist:

Before the 2010 midterm elections, Nienstedt turned his attention to the burgeoning gay-marriage movement. He recorded an introduction on a DVD opposing gay marriage, which was sent to four hundred thousand Minnesota Catholics. The same year a Catholic mother wrote to him pleading for acceptance for her gay son. He recommended she consult the Catechism. “Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic,” he replied. And in 2012, Nienstedt led a coalition of religious leaders pushing for an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Reportedly, Nienstedt committed $650,000 to those efforts.

Speaking of his vocation, Archbishop Nienstedt once declared: “When I was yet a boy, I fell in love with a beautiful woman who was the bride of Christ.”

So I guess you kinda know what’s coming next.

Commonweal has a good round-up of the story. The gist from Grant Gallicho:

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis is being investigated for “multiple allegations” of inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other men, according to the archbishop’s former top canon lawyer, Jennifer Haselberger. The investigation is being conducted by a law firm hired by the archdiocese. Nienstedt denies the allegations…

“Based on my interview with Greene Espel—as well as conversations with other interviewees—I believe that 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 and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” Jennifer Haselberger, [the archbishop’s top canon lawyer who resigned in protest in 2013] told me. What’s more, “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.” …

“I have never engaged in sexual misconduct and certainly have not made any sexual advances toward anyone,” Nienstedt told me. “The allegations are a decade old or more, prior to my service as archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” he continued, emphasizing that “none of the allegations involve minors or illegal or criminal behavior.”

Another case of a truly fucked up gay man who over-compensated by becoming a priest and insisting on Catholic doctrine to the letter?

Or another persecuted theo-conservative who is innocent on all counts?

And the beat goes on …