Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

Turning a corner in the Archdiocese

Aug 2, 2016

Last week was very momentous as Ramsey County dropped the criminal charges against the Archdiocese in exchange for the admission that the Archdiocese had failed to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy. I was grateful that Archbishop Hebda had the capacity to admit that we failed. He took the beginning of our liturgy as his example. He was right to do so. Too often the power centers within the Church would advise against this example, saying it is inappropriate for us to admit that we have sinned. The example of our liturgy speaks a different wisdom. Yes, we have sinned, and I include myself within the sickness of the confession. I have too often embraced the emptiness of ecclesial posturing over the true admittance of our sin. Wrongs have been done by members of the clergy. Too often, and too scandalous to ever avoid, yet, most of the clergy have said little to nothing even as our brother priests have committed atrocities and our shepherd have been wolves among the lambs.

I have spoken a few times, but always with a fear of reprisals and a sense of disloyalty. I have grown from this experience and have come to recognize clerical obedience to first recognize the integrity and honesty of the bishop before I embrace his leadership. It is stunning, yet telling, to see Nienstedt's response to the allegations against him. The issue is the appointment of Curtis Whemeyer as pastor at Blessed Sacrament. Nienstedt never mentions this, but in his statements he says he is being persecuted for his support of the family life amendment. He exhibits a sickness, that rational people might find puzzling. He is fully in a state of denial in which he cannot own any of his complicity with appointing a child molester as a pastor. We witness true mental illness as we listen to him speak.

How could this happen, that a man of questionable rationality could become an Archbishop of a major Church and become it's leader? I am told that after Pope John Paul II was shot he never recovered his strength or vigor. Middle management began running the Church (the cardinals) and they were very open to the social climbers who were willing to do just about anything to get a hierarchical appointment in the Church. From what I have lived through I have come to accept this as part of the truth of what we have experienced. Nienstedt did what he could to be noticed and get promoted, but he was never capable of doing the job of being our Archbishop.

I believe we have turned a corner and with Archbishop Hebda embracing a wrong that he never committed we will be able to move forward. I think the cancer has been exhumed and now the healthy life of the Church can once again grow. Let's thank God that he has walked with us through this very dark chapter of our Archdiocesan life.


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