Nov. 23, 2013
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington DC 20008.
I am in a quandary. The sex abuse scandal has been going on for years.
The pedophiles are harmful of themselves, of children and of the church. They deserve condemnation, treatment and forgiveness. My bigger problem is with the church authorities who allowed it to happen. Moving offenders to other parishes with no effective observation or control is hard to forgive.
Our archbishop, John Nienstedt, is trying to investigate the problem in our diocese. But how can we trust him? He has tried before and promised victims that the perpetrators would be removed or put where they can't be with kids. BUT HE HASN'T FOLLOWED THROUGH. Decade after decade, more victims are created. I see no hope of recovery while present leadership is in place.
The names of creditably accused priests should be published. Doing so would do 3 things: It would discourage moving pedophiles , since parishioners would know of problem priests. It would remove the veil of suspicion from all the good priests who are tarnished by association. And it would show the people that a new order is under way.
Please convey to Pope Francis that we need new leadership. I would be pleased to vote on candidates. Or at least allow recall elections.
I am currently worshiping outside the formal Catholic Church structure as I await change.
I wrote to Archbishop Vigano on Oct 29, 2013.
I started the letter
"With great regret I ask you to look carefully at Archbishop John Nienstedt of the St Paul/Minneapolis Diocese in Minnesota".
My final paragraph
"Archbishop John Nienstedt's credibility as a leader has been compromised, we no longer believe in him or his words of placating our desire for full disclosure of past offenses of the priests of the Archdiocese.
Thank you for listening to my concern."
It is so sad that we have come to this.
Dear Archbishop Vigano’,
It is my understanding that you welcome letters of concern from the laity. I am very concerned about the compatibility of the current archbishop of the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese, his eminence, John Nienstedt and the flock to whom he has been assigned.
When I was in Rome, I was blessed by Pope John XXIII (who will be canonized on my 75th birthday) before I entered my senior year in college. I was greatly moved by his Vatican II initiatives and eagerly embraced the changes. Placing the mass in the vernacular, and encouraging greater participation of the laity, helped me convince my Lutheran fiance’ to join my church so that we could raise our children in the same faith. A faith that calls us to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to “love God and love one another.” That translates to me that we should be inclusive as Jesus was, and care for those less fortunate than ourselves as Jesus did.
Our current archbishop spent over $600,000. of donated monies on a political campaign to place language in our state constitution that would permanently restrict gays and lesbians from ever having the opportunity to marry. Even if one agreed with the premise, the state constitution is not meant to house these kind of restrictive clauses. 50% of his Catholic constituency voted against his campaign and as a result the campaign failed.
This money could have been spent to feed the poor and house the homeless. Many in our catholic communities are not sending any monies that might fall under the control of this archbishop but instead are sending checks directly to the agencies involved in the care and concern for the poorest among us.
Then there is the diocesan handling of cases of sexual abuse. There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding by the hierarchy of the difference between homosexuality, a phenomenon of nature, and pedophilia, the sexual exploitation of children, which is a heinous crime! Abusive priests have been shifted around from parish to parish within the diocese, continuing their misdeeds without being kicked out of the priesthood and facing the criminal charges that they deserve. All the abuse cases are not among priests attracted to persons of the same sex, either. In one case, a heterosexual priest engaged in sex with a co-worker, impregnated her and broke up her marriage. He was not defrocked but placed on the marriage tribunal which evaluates Catholic marriages! Maybe even the one he ruined! We have other priests who decided to marry and raise families without hurting anyone and they are not allowed to serve in the ministry. Where is the justice in this?
The role of women encouraged by Vatican II has also been greatly restricted by this archbishop. Women are not to be behind the altar in any capacity. These and other such actions have driven the youth, faithfully brought up Catholic, from the fold--my children and grandchildren included, which causes me great sadness.
To conclude, I would ask that there be a replacement of our current archbishop, John Nienstedt and that there be lay involvement and a voice in the selection of the next archbishop to serve our diocese. Thank you for welcoming letters from the laity and for attending to mine.
Among other Catholics, CCCR is asking Archbishop Nienstedt to step down from the leadership role in our local church. We are doing this because we do not see how the Archdiocese can be united in its mission under his leadership.
His statement in the Catholic Spirit on October 24 acknowledges with regard to the Archdiocesan policies on sexual abuse by priests: "There is reason to question whether or not the policies and procedures were uniformly followed. There is also a question as to the prudence of the judgments that have been made." Is the Archbishop saying he does not know the answers to these questions and that none of the imprudent judgments were his? Will the additional lawyers he is hiring find these answers? This kind of equivocation, whether or not it follows legal advice, undermines people's confidence that he will put the interests of vulnerable people before his own.
An underlying problem may be the Archbishop's insistence on only one point of view. He has been a strong champion of one way of being Catholic, a way that we also can respect. But by excluding loyal questioners and critics, a person with absolute authority can lose his/her ability to make sound prudential judgments. One concrete example of this exclusion is that Catholic groups with diverse ideas are not allowed to meet on church property and all speakers must be okayed at the Chancery. This kind of mind control can lead to a distorted view of reality.
To keep everyone honest, we need leadership that will, like Pope Francis, welcome diverse voices as expressing the Spirit of God.
We hope you will support a call for Archbishop Nienstedt's resignation by writing to him asking him to step down. His address is 226 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.
We are equally concerned about who will be the successor to Archbishop Nienstedt. Archbishops and bishops are recommended to the Vatican for appointment by the Papal Nuncio in each country. Our letter to the U.S. Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, asked him to seek recommendations for a leader from all the people of the Archdiocese--ordained and lay, as well as men and women religious. People are more likely to trust a leader in whose selection they have had a voice.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó's address is 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008. He has explicitly said he welcomes letters from individuals recommending names for bishop or archbishop.
Those of you who came to Synod 2013 may already have written. Please consider writing again.
This is a difficult time, but we are in hope for a future unified Archdiocese.