It wasn't long ago that Archbishop John Nienstedt was accused of touching a boy's buttocks during a very public Confirmation photo op. One would have thought that if there was any substance to the charges, the evidence would have been captured dozens of times over by parents armed with a multitude of cameras.
Almost four years after the confirmation, an incident report was filed with the police. Now, after an extensive and public investigation, photographic evidence, witness statements and all other evidence proved the utter impossibility of the allegation.—Deacon Keith Fournier, 3/13/2014. Catholic Online.
Is Ms. Haselbeger's gripe fuelled by an inflated sense of self importance and a need for recognition for a role she performed in tackling the scourge of clergy abuse of minors? Ms. Haselberger resigned her position "in protest" after the Archdiocese contracted a prominent law firm to conduct an investigation of Nienstedt's former staff and associates. The terms of her resignation have not been disclosed. No one has thus far probed deeply enough to exclude the possibility that her anger and frustration might be due to being caught for something inappropriate she did that was seen as less than constructive by the lawyers and the Nienstedt administration. Why has a trained canonist, albeit one who is frustrated by alleged obstacles to the administration of justice, tossed her complaints into the mainstream media when she could have gone to any local prosecutor or state attorney general with her concerns? Does the fact she has chosen to make her case in the media seriously undermines her own credibility? If she really has the evidence that she claims to possess, why not take it to the authorities and let them handle matters? As it is, her actions give the appearance she is only interested in serving her self. Is she more interested in being lauded as Jane-the-Giant-Killer than being praised as a faithful steward of the facts?
Ms. Haselberger's frustration, as portrayed by sympathetic media, seems to have fuelled in her a willingness to characterize accusations as foregone conclusions that are having the intended or unintended effect of poisoning Archbishop Nienstedt's reputation. When it comes to fair play, let it be said that those with an axe to grind are often blinded by the glint of the blade as they swing it wildly in the air not caring who or how many they injure in the process.
"Based on my interview with Greene Espel (the law firm contracted by Archbishop Nienstedt to conduct a review of diocesan proceedings)—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(.)"
If you can spare a prayer for the embattled Archbishop, please do so. Archbishop Nienstedt has repeatedly appealed to others' sense of decency and integrity while being denied a fair assessment of the facts. Even if a worse case scenario develops, i.e., Archbishop Nienstedt is proven to have acted in an inappropriate manner, his good work in defence of the Faith will not be diminished. Those "faithful Catholics" who are calling for Archbishop Nienstedt's resignation and/or removal should remember that he has only stood for Catholic teaching. If they have a problem with the Church's teaching, they should remove themselves before they dig at the alleged plank in Archbishop Nienstedt's eye.
Bishops are convenient targets. In this day and age when people seem far too eager to buy into mere gossip lobbed at public leaders by disgruntled former associates, there is little one can do to counter personal attacks but to let things run their course and let the diatribe of the chattering classes be exhausted due to lack of fuel. That, and one should insist that due process and professionalism be observed. Accusers should seriously rethink their reasons for engaging in smear tactics and campaigns to undermine the character of one's peers lest they leave themselves open to a charge of being nothing more than an adult version of a grade school bully. Teenagers are not the only ones using social media to bully their peers.
Saint Michael, mighty seraph: pray for Archbishop Nienstedt.
UPDATE July 31st: STAR TRIBUNE article: CLICK HERE
Archbishop Nienstedt not stepping down.
Counsel from Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery:
In summary, there are four major points we should draw from Scripture and the Church Fathers:
- Obey the bishops, even if we disagree with their approach. Many of the issues dividing Catholics are ones on which people can take different views in good conscience. On these issues, we can have our own opinions, but when the rubber hits the road, we should obey the bishops. This includes, at a bare minimum, not undermining what the bishops are doing. That undermining is the behavior that tears at the Body of Christ, and that Ignatius denounces as the work of the devil.
- Obey the Gospel, even if an authority teaches otherwise. While we should exercise complete obedience towards the bishops, this doesn't mean doing something contrary the Gospel. As the Church explained in Dignitatis Humane, “In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.” To simplify: if a person in authority over you (be they a parent, boss, president, priest, or bishop) tells you to do something stupid, you should do it. But if they tell you to do something evil, you must not. In a secular context, this means that you should pay your income tax (Mk. 12:17), but not comply with the HHS Mandate.
- Treat the bishops with respect. Acts 23:1-5 is worth reading carefully. St. Paul is taken before the Sanhedrin, and protests his innocence. The high priest orders him to be slapped in the mouth, and St. Paul responds, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (Acts 23:3). Those around Paul seem shocked by this, and ask, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” (Acts 23:4). Then, something amazing happens. Paul apologizes, explaining that he didn't realize that the man who gave the order was the high priest: “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people’” (Acts 23:5; Paul is quoting Exodus 22:28). Once he knew who he was dealing with, Paul refused to speak disrespectfully to the high priest -- even though the high priest ordered him slapped in the mouth. And we today cannot even afford to be respectful to our own bishops?
- Pray for religious and secular leadership. President Obama needs our prayers. So does Congress. So do bishops, priests, and deacons. We're called to pray for them at every Mass, but we should do so even more frequently. The worse the bishop or politician seems to be, the more they need your prayers. Plus, if what we believe about prayer is true, this will do a lot more good than simply kvetching about them on the Internet.