That didn’t last long. Details:
Parishioners at St. Philip Catholic Church here learned Thursday morning that the controversial Archbishop John Nienstedt has left Battle Creek, just two weeks into what was to be a six-months-long stay. Nienstedt resigned last summer from his archdiocese in Minneapolis-St. Paul after it was slapped with civil and criminal charges that church leaders had failed to protect children there by covering up and failing to report suspicions of sex abuse by clergy. Nienstedt quietly arrived in Michigan Jan. 6 to help St. Philip pastor Rev. John Fleckenstein, who has been ill, an arrangement made between the two of them, long-time friends. The Diocese of Kalamazoo had OKed Nienstedt’s work here, saying it had received documentation from his superiors that he was a priest in good standing and had no pending allegations against him. But when parents, community members and victims of clergy sex crimes learned of the arrangement, many vigorously protested the placement of a man accused of covering up clergy sex abuse in his archdiocese; a priest in Minneapolis-St. Paul has been convicted of molesting three boys, and criminal charges against the archdiocese are ongoing. Media attention to Nienstedt’s new location from mainstrean and Catholic media was swift and far-reaching. The story was reported Wednesday in the national online publication The Daily Beast. In a letter to parishioners dated Thursday, Jan. 21, Fleckenstein said that given the uproar, the decision to leave was mutual.