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Report: Archbishop Nienstedt sought to limit investigation

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/21/15

From Catholic Culture: 

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who resigned his week from his post as Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, had earlier tried to limit an investigation into charges of personal misconduct that had been lodged against him, according to an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). MPR, which has been highly critical of Archbishop Nienstedt, reports that in April 2014, all of the archbishop’s top advisers encouraged him to step down. In fact, the report continues, two auxiliary bishops traveled to Washington, DC, to tell the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, that Archbishop Nienstedt should be replaced. In fact the archbishop remained in office for over a year. According to MPR, as independent investigation into the charges against Archbishop Nienstedt heated up, the scope of the investigation was abruptly curtailed. A second, separate investigation was later undertaken.

MPR explains: 

The story of Nienstedt’s efforts to limit the investigation comes from interviews with more than a dozen people in Minnesota, Michigan and Oregon with direct knowledge of the inquiry. They include four people who provided affidavits to investigators, current and former chancery officials, and other people who spoke with investigators over several months. Nienstedt could not be reached for an interview. He was last seen a week ago at a conference of bishops in St. Louis. And on the day of his resignation, he was absent. A spokesman for the archdiocese wouldn’t say where Nienstedt had gone or how to contact him. In an interview with MPR News in July 2014, Nienstedt said, “I’ve done nothing criminally wrong ever, and nothing immoral.” He characterized the investigation as independent. “I was told not to interfere with the procedures, and I have not interfered to this day,” he said. Piche told MPR News in an email last month that Nienstedt did not interfere in the investigation. When asked in a follow-up email whether anyone at the archdiocese had curtailed the investigation, Piche wouldn’t answer. “It would be a disservice to those involved to discuss specifics of the investigation at this time,” he wrote. Piche also could not be reached for an interview. Attorneys at Greene Espel — the Minneapolis law firm that conducted the first investigation — dispute the claim that Nienstedt did not interfere. “We strongly disagree with those statements. Greene Espel’s investigation and work will not be mischaracterized without a response by us,” attorneys Matt Forsgren and David Wallace-Jackson said in a written statement to MPR News on June 11.

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