Catholic Coalition for Church Reform Votes No Confidence in the Leadership of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
Progressive Catholic Voice
October 24, 2013
Despite his statements of October 24 in The Catholic Spirit, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) has urged Archbishop John C. Nienstedt to step down from his role as head of the Saint Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese in a letter to him dated October 24, 2013.
At its meeting of October 16, 2013, the board of CCCR resolved to write to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican delegate to the U.S., stating its vote of no confidence in the leadership of the Archbishop. The Vatican delegate, whose office is at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, is charged with recommending episcopal appointments to the Vatican.
Also in its letter, CCCR sought recognition for lay consultation in selection of the archdiocese’s next bishop, whenever that happens. They asked the papal delegate “to seek recommendations from all the people of the Archdiocese—ordained and lay, as well as men and women religious—in the matter of a successor Archbishop or any bishops appointed hereafter.”
The letter to Archbishop Vigano was held pending the Archbishop’s statement in the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, October 24, then copied to Archbishop Nienstedt with the letter asking him to resign.
The CCCR letter to the Papal Nuncio said the board was acting “in a spirit of obedience to duty and in concert with church law. As faithful Catholics of the Archdiocese, we recognize and honor our baptismal duty to convey to our ordained leadership our ‘opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church’ and to make this opinion ‘known to the rest of the Christian faithful.’” (Canon 212 §3).
In the letter the board listed several factors leading to its decision. “Sadly, a significant number of Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis do not accept the leadership of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.” The archbishop’s statement acknowledges a lack of confidence in his leadership.
The letter cited several longstanding concerns about Archbishop Nienstedt’s leadership.
“This failure in pastoral leadership is evidenced by a number of factors, including his unwillingness to dialogue with Catholics on their legitimate concerns, his dismissive letters in response to individuals and groups who have questioned his agenda and priorities or suggested plans to promote the mission of the Church. There are numerous anecdotal reports of people refusing to contribute financially to the Archdiocese and people leaving the Catholic Church as a result of loss of trust in leadership.”
The letter states that “The Archbishop black-lists life-long Catholics who question his teaching and forbids speakers and meetings on church property.” People on the church payroll have said they “stay under the radar.”
The culminating factor in loss of trust are the current reports of his handling of sexual misconduct by priests: “Recently trust has been further eroded by reports of poor judgment in handling, perhaps even criminal mishandling, of a number of recent cases involving both known sexually abusing priests and highly suspect ones.”
CCCR expresses “grave concerns that the pastoral needs of the archdiocese will be compromised by the amount of time, energy and money that Archbishop Nienstedt will expend as he defends himself and his previous actions in the ongoing sexual abuse and cover-up crisis. Even if criminal charges are not brought against the Archbishop or members of his administration, their judgments about priests’ “fitness for ministry” will be continually in question.”