Pope accepts resignations of St. Paul archbishop, auxiliary

From Cindy Wooden at the CNS Rome bureau:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ten days after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged with failing to protect children, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche.

Pope Francis appointed Newark Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt  (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

The resignations were announced by the Vatican June 15; on June 5, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office filed charges against the archdiocese alleging it had contributed to the harm of three minors sexually abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer.

The charges, six gross misdemeanors, were three counts of contributing to the need for protection or services for a minor and three counts of contributing to a minor’s status as a juvenile petty offender or delinquency.

Archbishop Nienstedt, 68, has led the archdiocese since May 2008. In a statement, he said, “In order to give the archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation.”

“The Catholic Church is not our church, but Christ’s church, and we are merely stewards for a time,” the archbishop said. “My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of his church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down.”

Bishop Piche, 57, also issued a statement. He said the people of the archdiocese “need healing and hope. I was getting in the way of that, and so I had to resign.”

“I submitted my resignation willingly, after consultation with others in and outside the archdiocese,” said the bishop, who had served as an auxiliary in the Twin Cities since 2009.

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

In his statement, Archbishop Hebda noted that the position of an apostolic administrator is temporary and his role “is not to introduce change, but rather to facilitate the smooth continuation of the ordinary and essential activities of the church, while advancing those positive initiatives to which the archdiocese is already committed.”

Still, he said, he hoped to meet as many people as possible in the archdiocese while still fulfilling his responsibilities in Newark.

“As the universal church prepares to embark on a Year of Mercy, I look forward to getting to know this local church and experiencing in a new context the marvelous ways in which the Lord works through his people to make his grace and healing presence known and felt, even in the most challenging of times,” Archbishop Hebda said.

9 Responses

  1. Some of the difficulty faced by the archbishop stems from his more conservative leadership of his diocese.. May his replacement also be a person whose perspective is something of a challenge to the liberal orthodoxy that characterizes some dioceses and sections of the country.

  2. Addendum: I’m sure that some would like to see Cardinal Burke return to this country and exercise pastoral ministry. St.Paul is a part of the country he knows well, having grown up nearby in Wisconsin.

  3. This kind of story breaks my heart. I worked with teens for over 25 years and 3 out 4 girls had been sexually abused, usually by a family member/friend. I have zero tolerance for adults taking advantage of children. Having said that I also realize that it takes skills (which can be taught) to recognize not just one incident but also a pattern of suspicious behaviour. I pray that dioceses would work closer together with local police departments to seek specialized training which would work in everyone’s favor.
    I pray daily for all of our clergy and religious that they will be models of virtue for the laity.

  4. Cardinal Burke would not be happy in M-SP. They are much too open-minded cities. Orange County, CA is more to his liking.

  5. Don’t know what you mean by “open-minded.” I know that the term in liberal-speak means “There are no rules except those set by myself.”

  6. Thanks for sharing, Duane. Open-mindedness is is not liberal-speak. It’s English. And it means people who are open to listening to other opinions other than their own. Often when they do that, they change their opinion and feel more mature and in ownership of their own new opinion. It’s what Jesus of Nazareth did with those who were attaching him for being close minded. All the best, Leo.

  7. Cindy, thanks for replying. I agree with your thinking about the term “open-mindedness,” but I maintain this is not the operating definition for liberals, generally. Take note that Archbishop Nienstedt was in trouble with the Catholic liberals even before the abuse problem was exposed. Take note as well how Catholic precincts vote in federal elections.

  8. Open mindedness IS liberal speak for “accept progressive ideas”. When one disagrees with the progressive idea, it is then, that they are labeled ” closed minded” . Progressivism/American Liberalism is either a lack of maturity at best, but probably just evil

  9. Until our Caholic hierarchs distance themselves from the “progressive” party, they will be nothing more than a tool for that party.
    I’m reminded of what little good the hierarchy had to say about Bush 43 despite his refusal to permit federal funding of abortion, despite the amount of foreign aid he directed to poor countries.
    Of course, we know the silence from the purple-clad during the two election cycles beginning in 2008 despite what conservatives in the media had to offer as documented evidence about the one who was elected.
    The liberals are not about “helping the poor.” We have nearly 50 years of evidence to give the lie to their claims.

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