After much stonewalling, the archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul finally testified in a four-hour court deposition on April 2 about his role in managing child sex abuse cases, and his comments can only be described as damning.
Archbishop John Nienstedt claimed to have no knowledge that known child sexual abusers were working under his nose during his current six-year tenure, claimed to have delegated all duties surrounding allegations and follow-up of child sex abuse cases, admitted to actively hiding information of priests suspected of child abuse, and even admitted that his diocese had never handed over to law enforcement authorities a single complete case file.
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys is accusing Nienstedt of lying under oath. “We have a serious pattern of deceit and deception by this archbishop and his predecessors,” Jeff Anderson says, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Throughout the contentious questioning, Nienstedt portrayed himself as a leader who relied on others to handle the clergy sexual abuse crisis. He professed little knowledge of the scandal within his archdiocese and said he assumed it was safe for children. Nienstedt said it “didn’t occur” to him to ask for a list of abusive priests when he arrived in 2007 and that he didn’t review any clergy files. He said he did not know that one priest had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy in the 1980s or that another was receiving secret disability payments for pedophilia. Several of his statements are contradicted by internal documents obtained by MPR News.
“Typically, I’m a hands-on person, but I have to delegate responsibilities,” Nienstedt testified.
“Do you think you’re doing a good job?” Anderson said.
“I believe I am, yes,” Nienstedt said.
“When Nienstedt became archbishop in 2008, he said he had a briefing with key archdiocese officials about clergy abuse,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. “He testified he didn’t remember any names of abusive priests mentioned at the time, how many were being monitored, and even the names of the archdiocese officials present.”
Archbishop Nienstedt has been one of the loudest anti-gay voices in the Catholic Church in America. He has claimed “Satan” is the source of same-sex marriage, he spammed hundreds of thousands of Minnesota residents with an anti-gay marriage DVD sent through the U.S. mail, and yet had the audacity to claim his attempts to ban same-sex marriage were “not intended to be hurtful.”
Below, the video of Archbishop Nienstedt’s testimony (complete), and the actual text from his deposition:
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.