Resigned Archbishop John Nienstedt is denying the accusations that appear in affidavits by priests.
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One month ago, Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned after his archdiocese was charged with the coverup of child sex abuse by a priest. The embattled 68-year old Catholic leader had also been under investigation for inappropriate sexual relations with men. That investigation concluded last summer, yet the results were never made public.
The Star Tribune, in an article published Sunday, reports it "has learned that investigators collected affidavits from priests, former seminarians and a former priest alleging actions, some dating to the Detroit area in the early 1980s, that range from inappropriate touching to visiting a gay nightclub."
Former Archbishop Nienstedt says he is "dumbfounded" and calls the allegations "far-fetched and utterly untrue."
Those allegations include sworn statements by "five Catholic priests, one former priest and a former seminarian," all of whom reportedly know and/or worked with Nienstedt.
“I recall seeing John — and there is no doubt in my mind that it was him based on my prior interactions with him — at the Happy Tap,” Rev. Lawrence Ventline wrote in an affidavit, referring to a gay bar in Ontario. “He appeared to wave me off as I was coming — and I backed off because I did not want impose on him.”
The Star Tribune also reports an "affidavit from a Michigan priest said that Nienstedt pulled up to his car in an area frequented by gay men one December in the early 1980s and asked him if he had any 'poppers,' an inhalant used by gay men to enhance sexual pleasure."
Another sworn statement by a former seminary student claims Nienstedt expelled him for refusing to join Nienstedt and other seminarians at a ski chalet in the 1980's.
And another, the Star Tribune notes, alleges that Nienstedt touched the buttocks of now-former student Joseph Rangitsch, who wrote that when he protested Nienstedt told him he could "make things unpleasant" for him "very quickly."
Nienstedt denies all the allegations, and to some offered responses, including that he was not in town during the dates in question. He also says he believes some are “retribution” for his positions on social issues.
“Certain groups in Detroit began spreading untrue rumors about me following difficult decisions I made as the rector of the Detroit seminary and as an Auxiliary Bishop,” Nienstedt said. “Some priests in Detroit also vehemently disagreed with my positions and decisions.”
John Nienstedt for years has waged war on the LGBT community. In 2010 he became well-known nationwide after spamming hundreds of thousands of Minnesota families by sending them anti-gay marriage DVDs without their asking or approval.
In 2012, advocating for an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in his home state of Minnesota, Nienstedt claimed it was "not intended to be hurtful or discriminatory to anyone." That same year it was reported Nienstedt had spent $650,000 of the Roman Catholic Church's funds to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.
Image: Screenshot via MnCatholic/YouTube