One of the nation's most active and notorious anti-gay crusaders, Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt, reportedly is under investigation by his own diocese for sexual misconduct with other men, including other priests.
John Nienstedt has a long and dark history of not only opposing marriage equality, but of actively investing a reported $650,000 of the Roman Catholic Church's funds to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. It could easily be said of the nation's most active anti-gay crusaders, he's on a top ten list. Before the 2010 election, the 67-year old Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul spammed 400,000 Minnesota homes with unrequested anti-gay DVDs in a failed attempt to get voters to ban same-sex marriage. Not only did his efforts fail, but lawmakers actually later ushered in marriage equality.
Undeterred, last year Nienstedt claimed that "Satan" is "the source" of same-sex marriage. He also told the mother of a gay man she could go to hell if she did not embrace the Church's teachings on homosexuality.
But now, Commonweal Magazine reports that Nienstedt own diocese is investing him for sexual misconduct with other men, including priests, having received ten signed and sworn letters of accusation.
Nienstedt denies the allegations, claiming, "I have never engaged in sexual misconduct and certainly have not made any sexual advances toward anyone." he also artfully spun the charges in a statement, according to the Atlantic Wire. "The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior."
Commonweal offers some background on Nienstedt.
Nienstedt was named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1996, and became bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota, in 2001. Just six years later he was appointed coadjutor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He was installed as archbishop in 2008. Before long, Nienstedt had established one of the signature issues of his episcopate: homosexuality. His statements on that issue add controversy to the investigation of his own behavior.
"Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts...formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin," Nienstedt wrote late in 2007. That echoed a column he wrote the year beforeâ€”while bishop of New Ulmâ€”cautioning Catholics against watching Brokeback Mountain, a film about two married cowboys who fall for one another. He wondered whether Hollywood knew just how dangerous their "agenda" was: "Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive."
In 2009, Nienstedt temporarily stepped down from his post after being caused of inappropriate contact with a young boy in 2009. He was not charged in the case.
Nienstedt's statement on the allegations today ends with this sentence: "Let us pray that the truth will come out as a result of the investigation."
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