BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Catholic official accused of covering up sexual misconduct will start working at St. Philip Parish in Battle Creek.
According to the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Archbishop Emeritus John Nienstedt volunteered to help Father John, who has ‘ongoing serious health challenges.’ The Diocese of Kalamazoo said Nienstedt moved to Battle Creek on Jan. 6. He’s expected to stay in Battle Creek for approximately six months.
Nienstedt resigned from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis last year after several accusations and charges of covering up sexual misconduct surfaced. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Nienstedt’s archdiocese became first in the nation to be charged with failure to “protect children.”
“One of the priests in his archdiocese in Minneapolis is in prison now for molesting kids in that diocese and he concealed that. This is the first archdiocese to have criminal charges against them for concealing child sex abuse. As a result of that, he resigned from that archdiocese,” said Bill McAlary, a Michigan leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
SNAP is calling on Pope Francis to denounce Nienstedt’s move.
“Why would the Catholic church do this? It’s ridiculous. And why would the parishioners accept it?” Questioned McAlary.
In a recent church bulletin, Father John wrote:
“Over the next few months, I envision times that I will need assistance either for health reasons or that I may complete a couple of major projects for the Diocese in my role as Episcopal Vicar for Education. Thus, I will have some help for the next six months or so. Archbishop John Nienstedt, retired Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul will be joining us to assist in various pastoral ministries during his time.”
The bulletin also states that Nienstedt will celebrate some of the weekend and weekday masses and visit the sick in the hospital.
“Why would somebody in this position accused of this crime in this archdiocese be able to go back and work someplace else as a priest and expose these children that everybody wants to protect? Was it for the good of the people in Kalamazoo that he’s repositioned there? Can they feel safe now? Why take the risk?” McAlary told 24 Hour News 8.
The Diocese of Kalamazoo, which also stated Nienstedt had retired, released this statement regarding the situation on Wednesday:
“The Diocese of Kalamazoo is committed to providing safe environments for all people. As is the case for any priest or bishop ministering in the Diocese, Archbishop Emeritus Nienstedt begins his temporary ministry at St. Philip Parish as a priest in good standing, having met the Church’s stringent standards required to attain that status. As such he is welcome in the Diocese of Kalamazoo for the several months that he will be available to offer supplemental sacramental ministry to the people of St. Philip Parish.”
In 2014 statement about the misconduct allegations, Niensted said “These allegations are absolutely and entirely false.”
Nienstedt also said he ordered a thorough investigation from an independent, outside firm.
“The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior. The allegations involve events alleged to have occurred at least a decade ago, before I began serving in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” he also stated.
Nienstedt has not been convicted of a crime.
He previously served as a Pastor of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak from 1994-1996 and then was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit. He was then named the Bishop of New Ulm, MN and the Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the St. Philip Parish bulletin.—Online:SNAP