US: Anti-gay Archbishop investigated over new allegations he ‘sexually touched’ men
A Minnesota Archbishop who has described homosexuality as “evil” is being investigated by the church over allegations of same-sex sexual misconduct.
Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis stands accused of sexual impropriety, following claims of inappropriately touching other men.
Following a report by Catholic magazine Commonweal, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis confirmed yesterday that it is overseeing an investigation into the allegations, some of which are said to have come from seminaries and priests.
Jennifer Haselberger, former canon lawyer for the archdiocese who last year blew the whistle on a sex abuse scandal within the church after the archbishop ignored her concerns, said the investigation relates to “about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop”.
She added that he “also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”
Archbishop Nienstedt has denied all the allegations, and said in a statement that he initiated the investigation himself, explaining: “It would be unfair to ignore these allegations simply because I know them to be false.”
Nienstedt added: “The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behaviour”
“The allegations involve events alleged to have occurred at least decade ago, before I began serving in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.”
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He dismissed the charges as a “personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage.”
Also in 2012, he warned a mother seeking acceptance for her gay son that her own “eternal salvation” was at stake if she did not encourage her son to accept Catholic teachings on homosexuality.
As far back as 2006, then-Bishop Nienstedt wrote a column criticising the film ‘Brokeback Mountain’, in which he warned that Hollywood had “turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive”.
In December, the archbishop stepped down from public ministry during a police investigation into a complaint that he had touched a boy’s buttocks following a confirmation ceremony in 2009.
He returned to his post in March when the case was closed with no charges filed, although the case was subsequently reopened.
The findings of the current investigation will be reported to the Pope’s ambassador to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.