Archbishop Nienstedt (foreground)
Theology professors from the University of St. Thomas join the critics of Archbishop Nienstedt.
Warning of a 'pastoral breakdown' in the Archdiocese, the professors add fuel to the contention that the Archbishop should resign, because of the sex abuse scandals and how these have been handled by the archdiocese. Perhaps there's a personnel problems which acerbates the situation? In other words, maybe Nienstedt is not the problem? After all, he is working to restore confidence - maybe his critics don't want it restored?
Right from there were people in this archdiocese who were not happy with the appointment of Archbishop Nienstedt. Local pastors who call for his resignation included - and now the theologians have joined in. Is it a conspiracy? I'm not sure. Although I'm very much reminded of the anti-clericalism leading up to the French Revolution when I read stories such as this - which resonate with the complaints made by certain pastors within the archdiocese who have already called for the Archbishop's resignation:
A group of theology professors from the largest Catholic university in Minnesota penned an open letter to the archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, lamenting ongoing revelations of clergy sex abuse and “also to the manner in which these scandals have been handled.”
Addressed to Archbishop John Nienstedt, under fire for allegedly mishandling reports of clergy sex abuse, twelve tenured faculty members of St. Thomas University wrote, “Recent events have shown how badly the pastoral leadership of the Archdiocese has failed” to respond to the pastoral needs of Catholics there.
The group stopped short of calling for Nienstedt’s resignation, writing that they “remain committed to working and praying for the good of the whole archdiocese, including its pastoral leadership.”
“The harsh light now being shone on the inner governance of the Archdiocese makes clear that the problems are not merely personal,” the authors wrote. “They are systemic, the product of a long-standing and deeply entrenched clericalism that does not have to be the corollary of the ordained priestly ministry.” - Finish reading here.
The suggestions for 'recovery' in the archdiocese proposed by the theologians are not at all unreasonable however:
The theologians suggest ways for Nienstedt and his team to “proposals that may open a path toward recovery from the pastoral breakdown we are witnessing,” such as a series of town hall-style meetings at parishes, stepping away from direct involvement in legal proceedings, and engaging more lay people in church governance.The Archbishop has started that, employing Timothy O’Malley, the former head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to fill a leadership position created by the archdiocese in response to the wave of clergy abuse allegations in the past year. This is a signal the Archbishop is working to restore confidence - perhaps he's not moving fast enough for his critics? Give him a chance and support him in his efforts.
That said, I'm not sure "engaging more lay people in church governance" holds great promise. It seems to me there are plenty of laity involved as it is. I think we need more priests and religious, but who will be attracted to religious life when they witness such division and lack of support among church people? And what priest would ever consent to being a bishop in such a negative culture?
Pray. Pray for the Church and the Archbishop. Pray for vocations.
H/T Ray and Maria.