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Nienstedt Says Mistakes Were Made, Offers Apology

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt acknowledged Thursday that “serious mistakes” have been made in how he’s handled allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. It’s his strongest wording yet over the ongoing scandal rocking the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Archbishop wrote his thoughts in the Catholic Spirit newspaper, titled “My Pledge to Restore Trust.”

In one sentence he writes, “with genuine sorrow, I apologize to all those who have been victimized, whether on my watch or not.”

In the lengthy column Nienstedt acknowledges that questions remain, specifically over policies and procedures used by the Archdiocese to identify and prevent clergy sexual misconduct.

“There is also a question as to the prudence of the judgments that have been made,” he wrote.

In recent weeks, the church has being hit by a new wave of priest sexual abuse allegations and whether Catholic hierarchy ignored warning signs.

Church member Tom Lyons has become a harsh critic of the Archbishop, even calling for him to step down.

“He writes can we do better? Do better? He’s been here 7 years, he should have done better the first day!” Lyons said.

Lyons, an attorney and devout Catholic, is so outraged by the misconduct allegations and alleged cover-up that he’s launched a campaign calling for Nienstedt’s resignation. He is asking others to sign an on-line petition on the website, Change.org.

“What is the response to someone who has failed, other than to resign?” Lyons said.

Nienstedt vows that a new independent task force will identify where the mistakes have been made and suggest ways to correct them.

Bob Schwiderski was abused by a priest as a child. Today, as state director of SNAP, which represents similar victims, he says another task force isn’t what’s needed.

“We don’t need independent people without subpoena power. We need law enforcement looking at potential crimes. We don’t need independent people picked by him,” Schwiderski adds.

Requests to speak with Niensted or an Archdiocese representative were declined.

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