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Catholics Gather At Cathedral To Protest Archbishop Nienstedt

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Dozens of members of the Catholic Church are calling for a change in local leadership.

Nearly 100 people gathered outside the Cathedral of St. Paul on Saturday, calling for Archbishop John Nienstedt’s resignation.

They’re angry about past accusations of sexual abuse by clergy members that became public within the last few weeks.

Eric Fought of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform says he’s looking for renewed faith in church leadership.

“It’s up to us as the laity to step forward and say ‘enough is enough,’” Fought said.

Those who showed up are upset over recent revelations of sex abuse and a potential cover up.

But, for Shawn Plocher, it’s personal.

“I was abused by a person of God, in God’s house. I was abused in the church,” Plocher said.

Abused at the age of 13, Plocher says he’s spent his life fighting for justice that never came.

“It’s been a cover up…and this has been going on for a very long time,” he said.

Plocher is adamant that the only opportunity for change in the resignation of Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“It’s time for some profound action, and the action that the archbishop needs to take is to step aside,” Fought said.

But while about 100 people want him to step down, others have a different view. The Twin Cities is home to 825,000 Catholics, the majority were not at Saturday’s gathering. One of those people is Lorena Dillon.

“I think the archbishop has done a remarkable job,” Dillon said. “I don’t think he needs to resign. I wouldn’t call for that myself. I support him and what he’s doing. I don’t think he’s shied away from that responsibility at all.”

Saturday’s call for new leadership went unanswered, leaving many like Paula Ruddy to feel as if they’re in a fractured church.

“It will be divided until he does go somewhere,” Ruddy said.

Archbishop Nienstedt released the following statement on Saturday.

It is my most sincere hope that the commitments and actions that my leadership team and I are taking, and will continue to take, will restore trust with our communities.

We take these matters very seriously and will continue to share more information in the coming weeks regarding our actions to create and maintain safe environments. Nothing is more important.

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