Archbishop Nienstedt Denies Allegations: ‘I Am Not Bigoted’
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis says he will not resign and insists the Church has turned a corner with new policies to better address allegations of sexual abuse by priests.
John Nienstedt is doing a series of interviews about the abuse scandal and he also is answering questions about recently surfaced allegations that he was involved in sexually inappropriate relationships with men.
While talking with WCCO’s Esme Murphy, Nienstedt denied ever having any kind of inappropriate relationships with men. He said he expects to be cleared of the allegations eventually.
The interview comes after law firm Green Espel has concluded its investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct.
Archbishop Nienstedt says he has read the report, but he refused to talk about the findings saying the investigation is ongoing and out of his hands.
He did say when it comes to handling abuse claims the Archdiocese has turned a corner.
He said he did not think it would be better for the Archdiocese if he resigned.
“I think we have the momentum going now. If I were to resign at this point, that would be a break in that momentum,” he said.
While Nienstedt says new policies are in place, he also defended his handling of past cases.
“Well, I want people to know that I have never covered up any clergy abuse and I will not,” he said.
Nienstedt also defended his appointment of Father Curtis Wehmeyer to a St. Paul church, even though he knew young men had complained that Wehmeyer had solicited them for sex.
In 2012 Wehmeyer was convicted of molesting two young boys from the parish. Nienstedt said he thought treatment had changed Wehmeyer.
“He had taken the cure. He was getting spiritual direction,” he said. “We knew that he was same sex attracted, but I never in my wildest imagination thought he would be attracted to young minors.”
He also reiterated his opposition to same sex marriage and his campaign in favor of the 2012 amendment that would have banned gay marriage
“Being same sex attracted is not sinful, but it’s acting on those impulses yes. It’s the behavior,”
He says he does not know why allegations of same sex sexual misconduct have surfaced against him. When asked if he is gay, Nienstedt said he was not.
“No, I am not gay,” he said.
Nienstedt also stressed that he is not anti-gay, that in his words every man and woman is a child of God.
And he also said he would like people to know that he is a decent human being.
The report by the law firm investigating allegations made against Nienstedt of sexually inappropriate relationships will not be made public. When the report is done, Nienstedt said he is read it. He would not share any of the report’s conclusions.
Both the archbishop and the archdiocese said the investigation into the allegations is ongoing.
You can watch the entirety of Esme Murphy’s interview with the archbishop in the videos above and below.
Watch Part One of WCCO’s full interview with Archbishop John Nienstedt here.
Watch Part Two of the full interview here.