ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Archbishop John Nienstedt has been on the forefront of the clergy sex abuse scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church for the better part of 30 years.
“This is a beginning of a reckoning,” St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson said.
From his St. Paul law offices, flanked by two men who survived priest sex abuse, Anderson called it a global crisis that is finally beginning to change.
He called Monday’s resignations of the Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche as a sign from Rome that the Vatican is ready to start moving forward and repair past wrongs.
“The resignations forced under pressure and accepted by the Vatican demonstrate an incremental realization that they have to do something,” Anderson said.
The lawyer is representing Al Michaud and Jim Keenan, both of whom were abused by their priests as young boys.
Michaud admits the resignations caught him totally by surprise.
“I got the blip on my phone and went, wow, that’s huge,” he said.
Michaud is among 12 alleged victims of Father Jerome Kern, who he said was moved by leaders at the Archdiocese between at least six different parishes over the years.
Michaud faults both Nienstadt and the man who oversaw abuse cases for the church, Father Kevin McDonough, in covering for Kern until just two years ago.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about justice,” Michaud said. “My perpetrator is out there living in an apartment in Edina, living fine, living happy. How many kids did he abuse and why did the church let that happen?”
Keenan said he is relieved by the resignations at the top, but says it’s just a start for the healing needed in the Roman Catholic Church.
“I am not trying to blow apart a church. I don’t want to see them come down. I want to see a safe environment for those people who get a lot of life out of it,” Keenan said.