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Nienstedt sorry he's lost confidence of parishoners; vows to fix problems

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Archbishop John Nienstedt says he's sorry he's lost the confidence of parishoners and priests amid the controversy over clergy sexual misconduct.

But Nienstedt also tells MPR in an email that there are no offenders in active ministry. He also writes that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has not engaged in any cover-up and says he's committed to finding the truth and fixing the problems that exist.

Nienstedt's response was his first to the news media since a former employee of the archdiocese asserted publicly that the church did not do enough to remove priests suspected of sexual misconduct. Former canon lawyer Jennifer Haselberger told the Associated Press this week that she wished she'd done more. The Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, one of the priests at the center of Haselberger's concerns, is now serving a prison sentence for molesting two boys.

Haselberger also provided police and media with evidence that a priest in Hugo may have had child pornography on his computer, and that the matter was the subject of an internal debate in the archdiocese in 2004.

In his email to MPR, Nienstedt writes that some of the images that concerned Haselberger came from pop-up ads that appeared without the priest's knowledge or consent.

In other news, the Star Tribune obtained documents that show the archdiocese spent nearly $11 million from 2003 through 2012 on matters directly associated with sexual abuse and other priest misconduct.

Last Sunday, a North St. Paul priest wrote in a church bulletin that it may be time for a "do over" when it comes to the leadership of the archdiocese.

In a separate story Wednesday, MPR looked at how the misconduct cases may affect the finances of the archdiocese.

Nienstedt is expected to address the issue of sexual misconduct by clergy in his column in the archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, which will be posted online Thursday.

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