Pastor calls for new leadership in Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis


A pastor of a large Twin Cities parish is publicly questioning whether Rev. John Nienstedt should continue as the Archbishop of the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis amid a growing priest sex abuse scandal.

Rev. Bill Deziel, who heads the Church of St. Peter in North St. Paul used his church's Sunday bulletin to call for a "do over" of diocesan leadership. Deziel said "When things get this bad sometimes a fresh start is needed for all involved."

In addition, a St. Paul attorney, Thomas Lyons, has begun an online petition drive calling for Nienstedt's resignation. Lyons said that Nienstedt can no longer fulfill the duties of his office.

MinnPost reports that Deziel is also asking for the release of the names of the 33 priests the archdiocese believes have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. Deziel says, "Other dioceses including Chicago, Los Angeles, Tuscon and Baltimore have done this and its time for us to do it as well."

The Star Tribune reports that Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso said that Nienstedt will address clergy sexual misconduct in his column in the Catholic Spirit, which will be available online on Thursday.

October has been filled with resignations amongst Catholic church leadership already. Nienstedt's top vicar general, the Rev. Peter Laird, resigned first, and also former Archbishop Harry Flynn and his former top deputy the Rev. Kevin McDonough both abruptly left the University of St. Thomas board.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the archdiocese is also putting off plans to move forward with its $160 million capital campaign over the next four years. Church leaders had told parish priests they intended to move forward with the campaign as recently as September, but according to Accurso the final decision has been put on pause with the intention of revisiting it again in January.

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