Archbishop Nienstedt under investigation: a brief update.

Two weeks ago, I reported that for the past several months, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been under investigation for "multiple allegations" of inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other adult men, according to those who were interviewed by the law firm conducting the inquiry. A couple of days after I posted that story, auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché--who is overseeing the investigation--sent an e-mail to the priests of the archdiocese, explaining that the timing of the release of that news was "not of my choosing," and that "whatever facts you will need to know about the investigation will be made known to you at the appropriate time." The bishop also told Twin Cities priests that he "was instructed by the firm conducting the investigation that the interviews must be carried out under the strictest confidence for the sake of the integrity of the investigation itself." Once the firm's report is complete, he wrote, "there will need to be some time to make an evaluation of those facts as to their credibility and import."

That raises several questions, which I posed to the archdiocese last week: Has Nienstedt been interviewed by the investigating law firm (hired by the archdiocese itself)? How is that firm being paid, and how much does it cost? When will the investigation conclude? Will the firm's final report be made public? And will the archdiocese send an unedited version of that report to the apostolic nuncio once it's completed?

In a written reply, Archbishop Nienstedt said that he did meet with the investigators, and that he "answered their questions to the best of my ability."

Later, Piché responded with another written statement. He explained that the archdiocese is paying for the investigation, but he did not tell me how much it costs. He also said that he did not know when the investigation will conclude. I asked whether the archdiocese will use the law firm's report to create another document that it will then share with Twin Cities priests, or whether it will share the whole report as it was originally written? I also asked whether  the report will be made public, or whether the archdiocese will release to the public certain "need to know" facts from the investigation? "It’s premature to answer these questions," the bishop replied.

As for the question of whether the papal nuncio will receive the report in its entirety, unedited, Piché wrote: "The nuncio will receive a complete report."

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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