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Former Minnesota archbishop linked to abuse scandal comes to Michigan

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The former archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is coming to Battle Creek.

John Nienstedt resigned from the Twin Cities archdiocese last summer, as county prosecutors alleged the church had failed to protect children from clergy sex abuse during his tenure.

St. Philip Roman Catholic Church’s newsletter says Nienstedt once worked as a pastor in Royal Oak and Detroit.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued this written statement:

“The Diocese of Kalamazoo is committed to providing safe environments for all people. As is the case for any priest or bishop ministering in the Diocese, Archbishop Emeritus Nienstedt begins his temporary ministry at St. Philip Parish as a priest in good standing, having met the Church’s stringent standards required to attain that status. As such he is welcome in the Diocese of Kalamazoo for the several months that he will be available to offer supplemental sacramental ministry to the people of St. Philip Parish.”

The Diocesse of Kalamazoo says Nienstedt volunteered to help the Battle Creek parish while the pastor undergoes treatment for epilepsy.

TwinCities.com reports prosecutors announced a settlement in the civil case last month. The criminal case is still pending.

Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche resigned on June 15 -- a rare occurrence in the Catholic hierarchy. The announcement came 10 days after the Ramsey County attorney's office filed criminal charges and civil claims against the archdiocese, alleging that church officials -- including Nienstedt, 68, and Piche, 57 -- protected a predatory priest. The archdiocese also had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last January, citing an operating deficit and pending clergy sex abuse lawsuits.

“From our point of view, it comes down to one simple, simple question. Which is, why take the risk?” David Clohessy asked. Clohessy headsSNAP, a support groups for people abused by priests.

“While all of these allegations are fresh and pending and ongoing, he does not belong in a parish in Michigan or anywhere,” he said.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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