Nienstedt's Gay Promiscuity, Harassment & Reprisals

Thus far, nine persons out of eleven are known to have filed affidavits in the Nienstedt misconduct investigation: (1) Joel Cycenas, a former Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis priest and friend of Nienstedt, (2) Lawrence Ventline, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit(3) Eugene Tiffany, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, (4) Gary Michalik, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, (5) James Heathcott, a former seminarian at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, (6) William Siebert, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, (7) Paul Blaschko, a former seminarian at Saint John Vianney Seminary, (8) Michael Becker, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and (9) X, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (See Minnesota Public Radio's story and Star Tribune's story.)

March 11, 2016

During the phone conversation, Fr. Y informed Fr. X that Abp. Nienstedt was homosexual/gay. Fr. Y stated that App. Nienstedt's conduct was not illegal, though, because it involved consensual sex with seminarians and priests. Fr. X asked Fr. Y if Fr. Daniel Griffith (Archdiocesan Delegate for Safe Environment) knew. Fr. Y said that Fr. Griffith did know. Fr. X asked if 'Rome' also knew and Fr. Y said they did.

From: "Misconduct Allegations 'Dumbfounded' Nienstedt," Star Tribune, by Jean HopfenspergerTony Kennedy and Paul McEnroe

July 19, 2015

The Star Tribune obtained a 2014 letter sent by a former student at Sacred Heart Seminary to former auxiliary bishop Lee Piché, who oversaw the Nienstedt investigation, alleging that Nienstedt touched his buttocks after a dinner together one night between 2000 and 2002. Joseph Rangitsch said he protested and Nienstedt replied he could “make things unpleasant for you very quickly.”

From: Confidential Memorandum by Daniel Griffith, p. 26 (Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

November 22, 2013
  • A reputable source (Archbishop Harry J. Flynn) has indicated that a priest in Detroit has alleged that while staying overnight at the rectory of the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Michigan (then) Fr. Nienstedt sexually solicited him. The alleged advance was not reciprocated. In a discussion with the source, wherein the incident was recounted, the priest stated: "I know when I am being hit on."
  • A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis recently had a conversation with a former priest, Joel Cycenas, which is documented in the attached statement. The priest states that Cycenas told him about an incident in Michigan where Bishop Nienstedt (the year is not known) asked Cycenas to drive his car back to his summer home from a restaurant where they had dined. According to the priest, Cycenas alleges that while he was driving, Bishop Nienstedt began massaging his neck. When they arrived home, Cycenas asked Bishop Nienstedt to drive him to the airport the next morning. The priest also stated that when he asked Cycenas whether he was concerned that Archbishop Nienstedt occasionally camps with seminarians in the boundary waters, he responded, yes.
  • Another priest of the Archdiocese told me a number of years ago that he was in Detroit as a presenter at a conference. The conference took place shortly after it was announced that Archbishop Nienstedt was named coadjutor archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He stated that a number of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit spoke to him regarding what they described as Archbishop's promiscuous gay lifestyle while serving as a priest in Detroit and while living in Rome.
  • A reputable source from Detroit (Maureen Fay, OP) who serves on a board of directors of a Twin Cities university allegedly stated to other board members that many people from the Detroit Archdiocese knew of Archbishop Nienstedt's promiscuous gay lifestyle while he was serving there as a priest.
  • Recently, the spouse of a chancery official (the wife of Joe Kueppers) of the Archdiocese has received a number of calls from men with whom she works in the Twin Cities Arts industry. The callers told her that they have knowledge that Archbishop Nienstedt was active in a gay lifestyle while serving as a priest in Detroit. They further told her to convey this information to her husband.
  • In the last 4-5 weeks, Archbishop Nienstedt has received several anonymous letters postmarked from different cities. All of these letters reference a place called the 'Happy Tap', a gay bar and strip club in Windsor, Canada. This establishment is located across the river from Detroit. The writers of these letters allege that they remember Archbishop Nienstedt and ask if he remembers them. They also state that he should 'come out' and that he should resign soon.

From: Confidential Memorandum by Daniel Griffith, p. 27-28 (Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

February 6, 2014
  • Fr. Michael Becker, in a phone conversation, also indicated that Joel Cycenas had told him that Bishop Nienstedt came onto him while at his Michigan summer home. Archbishop Nienstedt when asked about his relationship with Cycenas stated that they were just friends and there was nothing inappropriate between them. Archbishop Nienstedt has denied the allegations that he came onto Cycenas.
  • In December of 2013, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who is a mandatory reporter, reported to Detective Urbanski of the St. Paul Police Department that he had learned about an incidence where a minor boy alleged that Archbishop Nienstedt inappropriately touched him on the buttocks during a picture taking session following a confirmation at the Cathedral of St. Paul. The alleged incident took place in May of 2009.
  • Parishioners and former staff members of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in St. Paul indicated that they found the relationship between Fr. X (former pastor) and Bishop Nienstedt (then bishop of New Ulm) odd. Bishop Nienstedt was a frequent guest of Fr. X at the Holy Spirit rectory. Apparently, he would drive to St. Paul from New Ulm and stay overnight. Bishop Nienstedt indicated that he was often flying out of the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport the next day. The former trustee of Holy Spirit (now deceased) and her husband occasionally would invite Bishop Nienstedt and Fr. X to their home for dinner. It has been reported that the trustee and her husband became troubled by the excessive drinking of Fr. X and Bishop Nienstedt and the interaction between the two of them was described as flirtatious.
  • A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has indicated that a number of years ago Bishop Nienstedt (then bishop of New Ulm) helped move a young priest of the Duluth diocese into his residence. Apparently, the Duluth priest was troubled by the attention being paid him by a bishop from another diocese. When the (then) bishop of Duluth heard about this, he allegedly called Bishop Niensted and told him to stay away from his young priests.

From: Confidential Memorandum by Daniel Griffith, p. 30-33 (Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

April 20, 2014
  • The sworn statements provided to those gathered detailed a number of allegations of misconduct by Archbishop Nienstedt, spanning many years. Allegations regarding Archbishop Nienstedt (JN) stated in the sworn statements include: JN seen at a gay bar in Windsor, Canada; JN cruising at a Detroit park known for such activity; JN seen at a gay video store in Detroit; alleged sexual harassment by JN of a Detroit priest; 3 contemporaneous reports of the alleged sexual harassment by JN of a Detroit priest; allegations of reprisals by JN against a Detroit priest; concerns raised about JN's interaction with seminarians in Detroit; alleged sexual harassment by JN of a former St. Paul priest; a contemporaneous report of the alleged sexual harassment by JN of a former St. Paul priest; allegations of reprisals by JN against a former St. Paul priest; concerns raised by a college seminary rector and another St. Paul priest regarding JN's interaction with seminarians in St. Paul; allegations of excessive drinking by JN.
  • [T]here are troubling concerns about patterns suggested by the evidence thus far: alleged unwelcome advances; inappropriate interaction with seminarians; and reprisals in response to those who do not reciprocate the alleged advances. For example, the current Rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary and the former Director of the Office for Priestly Life and Ministry both state in their affidavits their concern regarding Archbishop Nienstedt's interaction with seminarians. Both of these priests were appointed by Archbishop Nienstedt to their respective positions. The current rector further notes in his affidavit that his predecessor at St. John Vianney Seminary also had concerns regarding the Archbishop's interaction with seminarians. Archbishop Nienstedt's former vicar general recently told me that he expressed his concern to Archbishop regarding annual camping trips the Archbishop has taken with college seminarians. Both the currents and former Chancellor for Canonical Affairs have noted seeing odd letters written to seminarians by Archbishop Nienstedt wherein warm and affectionate language is used.
  • This individual (James Heathcott), now married with children and living in Oregon, alleges that when he was 18 years old an a seminarian in Detroit, he was asked by then Monsignor Nienstedt (then rector of the seminary) to accompany him on a ski trip. When the seminarian declined and stated that he thought the invitation was inappropriate, he alleges he was promptly removed from the seminary by then Monsignor Nienstedt. This individual, who described the behavior as a 'kind of grooming' has now presented his testimony in the form of an affidavit.
  • Similarly, the current priest secretary (Michael Krenik) of Archbishop Nienstedt was arrested for solicitation in a St. Paul park known for gay cruising. After his resignation from his pastorate, Archbishop Nienstedt appointed him as his secretary and wrote on his behalf to the Court in favor of expunging his arrest. It is my understanding that Archbishop Nienstedt disagreed with the Clergy Review Board's recommendation not to return this priest to active ministry.
  • The present evidence of misconduct, sexual harassment, past and continuing inappropriate interaction with seminarians, and of reprisals, raise concerns of scandal, loss of credibility, and the deleterious effect on the safe environment of the Archdiocese. 

From: Confidential Memorandum by Daniel Griffith, p. 34-44 (Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

July 7, 2014
  • Previously, I had heard from a priest of this Archdiocese who wishes to remain anonymous that Archbishop Harry Flynn had conveyed his concerns in this regard to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.
  • In summary, Mr. Forsgren and Mr. Wallace-Jackson had gathered evidence in the form of sworn statements of the following regarding Archbishop Nienstedt: sexual misconduct; sex harassment; reprisals in response to the rejection of unwelcome advances; and excessive drinking. Mr. Forsgren and Mr. Wallace-Jackson stated that they found all of the affiants to be credible and notes that many of their statements were against self interest and noted that in some cases the affiants put themselves in places they ought not to have been as priests.
  • I understand Archbishop Nienstedt had a conversation with the Nuncio (Carlo Viganò) after his meeting with you (Lee Piché) and Bishop Cozzens. In that meeting, he may have convinced the Nuncio that the allegations against him were all false and part of the conspiracy that Archbishop Nienstedt recently referenced last week as the news of the investigation broke in the media. As I further understand, the Apostolic Nuncio believed that the allegations were not as serious as you and Bishop Cozzens had indicated at your meeting and ordered you to have the lawyers quickly interview Archbishop Nienstedt and wrap up the investigation. The Nuncio said that the lawyers were not to pursue any further leads, including an allegation referenced by many of the affiants in Detroit that Archbishop Nienstedt may have had sexual relations with a Swiss Guardsman in Rome. In response to the Apostolic Nuncio's directives, you and Bishop Cozzens sought counsel and responded to the Nuncio, in letter form, stating that both of you disagreed with his decision to shut down the investigation, noting that this would rightly be seen as a cover-up.
  • At that same post-Easter meeting, you (Lee Piché) gave Mr. Wallace-Jackson a correspondence which you later took out of his hand as he was reading it, saying that he could not read it, nor could he be given a copy of this and that you should not have given it to him in the first place. Mr. Wallace-Jackson was very concerned by this and asked me to follow up to obtain a copy. In a subsequent conversation with you, I asked you if the investigators could see the letter and you said no. At this same meeting, you indicated to Mr. Wallace-Jackson and me that after you and Bishop Cozzens had sent your letter to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Nuncio in response asked you to take back the letter and destroy it. You did not indicated whether you had complied with this request, or perhaps it was a directive. I would like to pause for a moment and visit the gravity of what you conveyed to Mr. Wallace-Jackson and me in your office at the chancery. The destruction of evidence is a crime under federal law and state law and the fact that this request was made of you by a papal representative to the United States is most distressing. I sincerely hope and trust that you and/or Bishop Cozzens did not comply with this shocking request/directive made of you by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. I would advise you that if you have not done so already, to report this request (or perhaps directive) made by the Nuncio to destroy evidence to an appropriate authority in the Vatican.
  • I believe there still exists a principle of Catholic moral theology that one's conscience is not bound by something immoral or unjust. There is still the possibility to allow Greene Espel to complete this investigation consistent with the January 31st letter and in furtherance of both truth and justice.
  • Now, given the decisions made subsequent to the April 12th meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio as well as the July 2nd letter inhibiting the work of our investigation, the Archdiocese is complicit in a cover-up, and, in part, responsible for the coming scandal and further loss of trust of our Catholic faithful. In addiction, scandalous too is the amount of money spent (approximately $400,000) on an aborted investigation.

William Siebert is a priest in the Detroit Diocese. ... Siebert stated that he first met John Nienstedt when he was a student in 1979. Siebert stated that in December of 1981 or 1982 he was in Palmer Park on Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Siebert was there as this was known to be a homosexual men's meeting spot. Around 11:00 PM Nienstedt drove into the area driving a green Cadillac and asked Siebert if he had any 'poppers'. Siebert stated he did. Nienstedt parked and Siebert got into his car. At that point Nienstedt recognized Siebert. Siebert said that Nienstedt looked shocked and awkward. Nienstedt asked Siebert if he were still at St. John's Provincial Seminary. Siebert did not give Nienstedt any 'poppers' and left the car.

From: Interview by Investigator Leatherman
, p. 54-57.

December 29, 2015

Afterwards, [Paul] Blaschko and X met up with Bp. Nienstedt outside the event. Blaschko said that it was raining hard and all three ran to a nearby pub and had lunch. After lunch, Bp. Nienstedt suggested that since they were done with lunch and wet, they should go back to Nienstedt's hotel room. Neither Blaschko nor X had complained about being wet. Blaschko said that since Bp. Nienstedt was such an authority figure he would not have been comfortable complaining or questioning Bp. Nienstedt. Blaschko and X were not staying at the same hotel as Bp. Nienstedt. All three walked to Bp. Nienstedt's hotel room which was nearby. Bp. Nienstedt took off his wet clothes and changed into dry ones in the main room in the presence of Blaschko and X. Blaschko said that Bp. Nienstedt's dress shoes were soaking wet and he put on tennis shoes. Blaschko and X also removed all their clothes in the presence of Bp. Nienstedt and put on hotel room robes. All were in the main room and no one changed in the room's bathroom. Blaschko appeared troubled as he related the incident. 

From: Interview by Investigator Leatherman, p. 24.

May 14, 2015

Fr. Griffith said that Wehmeyer had been interviewed by the Greene-Espel investigator. Fr. Griffith recalls that the letter raises issues about an unusual relationship which was not professional, but social in nature, between Archbishop Nienstedt and Wehmeyer. Fr. Griffith said that the letter documented Archbishop Nienstedt (not in clerical clothing) and Wehmeyer meeting and often drinking together--which is not something the Archbishop would do normally with priests. Fr. Griffith indicated this alone was troubling because Wehmeyer was struggling with alcohol abuse.

June 19, 2015
"An Isolated Nienstedt Tried to Limit Investigation into Himself"

Nienstedt called him into his office and asked, "Have you explored your sexuality?" and "Do you think you have homosexual tendencies?" according to Heathcott's affidavit.

"I responded truthfully that I was not gay. He nonetheless suggested that I should consider participating in a counseling program for reasons I still do not know."

Later that year, Nienstedt stopped Heathcott in the hallway near his bedroom and invited him on a weekend ski trip at a "private chalet," Heathcott said in his affidavit. 

Heathcott declined and told Nienstedt that the invitation appeared to contradict Nienstedt's own statements to seminarians about the importance of maintaining proper boundaries. "Nienstedt made little or no response other than perhaps 'ok' and walked away," according to the affidavit.

A few days later, Heathcott found an envelope in his mailbox stamped "confidential." 

Inside was a letter from Nienstedt "to the effect that in light of my 'recent behaviors' I was sending the 'wrong message' to other seminarians and that it was in the best interest of the seminary and the formation of others for me to leave," Heathcott said in his affidavit. "I was outraged by this."

That night, Heathcott left to attend a wedding. When he returned the following morning, Nienstedt asked where he had been and told him to pack his belongings and leave the seminary.

"The situation was ridiculous and I could not take it anymore," Heathcott said in his affidavit. "I was angry — and devastated."

Heathcott left the seminary. A short while later, he wrote a letter to the archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Edmund Szoka, that explained how Nienstedt had kicked him out of the seminary. In his letter, Heathcott said, he expressed concern for the other seminarians.

Szoka never replied.

In his affidavit, Heathcott reflected on his contact with Nienstedt as a young man. "I consider Nienstedt's interactions with me to be a kind of grooming," he said. 

"I believe that I was expelled from Sacred Heart because I rejected the invitation to go on a private ski trip with Nienstedt and two seminarians," he said. "This event ... impacted me significantly. I am often asked how I regard my time in the seminary, and I relate that my experience was wonderful although I would never wish on anyone what Nienstedt did to me. I believe that he denied me the chance to continue exploring my calling to the priesthood to its fruition. While I have no regrets — my life is wonderful today — there is a sense of 'what if' that I still carry with me."

Heathcott signed his affidavit on April 19, 2014. It was the final affidavit in the investigation by Greene Espel.

July 19, 2015
"In His First Remarks Since Resigning, Nienstedt Denies Allegations in Affidavits"

In one affidavit, a priest in Harrison Township, Mich., reported seeing Nienstedt at a gay nightclub in Windsor, Ontario, just across the border from Detroit in the 1980s. 'I recall seeing John — and there is no doubt in my mind that it was him based on my prior interactions with him — at the Happy Tap,' the Rev. Lawrence Ventline wrote in his affidavit. 'He appeared to wave me off as I was coming — and I backed off because I did not want impose on him.'


In addition, the Star Tribune obtained a 2014 letter sent by a former student at Sacred Heart Seminary to former auxiliary bishop Lee Piché, who oversaw the Nienstedt investigation, alleging that Nienstedt touched his buttocks after a dinner together one night between 2000 and 2002. Joseph Rangitsch said he protested and Nienstedt replied he could 'make things unpleasant for you very quickly.'

From: Canonical Consultation and Services, L.L.C. by Jennifer Haselberger (former Chancellor for Canonical Affairs of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

December 11, 2014

The Accusations Against Archbishop Nienstedt: A War of Words?

'[O]ne of the allegations/affidavits/reports that has been made as part of this investigation is that the Archbishop [i.e., John Nienstedt] has also been known to go 'cruising' (and I am not referring to the type of cruising one does on a ship in the Caribbean) and, on one occasion, purchased 'poppers' (and not the exploding candy preferred by elementary school students) and followed another gentleman to his car for, well, the type of activity that men purchase 'poppers' for, only to discover when the interior lights of the car went on that the other individual had been a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Detroit. What was reported to me was that when the Archbishop recognized the individual, he made a statement to the extent that he 'couldn't do this' and left the car. Again, this is only one of the reports that I have heard about, which leaves approximately a dozen more accusations of various types and from other individuals at other times."

From: Religion: Roots & Relationship by Lawrence Ventline (Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit; ordained 1976)

Friday, July 18, 2014 
A Bishop Is Called to Task 

The New York Times called for a bishop [John Nienstedt] to resign in its op/ed pages today.

Investigations seem to be uncovering disturbing truths, let alone allegations.

A local [Detroit auxiliary] bishop doesn't think he will resign, however.

Pressure on him [Nienstedt] presses on daily.

How can he endure the ache and push to surrender?


Some time ago, I called his office and wanted to ask this bishop [John Nienstedt] to do a courageous thing [come out of the closet].

His affect seemed flat.

I didn't have the heart to tell him then.

Weeks later, I called his office again asking his priest secretary to give him a message.

He replied that he would.

I trust he did.

Media is all abuzz about this story.

Honesty is the best policy.  Whoever one is, she or he is set free by the truth [that he is gay].

In all humility, I know.

God is in all this always.

The bishop will do the right thing, I hope, sooner than later.

Let's pray he will as his parishioners applaud his accepting who their Shepherd is leading them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 
Out of the Shadow

Teachers, sports players, clergy, among others need to be transparent about their sexual orientation.

Given that gays, for example, are persecuted, and more, staying closeted is one's lone option.

However, issues will emerge if one chooses not to come out of the shadows of her or his life.

It breaks my heart, for example, to witness the overwhelming sexual abuse and boundary violations of clergy these past five decades, and beyond, I'm sure.

A bishop [John Nienstedt] was recently alleged with abuse and stepped down, according to policies of the diocese, does not perform public ministry, but, works in his office daily, for example.

It seems to me that if this bishop [John Nienstedt], like Bishop Gene Robinson who came out as a gay man, among other clergy came out, the cycle of the abuse would be stopped.

Life is like that. 

Until one's life is fully embraced, violence to one's self, one's soul, and others occurs, sad to say.

One needs to embrace her or his sexuality in order that inappropriate, even criminal behavior does not erupt when clandestine acting out occurs readily.

Like a big beach ball that is pressed into a bath tub full of water finds a way to buoy up out of the water, so does one's behavior erupts.

Life is like that.

To accept and acclaim one's sexuality is critical to health and wellness.

I was saddened to speak on the phone recently with a bishop [John Nienstedt] who needs to embrace who he is in order to stop the inappropriate, even criminal behavior.

Institutional and personal denial  of one's orientations exacerbates problems, when 'don't ask, don't tell' is the choice.

God help this brother pastor [John Nienstedt], and others, who fail to step up and celebrate their sexuality, whether straight, gay or otherwise.

I know.

From: AW Ricard Sipe (November 1, 2012)

The current archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, I knew was indeed a product of Detroit (and Rome) where the speaker had experience. His name first surfaced when I learned about the painful concerns of a couple that were refused baptism of their newly born twins because they had been conceived by in vitro fertilization. Nienstedt's thesis provided some of the rationalization the priest used to refuse the sacrament.

Longtime Minnesota friends in and outside of clergy circles have kept me posted since 2008 about the outlandish positions the archbishop has articulated especially about sex (and obedience).

He said homosexuality resulted from some psychic trauma and "must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed". (As if Original sin isn't a sufficient component of any human failing.)

Nienstedt spent a million dollars in a campaign to persuade registered Catholics to support a marriage amendment that would define marriage as only between one man and one woman. (It was defeated on November 6, 2012.) In connection with this effort he wrote every priest of the diocese and said the he would "not tolerate any open dissent" to his efforts.

He wrote an article about his official teaching on homosexuality to a local paper. When a woman objected to his interpretation he wrote her a letter: "Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching (that homosexuality is intrinsically evil). Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church... Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversion of heart on this topic." (Star-Tribune 5-11-10)

Our clerical informant insisted that Nienstedt has a gay orientation that was known and talked about since his seminary days. [I never report the identification of a cleric's sexual orientation without at least three reliable independent personal validations. Those I have.]

His opposition to Gay Pride, Pro Choice, Marriage Equality and his insistence on obedience to church authority (especially incarnate in himself) could be attributed to doctrinal orthodoxy. But my years of observation and research lead me to conclude that a man - even an archbishop - has his personal sexuality that must be taken into account in understanding his pronouncements and behavior.


This attitude of sexual denial and superiority permeates Catholic sexual teaching to its core. On the one hand the church condemns masturbation as intrinsically evil (The most frequent sexual practice of clergy). The church's moral construct about all sexual behavior is a house of cards that rests on the maintenance of masturbation as mortally sinful behavior - pleasure not in the service of procreation. Contraception, sex prior to marriage, or after divorce, all abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, and in vitro fertilization are all easily and arrogantly condemned - not discussed - by bishops like Nienstedt when their own orientation and practices remain secret and shrouded in sacred mystery.

“You know, over the years, as executive coordinator of CPCSM, I received a number of communications, some anonymous, some not, from people alleging that Archbishop Nienstedt was gay and sexually active. The late David McCaffrey and I even met with a reporter from the Star Tribune in 2009. She expressed interest in pursuing the story but only if at least one of those making the accusations would be prepared to 'go on record.' Unfortunately, none of them were prepared to do so. I later explored this rather frustrating situation through the writing of 'The Note,' one of the installments of my Journal of James Curtis series. 

Nienstedt's 'shadow'
“More recently I shared my thoughts on what I called Nienstedt's 'shadow.' This discussion was inspired by the words and insights of author and psychologist John Neafsey as they relate to the Jungian concept of 'the shadow' – those parts of ourselves that, says Neafsey, 'don't neatly fit with our ideal mental image of the person we think we should be, our idea of what a 'good' or 'holy' person is like.' …

“Unconsciousness of our shadow also makes us more prone to hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes toward other people. . . . We end up criticizing in others what we are actually ashamed of and afraid to look at in ourselves.

“Many will read this last paragraph of Neafsey's and immediately think of Nienstedt's words and actions around the issue of homosexuality. After all, as David Gibson of the Religion News Service notes, 'Nienstedt has earned a reputation as a leading culture warrior in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and his signature issue is homosexuality.'

“Indeed, from the very start of his tenure as archbishop (in fact, even well before he was appointed coadjutor archbishop) John Nienstedt has been in the news for making what many consider to be outlandish and hurtful statements not only about gay people but also those who love and support them. …

Obsessive and misguided
Many local Catholics were scandalized and angered by the amount of time, energy and money that Nienstedt expended on demonizing gay relationships and attempting to deny them legal recognition in civil law. Such resources, these Catholics contend, could and should have been focused on creating a local church reflective of gospel values, including confronting and dealing with the many issues relating to clergy sex abuse within the archdiocese; issues, which Nienstedt openly admitted in his recent deposition, he was 'out of the loop' about.

“I believe that Nienstedt's cluelessness about so much of the external crisis around him stems from his inner unconsciousness of his 'shadow,' and I believe that Nienstedt's shadow is to do with issues related to his own homosexuality and its integration (or lack thereof) into his life. Remember, according to Neafsey, the shadow is comprised of those parts of ourselves that 'don't neatly fit with our ideal mental image of the person we think we should be, [and] our idea of what a 'good' or 'holy' person is like.' 

“It's also important to note, especially when we are talking about a situation of repressed homosexuality, that 'the word shadow does not necessarily mean that these aspects of ourselves are bad or sinful, but rather suggests that some dimensions of our inner experience . . . may not comfortably fit with the kind of self we aspire to be in the light of day.' 

“As has already been mentioned in relation to Nienstedt's obsessive and misguided focus on same-sex relationships, people who are unconsciousness of their shadow are more prone to judgmental attitudes toward others. They often project their shame, fear, and anger about the reality they are denying and/or repressing out onto those who are successfully integrating into their lives this same reality.

“Also, credible studies suggest that those who harbor and/or express negative feelings and hostility toward gay people may themselves be struggling with suppressed feelings of same-sex desire. (See, for example, here, here and here.) 

“Today's news, however, takes things to a whole new level. Nienstedt is being investigated for “multiple allegations” of inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other men. In the worst case scenario, the word 'inappropriate' in this context could mean that he expressed his same-sex desires in ways that coerced and exploited others. He is also accused of 'retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.' It thus could be that the 'inappropriate conduct' of the archbishop that is under investigation largely comprises an abuse of power. And then, of course, if these allegations are proven true then there's the sickening level of hypocrisy that must be faced: As Nienstedt was tirelessly working to demonize consensual sexual activity between two people of the same sex and to deny legal recognition of same-sex relationships, he himself was engaging in (or attempting to engage in) sexual activty with other men.”

From: John M. Becker (July 1, 2014)

As noted above, Archbishop Nienstedt is one of the most obsessively homophobic members of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy. Among his worst anti-LGBT moments: 
    • While serving as the bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota (2007), Nienstedt penned a column warning Catholics not to watch Brokeback Mountain, saying the gay-themed film "make[s] evil look so attractive."
    • Nienstedt denied communion to a group of students at St. John's University in October 2010 because they were wearing rainbow buttons in support of LGBT equality and in protest of the DVD campaign.
    • The following month, he told priests in his diocese that if they opposed the Minnesota Catholic Church's campaign to pass a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, they'd better shut up about it. He also ordered them to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes to work for passage of the amendment -- at parish expense.
    • In September 2013, Nienstedt claimed that Satan -- "the Father of Lies" -- causes marriage equality.
    • Perhaps most infamously, he told the mother of an LGBT child -- who wrote to him pleading for acceptance of her gay son -- that she risked her eternal salvation if she failed to accept the Catholic Church's homophobic teachings.
You know what they say about the ones who scream the loudest...
Isadore Roberts,
Sep 9, 2018, 11:16 AM
Isadore Roberts,
Sep 9, 2018, 11:16 AM