Lay coalition proposes replacements for embattled US archbishop

A lay coalition in an American archdiocese has drawn up a list of potential successors to an embattled archbishop, who is being called upon to resign.

The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in St Paul-Minnesapolis has identified seven nominees to replace embattled Archbishop John Nienstedt.

During the first half of November, an “election-like process” will produce the three names to be sent to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Coalition board member Paula Ruddy acknowledged “as lay Catholics, we can’t actually elect our leadership, but we want to raise our voices as concerned Christians who want a sustainable, healthy, Church”.

The coalition’s criteria included candidates being younger than 65, untainted by abuse scandals and being from the local area.

A consultant committee of four laypeople and five priests scrutinised those on a shortlist for abilities in key areas.

These were pastoral experience, credibility, theological aptitude, and experience working in social justice areas, with multiple generations, and in interfaith and diverse partnerships.

A key factor was “the ability to really act as shepherd and unify factions”.

The National Catholic Reporter questioned the track record of one of the nominees in response to the abuse crisis.

Editorials in the local Star-Tribune and the New York Times have called upon Archbishop Nienstedt to resign.

He is undergoing an investigation into possible sexual misconduct and his archdiocese is facing legal action.

Former archdiocesan chancellor Jennifer Haselberger reported a “cavalier attitude about the safety of other people’s children” at the archdiocese’s top levels.

This led to lax investigations and continued priestly service by suspected abusers, she stated in an affidavit.

Archbishop Nienstedt has vowed to stay in office as long as Pope Francis wants him to.

He said he’s never knowingly covered up clergy sexual abuse.

He also said he’s created a new leadership team that puts victims first and he maintains he’s always been honest with Catholics of the archdiocese.

Archbishop Nienstedt has previously cautioned local Catholics from interacting with the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

The coalition includes local chapters of DignityUSA, Call to Action and Roman Catholic Women Priests.


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