Ten days after prosecutors charged the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis of mishandling repeated complaints related to clergy sex abuse, the archbishop and another top bishop there resigned Monday in a rare public fall for U.S. church officials.
Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché were not charged individually in the case and said they were stepping down to remove distractions from the archdiocese as it faces a crisis.
“In order to give the Archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation as Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and I have just received word that he has accepted it,” Nienstedt said in a statement. “My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of His Church and those who perform them.”
Five days earlier, the Pope named a new Vatican tribunal whose job it is to hold bishops accountable for failures in policing sexual abuse in their dioceses. I’d say the Minneapolis resignations, which were unlikely to have been Nienstedt’s and Piché’s idea, are sending a message. Well done, Pope Francis. More, please.