UPDATE: Well, that didn't last long. Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned from his new Michigan post after just a couple weeks, according to the Star Tribune. Nienstedt was supposed to stay on at the church for about six months, as a temporary replacement for a longtime friend, Rev. John Fleckenstein. In a message to parishioners, Fleckenstein blamed Nienstedt's swift exit on media coverage, which fostered an atmosphere of "anger and fear." We wonder why.
It's hard enough getting a job these days. Here's a tip: You don't have to include all of your work experience, especially if you're not sure listing a previous gig will help you get the new job. Say, for example, your former employer is in bankruptcy, and you've been indicted as a lead figure in a conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children. That might be something you would leave off your resume.
This sort of selective memory is our best guess for the surprisingly swift career comeback for Archbishop John Nienstedt. Nienstedt held that post with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for eight years. But he vacated his position in June, for some fairly obvious reasons. The church was in bankruptcy, and, by August, would be facing more than 400 claims of sexual abuse by parishioners.
Reason number two: The archdiocese had been indicted on criminal charges, which alleged that Nienstedt and other higher-ups in the church had repeatedly ignored or quieted disturbing talk about Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, now in prison for sexual abuse and child pornography.
You'd think all this would lead to some sort of extended cooling off period, and that Nienstedt, 58, might be ready for another job sometime around 2025. Wrong. The former archbishop resurfaced back in his native Michigan in early January, and is already working with a Catholic church in Battle Creek.
The nature of Nienstedt's assignment by the Kalamazoo Diocese is unclear: He's filling in for another priest, who has come to Mayo Clinic for treatment of a serious illness; it's also not apparent if Nienstedt is being paid or is just taking the position as a favor to the church.
His role was announced quietly in a local church bulletin, and Nienstedt has variously been described as "retired" or "emeritus," as in this statement, given to the National Catholic Reporter:
"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."
Said "good standing" is good enough for some of Nienstedt's new parishioners, who told WWMT television station in Michigan that Nienstedt seemed like a decent enough guy on first impression. One guy shook hands with Nienstedt, and thought that went well. Another churchgoer says Nienstedt "denies any kind of wrongdoing and I feel he is telling the truth."
To refresh memories, here's an informative clip of Nienstedt's 2014 deposition by attorney Jeff Anderson, as part of a civil suit against the church. Why, Anderson asked, didn't Nienstedt take allegations and rumors of improper behavior by Rev. Wehmeyer, and turn them over to the police? Nienstedt explains that he had retained the services of Kinsale Management Consulting to review the matter, and was awaiting the findings of that report.
Hardly a shining beacon of moral light, this Nienstedt. He's all yours, Michigan — until and unless, that is, he's called back to testify in criminal court.
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