An antigay Catholic archbishop has suspended his duties in public ministry after an allegation of sexual abuse toward a minor surfaced.
John C. Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has denied the accusation that he touched a boy, who remains anonymous, on the buttocks in 2009, according to local news source KSTP. The archdiocese confirms that a mandated reporter recently alerted the St. Paul Police of the incident after consulting with church leadership.
The act allegedly occurred during a photo shoot that followed the young man’s confirmation ceremony, a sacrament that typically occurs when Catholics reach their mid-teens in the United States.
In a letter posted on the archdiocese’s website, Nienstedt states that “this allegation is absolutely and entirely false. I have never once engaged in any inappropriate contact with a minor and I have tried to the very best of my ability to serve this Archdiocese and the church faithfully, with honor and due regard for the rights of all, even those with whom I disagree.”
He defended his position by providing information that detailed his habitual pose for these public photographs: “I normally stand for those photos with one hand on my crozier (staff) and the other either on the right shoulder of the newly confirmed or on my pallium (the short stole), which hangs from my chest,” adding “there are hundreds of photographs to verify that fact.”
Nienstedt is an ardent opponent of LGBT rights. In 2012 he penned a letter asking Roman Catholics in Minnesota to vote in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and subsequently helped organize a $100,000 mailing that asked parishoners to donate to anti-marriage equality campaigns. Earlier this year, he said that marriage equality is a concept that was engineered by Satan, whom he called the “Father of Lies.”