Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, who had failed to report a priest who had possessed child pornography. Finn was convicted.
Is the clergy sex abuse scandal in Kansas City similar to the scandal here?
Yes, in general terms. Both Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt and Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City have been accused of covering up clergy sex abuse.
However, in Kansas City, the cover-up led to a criminal charge against Finn for failing to immediately tell police about a priest caught with child pornography. The case ended when Finn was convicted of the misdemeanor charge. He was sentenced to two years' probation in 2012, according to the Associated Press.
Nienstedt has not been criminally charged for his handling of clergy sex abuse. Nienstedt's role in protecting accused priests was revealed in an investigative series by MPR News in 2013. The reports showed Nienstedt had authorized secret payments to priests accused of sexually abusing children and failed to warn parishioners of sexual misconduct by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer — a priest who went on to sexually abuse at least two children of a parish employee. Wehmeyer pleaded guilty and is now in prison. MPR News has also reported that Nienstedt gave several false statements in a sworn deposition taken in 2014 as part of a clergy sex abuse lawsuit.
Although Nienstedt has not been criminally charged for his handling of abuse claims against other priests, he has faced his own criminal investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.
What do we know about that investigation?
An unnamed person came forward in late 2013 to report a claim that Nienstedt had touched a boy inappropriately at a public event years earlier. St. Paul police opened a criminal investigation, and Nienstedt denied the allegation. The case was closed without charges in March 2014, but police reopened it later that month at the request of the Ramsey County attorney's office.
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A spokesperson for the county attorney has said the reopening of the case is not specific to Nienstedt and that the case has other elements that require further investigation. The case remains open. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has said that prosecutors are also reviewing thousands of documents detailing the archdiocese's handling of abuse claims. The archdiocese turned over the documents in response to a lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of abuse.
How did the initial response from the Vatican to the Kansas City scandal compare to its response to the scandal in the Twin Cities?
The Diocese of Kansas City has received more visible scrutiny from Vatican officials. In 2014, the Vatican sent a Canadian archbishop to the diocese to investigate Finn's leadership, according to the National Catholic Reporter. At the time, some Vatican watchers considered the investigation, known as an apostolic visitation, to be a precursor to Finn's resignation.
There has been no apostolic visitation in the Twin Cities, according to the archdiocese. And the Vatican has said nothing publicly about Nienstedt's handling of abuse cases.
What has Archbishop Nienstedt said in response to calls for his resignation?
Nienstedt has said he has no plans to resign. At a news conference in January to announce the archdiocese's bankruptcy filing, Nienstedt compared his relationship with the archdiocese to a marriage. "We all know that marriages go through rough difficulties and rough times, and this is one of those times. And it's seven years, and that's usually when it happens in marriage."
Nienstedt said he cares deeply about Twin Cities Catholics. "I love this archdiocese. I think I have worked hard on behalf of the archdiocese," he said in January.
Correction (April 21, 2015): This story has been updated to reflect a correction by the Associated Press about Finn's criminal case.