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Nienstedt leaves Michigan diocese after presence causes stir

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Archbishop Nienstedt
Archbishop John Nienstedt
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2014

Updated 1:30 p.m. | Posted 11:42 a.m.

Archbishop John Nienstedt is leaving a Battle Creek parish as some members of the southwestern Michigan diocese became angered to learn that he led a Minnesota archdiocese during a clergy sex abuse scandal.

Pastor John Fleckenstein wrote in a letter Thursday to members of St. Philip Catholic Church that Nienstedt decided to discontinue his work there "in light of the unintended discord that his presence was causing."

Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

He stepped in at St. Philip earlier this month while his friend Fleckenstein recovered from an illness.

Nienstedt resigned the Twin Cities post after Ramsey County prosecutors charged the archdiocese with failing to protect children from a predatory priest.

The charge followed two years of revelations about the failure of the archdiocese to protect children from sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. 

Nienstedt, who served eight years as Twin Cities archbishop, admitted no mistakes in his resignation letter.

Barbara Blaine, president of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Nienstedt should never been allowed to serve in Michigan.

"Catholic officials in Rome, Kalamazoo and St. Paul should have ordered him to leave," she said in a statement. "For the safety of the parishioners and the public, he should not ever be put back into ministry."

MPR News staff contributed to this report.