Vatican Concludes Investigation into Archbishop John Nienstedt

A Vatican investigation into alleged misconduct by former Saint Paul & Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt has cleared him of committing any canonical crime, but determined that certain “imprudent” actions warranted limitations placed on his ministerial ability.

“After reviewing all of the information gathered, the Dicasteries for Bishops and for the Doctrine of the Faith concluded that the available evidence did not support a finding that Archbishop Nienstedt had committed any canonical delict [crime],” Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul & Minneapolis announced on Friday.

“Accordingly, the allegations against Archbishop Nienstedt were deemed unfounded,” said Hebda, who is a former official of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

However, Hebda said that while the investigation didn’t find any criminal conduct, “several instances of ‘imprudent’ actions by Nienstedt were brought to light.” These actions don’t warrant further investigation or action, Hebda said, but he added that they led Pope Francis to take the following administrative actions:

  • Nienstedt may not exercise any public ministries in the Province of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which covers all of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Nienstedt cannot reside in the Province of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
  • Nienstedt cannot exercise ministry in any way outside of his diocese of residence without the express authorization of the local bishop, and only after the Dicastery for Bishops has been informed.

Nienstedt, 76, led the archdiocese from 2008-2015. He resigned in 2015 under fire for his alleged mismanagement of clergy sexual abuse cases, of which the archdiocese was criminally charged for 10 days before his resignation.

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