We credit Archbishop John Nienstedt for his frankness when commenting publically Sunday on the allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Minnesota, but we're not surprised if what he said fell on a lot of deaf ears across the state.
During his public statement (he didn't take questions), Nienstedt told media that upon his arrival he was told "this whole issue of clerical sex abuse had been taken care of" and that he didn't have to worry about it. He believed it and moved on. Now he is paying the price before the judges in the court of public opinion.
Nienstedt didn't make excuses, apologized for overlooking the issue and admitted he should have investigated it "a lot more than I did." We respect his candor and willingness to take responsibility, but that won't wipe his slate clean. And saying he was "surprised as anyone else," surely didn't help his cause, or the church's. In a position of such great leadership, Nienstedt should've done his due diligence, regardless of what he was told. Had he, perhaps those blinders wouldn't have been put on and he wouldn't have been so "surprised." This issue is just too damaging, too sensitive and personal, for him to have assumed anything.
Through this all, we need to remember that most of the allegations of sexual abuse against the priests listed happened decades ago, and while that doesn't take away the sharp pain felt by victims and their families still trying to heal, parents of young children today, no matter how much their faith in the Catholic church is shaken, must continue to support their church and those who lead it.
It's up to them to decide if the archdiocese has handled this fluid situation to the best of its abilities, and it's up to them to search inside themselves to determine when they're ready to forgive and move on, if they haven't already.