Today is the Feast Day of St. Raymund Nonnatus, according to the traditional Lives of the Saints by Fr. Alban Butler, read about this Saint at http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots274.htm
Sexual Abuse, a Strange Case
This article from one of the pioneering investigators of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Randy Engel, is disturbing, another in a long line of horror stories.
Who can expect the flock to prosper when its shepherd has sunk so deep into the bowels of the devil … Who will make a mistress of a cleric, or a woman of a man? … Who, by his lust, will consign a son whom he spiritually begotten for God to slavery under the iron law of Satanic tyranny.
… a religious superior guilty of sodomy has not only committed a sacrilege with his spiritual son but has also violated the law of nature. Such a superior, damns not only his own soul but takes another with him.
Saint Peter Damian Book of Gomorrah 1049 A.D.
More than 900 years ago, Saint. Peter Damian spoke out against the “the befouling cancer of sodomy,” not only as it pertained to crimes of pederasty by clergy against young boys, but also to the sexual seduction and moral pollution of young men preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
I’ve always thought it strange that the Vatican, while rightly condemning clerical sexual abuse against minors, has been strangely silent concerning the sexual abuse of seminarians and young priests and monks by their own bishops or religious superiors.
This brings us to the case in point – that of Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who was forced to resign from office in 2015 amid accusations of sexual misconduct with men. According to the Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, Nienstedt’s successor, the Archbishop Emeritus remains “in good-standing.” But “good-standing” with whom?
Richard Sipe on the Value of Rumors in Sex Crimes
Throughout this article, the reader will come upon indented texts written in a bold italicized font concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by Archbishop Nienstedt that cover a span of more than four decades. The origins of these texts vary. Some italicized texts were taken from sworn affidavits or given as sworn testimony in a court of law. Some texts are based on “rumors” circulating in the diocesan chancery or within the “gay” community.
Lest the reader be tempted to dismiss the latter category of evidence as mere “gossip,” I am including in this introduction a commentary on the value of rumors, suspicions and complaints in dealing with sexual violations of minors and vulnerable adults, including young seminarians and religious, made by the well-known psychotherapist A. W. Richard Sipe in testimony given on April 12, 2004.
The following excerpts (emphasis added) are taken from the online presentation Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson – An Overview of the System of Sexual Activity and Abuse Within the Clerical Culture of the Roman Catholic Church in the USA, Section 41.IV “There is Widespread Knowledge of Clergy Sexual Activity Through Suspicion/Rumor/Complaint/Report:”
- Sexual violations by their nature are difficult to substantiate because the actions are most commonly executed without a third-party observer. The means of determining the facts of an allegation or the truth of denial are usually derivative rather than direct.51. Rumors, hearsay, about abusing priests are common and a valid source of information and an important means of child protection if respected and adequately investigated. Rumors form a valid alert to danger and are frequently the most powerful indication to church officials of abuse. The source of these rumors often is grounded in the fact of abuse that can be shared by the victim only with one of his or her equally powerless friends or family members. … Knowledge by rumor can be widespread and has been available for investigation within the clerical community for decades.
52. Bishops and superiors most frequently irresponsibly and negligently dismiss rumors without reasonable investigation. Bishops, many who also fear exposure of their own sexual activities, have continued to exclude themselves from oversight in the directives they instituted in 2002 to deal with the problem of abuse by priests and other church employees.
All of the italicized citations made in this series were taken from affidavits, depositions, and secret memorandums found in the Ramsey County Report and are available online at the official website Ramsey County, MN.
The St. Paul Law Firm of Greene Espel conducted the first investigation into Archbishop Nienstedt’s alleged homosexual behaviors. The follow-up investigation was conducted by the law firm of Wold Morrison of Minneapolis. And the third overall investigation into the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and Archbishop Nienstedt was carried out by the Ramsey County Attorney Office (RCAO).
A Career on the Fast Track
As even a very perfunctory reading of Nienstedt ‘s curriculum vitae will demonstrate, from his earliest years in both his home Archdiocese of Detroit and at the Vatican, he enjoyed powerful patronage and lived his priestly life on the fast track.
Nienstedt was born on March 18, 1947 in Detroit, Mich. He was the second of six children. His original family home was at Grosse Pointe Farms on Lake St. Clair. Later, his parents moved north to Harrison Township near Anchor Bay not far from Lake Huron where Nienstedt would spend much of his later years after leaving the Twin Cities area.
He attended Catholic grade school and high school in Grosse Pointe Farms and in 1969 he entered Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. In 1972, Archbishop, soon to be Cardinal, John Francis Dearden sent the handsome young Nienstedt to study in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned his Bachelor of Sacred Theology. He also attended the Pontifical North American College where he was ordained deacon for the Detroit Archdiocese.
Nienstedt then returned to the States and served as deacon at Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn from 1973 until his ordination at age 27 on July 27, 1974, again at Sacred Heart.
The Hinske Affair
Father Nienstedt’s first assignment was associate pastor at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson. Here he reconnected to some close relatives from the Hinske family including Nienstedt’s first cousin, who was a former Dominican nun, and her son, Michael and daughter, Mary Beth.
When the newly ordained priest visited his cousin’s home for Sunday dinners he was often accompanied by clerical friends. On several occasions, Nienstedt brought with him Father Samuel Ritchey, a priest of the Columbus (Ohio) Diocese.
According to Nienstedt, he first met Father Samuel E. Ritchey at the Pontifical North American College in Rome when both were seminarians and they struck up a close friendship. During the summer months of 1974 and 1975, Ritchey, also newly ordained, studied at Mary Grove College in Detroit, and continued to visit the Hinske family with Nienstedt. He also developed a special interest in 16-year-old Michael Hinske.
Even after Nienstedt had returned to Rome to earn his Licentiate of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Institute of St. Alphonsus, Ritchey continued to frequent the Hinske household.
One evening he and Michael went to a nearby Catholic retreat center. At some point the priest asked the teenager back to his room at the center and then turned off the lights. Ritchey told the boy “I love you,” and started to undress the boy despite Michael’s opposition. When Ritchey fumbled with his pants Michael told him, “I don’t want to do this,” but the priest proceeded to molest the teen anyway.
Before Michael returned home, he got up the courage to ask the Ritchey how many other kids the priest had done this to, and to his surprise the priest replied, “‘I have several special friends that come from my parish.” And when he said that, Michael instantly knew he was not the first kid that Ritchey’s had molested.
That same night Michael told his parents that Father Ritchery had molested him. A few days later he confided the news to his sister. His mother wanted to tell Nienstedt, but her cousin was in Rome. Unfortunately, as a devout Catholic in the mid-1970s, there were no thoughts of causing “scandal” by reporting the sexual abuse to her pastor at Guardian Angels or to the police.
So, Michael and his family kept the abuse a secret until Nienstedt returned from Rome in January 1977.
Retrieved August 31, 2018 from http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/engel/180830