John Nienstedt, the Catholic archbishop who championed the failed effort to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, is facing a church investigation over allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with other men, including priests and seminary students.
“I believe that the investigators have received about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as Bishop of New Ulm, and while coadjutor and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” church whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger told the magazine Commonweal, adding that Nienstedt “also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”
Haselberger previously revealed that Neinstedt was failing to properly investigate instances of alleged sexual abuse by priests, including one priest who may have had an “unprofessional relationship” with Neinstedt.
Nienstedt vigorously denied the allegations, and stressed in his statements that none of the claims of sexual misconduct “involve minors.” Last year, he was investigated by local law enforcement for allegedly touching a boy’s buttocks during a confirmation ceremony, but was not charged.
Under Neinstedt, the archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul joined with fellow Minnesota dioceses to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-gay groups, together becoming the largest donor to the unsuccessful campaign pushing a state marriage amendment.
Neinstedt warned Catholics that “there ought not be open dissension” on the issue of marriage equality and urged them to pray against gay rights. According to the Minnesota LGBT site The Column, the archdiocese also “sent out more than 400,000 DVDs that urged voters to vote for candidates that supported putting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in 2012.”
During the campaign to ban marriage equality, Neinstedt said Satan is behind gay rights and called homosexuality a “grave evil.”
He has criticized the film Brokeback Mountain as an attack on Jesus Christ that would bring down society and described homosexuality as the “result of psychological trauma” that “must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc.”