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Archbishop Nienstedt won’t resign, vows to make changes

Responding to calls for his resignation, Archbishop John Nienstedt said Wednesday that he will remain at the helm of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Nienstedt has come under fire in recent months for his handling of clergy sex abuse cases.

“I have acknowledged my responsibility in the current crisis we face, and I also take responsibility for leading our archdiocese to a new and better day,” Nienstedt wrote in a column to be published in Thursday’s Catholic Spirit newsletter.

That “crisis” is the result of accusations and lawsuits against the archdiocese, church officials and priests regarding alleged child abuse and what some have called cover-up of crimes. Critics say Nienstedt and his predecessors did not take action to remove credibly accused priests from the ministry.

Nienstedt said he will not resign and will, instead, “apply these hard lessons that I have learned over the past months.”

The archbishop said he is creating “a new leadership team that operates under the philosophy of ‘Victims First’ ” and that he’s appointing a victim liaison. Nienstedt said the church has reached out to victims of abuse for their input.

He conceded that “we did not handle all complaints the way we should have in the past,” but said the archdiocese is trying to remain transparent and to create safe environments for children.

Nienstedt’s column also addresses an investigation he requested into claims that he had past inappropriate sexual relationships or contact with other men — something he has denied. He said he expects to be vindicated.

He apologized for his “administrative and personal style, with its strong point of view,” which he said may have offended and hurt people, and vowed a softer approach.

“The last year has helped me realize I need to change my administrative style, soften my words, and get out from behind the desk to spend more time with the faithful,” he wrote.

He closed by vowing to regain people’s trust.

“The challenges are there, to be sure, but we are more ready to tackle them now than at any time in our past history,” he wrote. “I know that we are making progress and there is a momentum to that. Still there is more to be done.”

Nienstedt gave interviews to some local media Wednesday.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.