Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt writes in a new column to the faithful that he is hiring an outside firm to review of clergy files at the archdiocese.

Nienstedt’s ordered the review after a new wave of allegations of priest sexual abuse and recent revelations that archdiocese leaders tried to keep the accusations private.

“This is unacceptable,” Nienstedt wrote in a column published Thursday in The Catholic Spirit, the official publication of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “As the head of this local Church, I know that the ultimate responsibility here is mine. My heart is heavy with the agony that these errors have caused.”

Nienstedt also apologized to victims, their families and to those who’s faith has been shaken by the allegations.

“To those who have been hurt, to the victims of clergy abuse and their family members, I can only tell you how sorry I am,” he wrote. “The sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult is reprehensible, morally repugnant and goes against Christ’s teachings to promote goodness, life and light. This is not who we are as the Catholic Church.”

Nienstedt has been under fire from local Catholics for his handling of alleged abuse claims. The Rev. Bill Deziel, pastor at The Church of St. Peter in North St. Paul, wrote to his 6,000 congregants in Sunday’s church bulletin that it might be time for complete remake of the local archdiocese leadership. A local attorney started a petition drive demanding Nienstedt step aside.

The church has not made enough progress in snuffing out sexual abuse by priests, Nienstedt said. He personally vowed to do better.

“With genuine sorrow, I apologize to all those who have been victimized, whether on my watch or not,” he said. “Can we do better? I believe we can.”

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