First off, I will identify myself as one who believes that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman, instituted to continue the creation of the human race. I don’t want to leave anyone wondering what my stand is on that subject; seeing that the Star Tribune has let its readers know what its position is — even though its July 27 editorial (“To heal church, Nienstedt must go”) was not related to that subject. Or was it?)
Let me say second that the Editorial Board was absolutely right that a “secular” newspaper should not “advise a church about internal matters.” But getting back to external matters, the editorial cites many recent actions; it calls attention especially to a Minnesota Public Radio documentary that I assume goes back 25 years, showing how three archbishops have failed. Even the New York Times (that upstanding purveyor of truth) has zeroed in on Minnesota.
Maybe, just maybe, the archdiocese does need a “different” leader. But not a reformer. It needs an archbishop to erase all of the reforms instituted since the 1960s — reforms that probably contributed to today’s abuse. I certainly hope Archbishop John Nienstedt is that person.
Finally, a quote from one of the editorial writers’ fellow word guys: “The only really fair way of considering the fashionable subject of the crimes of Christendom would be to compare them with the crimes of heathenism; and the normal human practice of the Pagan world” — G.K. Chesterton.
James P. Lynch, Edina
• • •
Thank you for the calm, well-reasoned editorial advising Archbishop Nienstedt to step down as head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Even as a reader who has written several letters to the editor critical of Nienstedt’s moral leadership, I will confess that an editorial of this force in a secular newspaper caught me by surprise.
On first impact — and it was an impact — it seemed inappropriate for such an institution to speak out so boldly regarding a religious matter, but the Editorial Board quickly made clear that its stand is not against the Catholic Church or simply Nienstedt himself. It is a brave expression of respect for the moral authority of an institution that holds exceptional influence and power over the physical and spiritual well-being of entire communities.
I believe the linking of a retirement announcement from Nienstedt with that of Pope Benedict is generous, and offers our local church’s failed leadership an honorable motive to step aside at this time.
Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington
• • •
The editorial, along with the John Rash column “Muslim roots run deep in U.S. and in Minnesota” (July 26) bring to mind “one bad apple spoils the bunch.”
• Approximately 1 percent of America’s Catholic priests are reported to have committed some form of sexual abuse. Consequently, 99 percent of Catholic priests are further challenged to go forth and propagate the faith. Catholics and their leaders must deal with purging priests who betray their faith.
• Locally, a few (less than 1 percent) radicalized Somalis have harmed the credibility of Islam — despite Minnesota Muslims’ known ethic and community contributions. (As reported by John Rash, this month’s Minnesota International Center Great Decisions dialogue and the “Tracks in the Snow” exhibit demonstrate the many contributions of Muslims to everyday life in all parts of Minnesota.)
Devoted Catholics and Muslims are similarly challenged to forthrightly deal with “the prodigal 1 percent” who do so much damage to the credibility of their religions.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
• • •
The Editorial Board wrote: “Today, with sadness, this newspaper joins …” the call for Nienstedt to be removed from office. Then it said: “For the sake of one of this state’s most valued institutions and the Minnesotans whose lives it touches, Nienstedt’s service at the archdiocese should end now.”
What hypocrisy! With “sadness”? Over the years, the Star Tribune has been an outspoken critic of the archdiocese, the archbishop and the Catholic Church in general. It has always been clear to this reader that there has been a bias against Catholics and Catholic institutions in the paper.
Archbishop Nienstedt has been a stalwart enforcer of the church’s strong opposition to clerical abuse, and there is no credible evidence to the contrary, to say nothing about evidence of any personal misconduct of his own, which I am confident does not exist. The position the Star Tribune has taken is a continuation of its efforts over the years to diminish the Catholic Church. But I am confident it will not succeed.
Bill Warren, Bloomington
• • •
I was truly disappointed in the editorial. We must be very cautious in criticizing anyone, layperson or otherwise — unless, of course, there is factual information involved.
My heart goes out to Nienstedt. I feel he has been unfairly treated and criticized for quite some time. The editorial states that “[d]eservedly or not, Nienstedt has become the face of a coverup.” These matters did not just occur under his reign, as we well know.
The Star Tribune is being presumptuous and very judgmental in its commentary as a secular news organization.
Veda Sirek, New Prague
• • •
Pope Francis, for all his kindness and enlightenment, is severely failing to effectively address this ongoing gruesome abuse. If we objectively look past the ornate buildings, traditional rituals and claims of morality, our secular society — guided by the U.S. Constitution — should demand accountability from this man-made club known as the Catholic Church.
There’s nothing innately sacred or moral about the Catholic Church. Not one iota of respect should be automatically given to this institution. It’s a club with misogynistic proclivities (1 Timothy 2:11-12) that was established a long time ago with a long history of torturing and killing non-club members.
Today, the church appears to be led by incompetent, sexually repressed men. This wouldn’t necessarily be a public health issue if it weren’t for the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of vulnerable children who have been sexually victimized by men in this club.
So I do appreciate the Editorial Board’s public call for the removal of Nienstedt, but when the board writes that it’s been hesitant to do so because it’s “presumptuous for a secular news organization to advise a church about internal matters,” I shake my head. It’s the secular world that has shaped society, including religious institutions, to be more just, more ethical and more tolerant. It seems obvious to me that the church needs a healthy dose of secular-based accountability in order to achieve basic decency.
Eric Jayne, Apple Valley
The writer is president of Minnesota Atheists.