ROME — Former St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt says he would welcome an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct that he claims is untrue.
In a Monday email to The Associated Press, Nienstedt says it’s difficult to defend himself against the claims because it’s his word against the accusers’ and he doesn’t want to harm them.
Nienstedt was responding to a letter his successor, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, sent to the faithful on Friday in which he said Nienstedt was accused of inviting two minors to a hotel room in 2005 at a Vatican-organized youth rally in Germany to change out of wet clothes. Hebda said he forwarded that allegation to a Vatican official in 2016, after Nienstedt resigned.
Hebda said the allegation needs to be fully addressed before Nienstedt’s suitability for ministry can be determined and that Nienstedt won’t serve in public ministry in the archdiocese.
Nienstedt resigned as archbishop in 2015 after Minnesota prosecutors charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect children from a predator priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.
He was one of the first U.S. bishops known to have been forced from office for botching sex abuse investigations. But Nienstedt also faced allegations that he engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with adults, which he denied.