A new day in St. Paul-Minneapolis

A new day in St. Paul-Minneapolis

The resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt in St. Paul-Minneapolis came after nearly two years of patience at the Vatican, which generally prefers a bishop to put his diocese in order rather than be yanked from office. Despite Nienstedt's efforts to make some changes, it was clear that the problems were not going away.

Filing for bankruptcy four months ago was bad, but worse came 10 days ago, when a local prosecutor announced he would bring charges against the archdiocese for failing to protect children. That meant the drumbeat of bad news would continue for the foreseeable future.

On Minnesota Public Radio this morning, I took a long look at the implications of the resignation and possible future steps. I've been a member of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese for a couple of years now, and I think many Catholics here recognize that Archbishop Nienstedt's departure will not solve all the problems.

I'm glad the pope did not immediately name the archbishop's successor. I hope it is a sign that the Vatican is going to take the time to carefully evaluate the needs of the archdiocese. I see two key priorities. First, the Vatican should involve lay Catholics in the selection process. In practice, that can range from listening sessions in local parishes to canvassing for local candidates. We should move beyond the point where Rome's choices simply parachute in to dioceses, with no connection to their new flock.

Second, the Vatican needs to choose someone who does not see the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis merely as a set of problems. There are many good people and good priests here, lively parishes and a history of service to others. These are invaluable resources, and a new archbishop will need them. 



3 comments (Add your own)

1. Fr Ray Blake wrote:
John, Local involvement is fine in theory, but how and who: in practice it is likely to perpetuate or even exacerbate local problems.
Obviously it is something we need to move towards but perhaps Nuncioes, with advisers, making a thorough visitation of a vacant diocese could be a first step. Another could be less secrecy about who is on the Nuncio's and Episcopal Conference's list for preferment.

Making public the terner, or more simply publicising the name of a prospective candidate, like reading the banns of marriage, before the actual appointment is made, could be a way of avoiding later scandals

Tue, June 16, 2015 @ 1:41 AM

2. Isabel Sinton wrote:
The Vatican . . . prefers a bishop to put his diocese in order rather than be yanked from office ? How did the diocese get out of order ? This bishop? Yup.

Tue, June 16, 2015 @ 7:53 AM

3. John Cahill wrote:
In the days of Jadot, broad input was sought from the diocese. Not in terms of names, but it terms of needs. Dioceses did a kind of self-evaluation overseen by a steering committee which was broadly representative of the folks in the diocese and identified strengths and weaknesses, hopes and regrets. A report was forwarded to the Apostolic Nuncio. It worked very well for us when Bishop William Hughes was appointed. While he was bishop the personnel board used a similar process for the selection of pastors. The committee met with the parish staff and councils and then with the parish in an open meeting. When an opening occurred all the priests in the diocese received a fact sheet (number of parishioners, parish staff and programs in effect, financials) and a summary of the comments from the meetings with the various parish groups. Priests could then apply if they thought they would be a good fit and the personnel board reviewed the applications and usually selected someone who had applied. Occasionally they would choose someone else who they thought would be a better fit even if that person had not applied. It is not necessary to surface names for the diocese as a whole to have an effective voice in the selection of its next bishop.

Tue, June 16, 2015 @ 5:18 PM

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