Resignation of Archbishop Nienstedt: A step in the right direction and a time for reckoning

(St. Paul, MN) – The resignations of Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piché and acceptance of them by the Vatican signals an important step in the necessary reckoning in the child abuse crisis.  It is equally important to note that the resignation of one or two men from high positions does not in any way signal the end to the crisis or deal with the scope of the problem. It does signal that finally there is a small measure of reckoning under pressure.  That pressure has been brought because of the courage of the survivors and the Minnesota Legislature.  It is the opening of the courthouse doors by the legislature and courageous survivors bringing scores of lawsuits that led to the body of evidence—documents, secret files, depositions (see that created the pressure and exposure.

The resignations come as no surprise. The volume of documents and disclosures that have been disgorged through litigation, testimony given by the top officials and the body of evidence that has been developed by the civil suits and the investigation done by Ramsey County Attorney’s office foreshadowed the resignations, but still falls short of full accountability.  It falls short of full accountability because this whole problem is not about one man or two bishops.  It is about the system that’s entrenched in the old ways and adhering to secrecy and self-governance operating above the law.

The journey is far from over, the struggle remains to cause and create full accountability and reckoning for those who are complicit in the crimes and the reckless handling of so many priests.  But there is power in symbolism and this is a symbolic gesture of a time for reckoning.  To the survivors who have broken the silence and on whose shoulders we stand every day in this journey, we express gratitude.  Reckoning and transparency is truth—truth grows hope.