As of Monday, Archbishop John C Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche have resigned as some of the top Catholic officials in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota after charges of sexual abuse against the archdiocese.
These resignations come two weeks after Ramsey County Attorney John Choi filed six criminal charges against the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese for encouraging, causing or contributing to the sexual abuse of three victims by a priest in 2010 and 2011. The priest in question, Curtis Wehmeyer, was convicted in February 2013 on 20 felony charges of sexual abuse against minors and possession of child pornography.
Nienstedt’s resignation also follows his own allegations of inappropriately touching a boy during a public photo session in 2013. It also follows his decision to promote Wehmeyer, of which he still professes to have a clear conscience about. Many activists for victims of priests are happy with the resignation, but want him to be held responsible for enabling other priests to prey on children.
Nienstedt and Piche are not the only clergymen to come under fire over the past while. The Vatican also indicted Josef Wesolowski the former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, on charges of sexual abuse of minors in the Dominican Republic. This is monumental and will set precedence as Wesolowski will be the highest-ranking Vatican official to stand trial for a sex crime.
These resignations have been sought for for the past few years. It is also promising because these resignations indicate that Pope Francis is sticking to his promise that no one will be able to escape the punishments for sexually abusing children and allowing for the sexual abuse of children to continue within the church. On Friday, Pope Francis even approved the creation of the new tribunal within the Vatican to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect minors, this and the resignation of top American church officials only mean that the Church is headed in the right direction to ensure the protection of children and to ensure justice for those who were not previously protected.