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Archbishop Nienstedt says he ‘overlooked’ priest-abuse issue

Deer seeking refuge from deep snow, cold; Serlin’s closing ends East Side era; sales tax exemption aids local governments; curling team qualifies for Olympics; 6th District forum; and more.

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun

An interesting choice of words … For MPR, Tom Scheck covered Archbishop John Nienstedt’s “apology” to parishioners at Our Lady of Grace in Edina. “Nienstedt has started addressing the clergy sex abuse scandal head on, telling parishioners and the media Sunday that he’s sorry he overlooked issues of abuse among parish priests. Nienstedt said mass at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Edina. He told parishioners and reporters after mass that he was told the issue of clergy sex abuse was taken care of when he became archbishop seven years ago. … Neinstedt did not take any questions. … His decision to speak at Our Lady of Grace comes at a critical time for area churches since Christmas is a top fundraising period. Our Lady of Grace historically gives the most of any parish to the Catholic Services Appeal — a collection that helps cover the general operating budget of the archdiocese.”

The Strib’s Pat Pfeifer writes:Archdiocese officials Sunday banned reporters from speaking to anyone inside the building or on church property, although members of the media were allowed to listen to the archbishop speak. A church official said that the early mass typically draws a large congregation and the children’s choir that performed during the service increased attendance even more. … The meeting with the media was Nienstedt’s first since the list of names was released. For the past few months, he has mostly refused media requests for interviews and addressed the public about the scandal in written statements.”

For KMSP-TV, Lindsay LaBelle reports: “At St. Frances Cabrini church in Minneapolis, some parishioners took a moment to read the Sunday homily with mixed reactions. ‘He is apologizing— he’s apologizing for others’ actions. But before you apologize, you need to explain your own actions. That’s what he’s failed to do,’ Father Mike Tegeder of St. Frances Cabrini said. Tegeder remains critical of the way Archbishop Nienstedt is handling the growing allegations in recent months of priest sexual misconduct and possible cover ups and wants to know why a court order was needed to release the names of 34 priests last week, accused of child sex abuse. ‘I have hope definitely that we can get through this, but I don’t think he’s the one who can get us through this,’ he said.”

Rotten weather even for deer … Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune says: “Deep snow and deep cold already are pushing northern Minnesota’s white-tailed deer into mid-winter patterns. They’re seeking cover in conifers and, along the North Shore, probably will be moving down from the ridges to where snow is less deep, biologists say. Duluth wildlife photographer Michael Furtman has been in the field, and he has seen deer coping with the snow and cold. … With most of their high-energy food sources now covered by snow, deer are reduced to browsing on the less-nutritious twigs of trees and brush. So, rather than expend lots of energy browsing on twigs, the deer simply minimize their movements.” Kind of like your shiftless uncle.

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How can the East Side ever be the same? Jess Fleming of the PiPress says: “By the time the sign was flipped to ‘Closed’ for the last time at Serlin’s Cafe, Judy Walters couldn’t bring herself to talk about it anymore. Three generations of her family (her mom, niece, nephew, sister and three daughters) had worked at the East Side cafe, and Walters, 62, had been serving patrons there for 45 years. … Customers on Saturday hugged Walters and 7-year employee Candy Lyons, and brought gifts for Al and Gary Halvorsen, the brothers who took over the tiny, 45-seat eatery when their stepdad, Irv Serlin could no longer cook 18 years ago. The Halvorsen brothers are retiring. … The space will live on as a restaurant, but the name and the menu will change. It’ll be remodeled, too. Partners Charles Cook and Eddie Wu III, who helped with service on the last day, will reopen as Cook St. Paul after the 67-year-old diner is brought up to code. The booths will be removed, and a first-floor bathroom will be added.”

A tax break … for government. Brian Bakst of the AP says: “As part of a budget deal in May, the Legislature exempted most local government purchases from the state’s 6.875 percent sales tax beginning in the new year, which collectively will save cities and counties tens of millions of dollars each year. The months of lead time caused some local leaders to postpone big equipment purchases or let supplies run lower than normal. … The state’s 87 counties and more than 850 cities paid an estimated $54 million in sales taxes in 2012, according to a report compiled by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Minnesota Inter-County Association. A Department of Revenue projection puts the potential savings much higher — about $130 million in the first full year.”

Clear space in the trophy cabinet … Rachel Blount of the Strib writes: “Winning the U.S. Olympic curling trials should have been cause for celebration, but John Shuster and his crew knew their task was only half complete. The Duluth skip and his Minnesota teammates still had to qualify for a place in the 2014 Winter Olympics, leaving them with some serious work to do before the party could start in earnest. The foursome finally got to raise that long-delayed toast Sunday. They rallied to beat the Czech Republic 8-5 in the last game of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Fuessen, Germany, to claim the final spot in the Sochi Olympics.”

There was a 6th District GOP candidate forum this past weekend. Jennifer Brooks of the Strib drew the short straw: “Three rivals for Michele Bachmann’s congressional seat found a great deal of common ground at a Saturday night candidate forum in Andover. Three of the four declared Republican candidates — former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah and state Sen. John Pederson — squared off at a forum hosted by the Sixth District Republicans. Although ‘squared off’ might be too strong a term for an event where the candidates staked out similar positions on issues ranging from abortion to immigration to the budget deal Congress hammered out this weekend. All three blasted the bipartisan budget agreement that will avert the threat of a government shutdown for the next two years. All three said they would vote against similar deals in the future if they’re the one the voters decide to send to Washington.” I hope they show a principled commitment to Benghazi and Obama’s birth certificate …

A “constitutional” rebuttal by a local attorney to the view that companies should not be allowed to impede their employees’ health care options. Says David Murrin in a Strib commentary: “The Dec. 1 editorial (“Religion as a sword in the ACA debate”), criticizing those who take exception to providing contraceptives and abortifacient drugs under Obamacare, was both factually and legally off the mark. … what makes the contraception mandate so unjust and clearly targeted against socially conservative Christians is that Obamacare does already provide many accommodations to certain religions, such as Christian Scientists. It’s not just private companies that suffer at the hands of the Obamacare contraception mandate. Religious schools, free Christian medical clinics, soup kitchens, companies with less than 50 employees who choose to offer health insurance (although not legally required to do so) and even individuals in state-run exchanges will all face penalties for not complying.” There must be something somewhere in the Constitution that explicitly prohibits government-mandated rights.