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Nienstedt resignation could boost donations to church

Plus: Hennepin County child protective services “overloaded”; Toyota won’t get new trial; a rash of motorcycle crashes; and more.

Archbishop John NienstedtArchbishop John Nienstedt

MPR says, “The resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt could boost donations to the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities, where many parishioners have grown frustrated by his handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests. … Meanwhile, Catholic Charities has seen its revenue and donations hold steady or rise in recent years. President Tim Marx said the organization has stressed that it is independent of the archdiocese. But Marx thinks donors would have been more generous if not for the controversy surrounding the archdiocese.” Yeah, waiting to see bona fide improvement might be the wisest strategy.

More reports/reactions to the Nienstedt resignation: The Chicago Tribune says, “Prosecutors say church leaders failed to respond to ‘numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct’ by [Curtis] Wehmeyer from the time he entered seminary until he was removed from the priesthood in 2015. ‘I think there were a lot of people who could have supported him until they read the criminal complaint,’ Haselberger said Monday in a phone interview with the AP. She called the resignation of Nienstedt and his top aide, Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche, ‘a necessary and prudent step.’”

For The Catholic League, Bill Donohue writes, “Ever since Nienstedt criticized the gay movie, ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ he has been a marked man. The Star Tribune, the St. Cloud Times, Minnesota Public Radio, the New York Times, as well as an array of wayward priests, Catholic journalists, former Catholics, and unethical lawyers, have been out to get him.”

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For the Advocate, Trudy Ring says, “He was a leader of the 2012 effort to amend Minnesota’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage; voters rejected the amendment, and legislators passed a marriage equality law the following year. Last year, Nienstedt forced the resignation of a church music director who had married a same-sex partner. He also has said Satan is behind the movement for ‘the redefinition of marriage,’ and he once wrote to the mother of a gay son that her ‘eternal salvation may well depend’ on her acceptance of the Catholic Church’s teachings against homosexuality.”

For KMBC-TV down in Kansas City, Mike Mahoney says, “Two of the top officials in the Catholic Church in Minnesota have resigned in a child sex scandal with similarities to the one that rocked Kansas City’s diocese. … Kansas City bishop Rev. Robert Finn resigned last month after having been convicted of not promptly reporting a child abuse case to authorities. Last week, Pope Francis announced a new process of accountability for clerics who cover up abuse. ‘With the resignation of Bishop Finn here last month and the resignation of Archbishop Nienstedt in Minnesota this morning, it really points to a different attitude in the Vatican,’ said John Coday, editor of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent Kansas City-based newspaper covering the church. The paper’s lead editorial talks about the tribunal being a new phase in the church abuse crisis.”

Who didn’t suspect this? Brandon Stahl and Rochelle Olson of the Strib say, “The safety of abused children in Hennepin County is compromised because of an underfunded child protection system whose workers are overloaded and undersupported and lack ‘a sense of urgency,’ according to a report released last week by a national child welfare foundation. … While the Casey report looked solely at Hennepin County, many of the issues the assessment raises are nearly identical to statewide problems found by a task force appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton, who formed the task force following the Star Tribune’s reporting on systemic failures in child protection, including the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean, whose suspected maltreatment had been reported 15 times to Pope County before he was killed in February 2013.”

We don’t care who you are. No new trial. Randy Furst of the Strib says, “In a major defeat for the Toyota Motor Co., U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery ruled Monday that a jury had reached a reasonable conclusion that an accelerator defect was the key factor in a fatal car crash in St. Paul in 2006 and the auto company was not entitled to a new trial. … The 67-page decision rejected a slew of Toyota’s arguments and affirmed most of the $11 million that the jury awarded the plaintiffs. The judge also added interest that drives the verdict amount past $13 million.”

He must have heard about the medical marijuana law. Maury Glover at KMSP-TV reports, “If you see Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson around town in the upcoming weeks, don’t be shocked. The veteran actor will be in town filming his new movie ‘Wilson,’ is based on a graphic novel by Ghost World Writer Daniel Clowes and is about an opinionated jerk who tries to reconcile with his ex-wife, played by Laura Dern, and meets a daughter he never knew he had.”

A rash of crashes. Stribber Paul Walsh on motorcycle deaths in Minnesota: “Three motorcyclists were killed in three crashes around the state over a warm and clear summertime weekend, authorities said. The first of the crashes occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday, when Justin J. Posusta, 24, crashed at the intersection of Lacy Court and Lindsey Lane near his Belle Plaine home, police said. The motorcycle kept going without its helmetless operator, went through a chain-link fence, rammed a home and punctured a natural gas line, according to police.”

Someone’s struggling with social media. Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie has a funny tale from Willmar. “It’s been a stormy few years for the Willmar City Council, the West Central Tribune’s editorial board noted in a May editorial, Willmar City Council members are losing our trust.’ And the council members are sensitive to public opinion, we learned in Willmar Labor Relations Committee discusses limits to open forums,’ a news report later in the month. But tonight, the Willmar City Council had its own moment of zen on twitter when West Central Tribune education beat reporter Linda Vanderwerf tweeted about their fear of a tweeted planet … .”