Friday, April 27, 2007

More on Co-Adjutor Archbishop Nienstedt

The Pioneer Press has an article on Archbishop Nienstedt which reveals more about the man. We like it when certain newspapers call such folks "hardliners" because that usually means they have their head on straight and aren't disoriented when it comes to Catholic doctrine. Archbishop Burke is probably considered a "hardliner". We simply call it Bishops with backbones!

Here are some excerpts from the article at Pioneer Press via Free Republic with my emphases in bold, comments in red brackets.

Conservative bishop to succeed Flynn
A lauded liturgist, administrator, New Ulm conservative also is known for controversy
Pioneer Press

Roman Catholic Bishop John Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn., a theological conservative who has taken on Hollywood, stem-cell research and people who make too much noise in church, was named Tuesday to succeed Archbishop Harry Flynn.

The announcement by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis that Nienstedt, 60, had been named "coadjutor archbishop" ended months of speculation over who would succeed Flynn, who will step down when he turns 75 next year.

Flynn, who has been archbishop since 1996, introduced Nienstedt at the archdiocese's chancery in St. Paul. He called Nienstedt "such a capable bishop" and said he had "broad experience that will serve him well."

But Nienstedt's time as bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm has not been without controversy. While Flynn and others lauded him as an able administrator and liturgist, some of his actions have rankled his own priests and parishioners in the diocese he has led since August 2001.

Soon after being named bishop in New Ulm, he condemned some of the theological views of the man who had held the post before him for 25 years, Bishop Raymond Lucker, a noted progressive clergyman who died in 2001. Denouncing his predecessor's views was an "extraordinary step," the National Catholic Reporter noted in an article on the incident. [Bishop Lucker was a proud member of Call to Action, and if you want to understand his "theology" you can click through the google list and get an idea, and see what kind of groups enjoyed it]

As bishop in New Ulm, Nienstedt prohibited cohabitating couples from being married in Catholic churches. He barred female pastoral administrators from leading prayers at a semiannual leadership event. He once disciplined a priest for holding joint ecumenical services with a Lutheran congregation after the Catholic church had been destroyed by a tornado. [Keep in mind that an ecumenical service is fine outside the context of holy Mass, but it cannot be held in place of Mass]

Kenneth Irrgang, a retired priest who clashed with Nienstedt when he was bishop in New Ulm, predicted that Nienstedt will meet resistance among the 654 active priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"I expect disaster there. I don't think those priests are going to accept him," said Irrgang, who now lives in St. Cloud. "He's a micromanager. He has to control everything. He hews the line from the Vatican without any question whatsoever. He's not a very good people person." [The sky is falling! The sky is falling! A highly educated man who understands basic Catechism is taking the helm]

But the Rev. Philip M. Schotzko of the Church of St. Peter in St. Peter, Minn., praised Nienstedt's abilities.

"Bishop Nienstedt is a consummate man of the church," said Schotzko. "He thinks with, prays with and loves the church with everything he's got. He just follows very carefully the teachings and all aspects of church theology and moral teachings. You'll get a very committed man in that way."

He said Nienstedt is "gifted in many ways as a liturgist" and considers him "a good organizer and planner and administrator."

According to his church biography, Nienstedt was born in Detroit, the second of six children. He completed his theological education at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was ordained into the priesthood in July 1974.


Nienstedt called on government and people to "curb the scientist's thirst for novelty" by ending the research. In a later column on the subject, he called legislation allowing stem-cell research "a very misguided, political attack on human life," and said, "there have been no medical cures resulting from the use of embryonic stem cells."

He also used his column to air his views on homosexuality, saying people became gay or lesbian as a "result of psychological trauma" when a child is between the ages of 18 months and 3. Homosexuality, he wrote, "must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc."

Nienstedt also advised parishioners to avoid the movies "Brokeback Mountain" - "a story of lust gone bad," he wrote - and "The Da Vinci Code." He said Dan Brown's best-selling novel, later turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks, was "pure Evil in its intent" and "seeks to confuse the young, whose faith may be weak, and lead them astray."

In a column from June with the headline "Silence," Nienstedt complained about people talking while he prepared for weekend liturgies, saying it was a "din of noise ... not unlike that of a sports arena."

"I have tried to overhear what is so important that people need to speak in church," he wrote. "Normally comments range from one's view of the weather, to a recent sports event, to how old Uncle Henry is looking. None of it is essential. None of it has to be spoken at that time."

Well, there you have it. This is more proof that there is a shift in attitude at the episcopal level. This generation of bishops will work with a good understanding of basic catechism, basic theology and morality, and basic liturgy. It doesn't take ten university degrees to understand the Catholic faith, and for a bishop, to act on it.

We will add Archbishop Nienstedt to our Bishops with Backbone tag. Scroll down to see more and I'll be sifting through old posts to put some other posts within this new tag.

See my introductory post on Archbishop Nienstedt