Two US Bishops Resign in Wake of Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Holy_Rosary_Church,_MinneapolisA US archbishop and his auxiliary bishop have resigned in the wake of withering public criticism and internal church chaos in Minnesota. The resignations come on the heels of Pope Francis’ announcement that he will establish a special tribunal to investigate bishops who mishandle priest sex abuse allegations.

Over the weekend, St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché resigned their leadership posts in the midst of mounting criticism of their roles in the mishandling of priest sex abuse allegations in their archdiocese.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Nienstedt wrote to his priests about his resignation, saying, “I would have preferred to share this with you in person, but the desire of the Holy See to announce this made it impossible to wait.”

The news of the resignations comes at a particularly difficult period for the Catholic Church in the United States. Decades of sex abuse scandal has diminished public confidence in the church and US bishops are starting to feel more pressure to resign. Already Bishop Robert Finn, formerly of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, has resigned after being criminally convicted for failing to report sexual abuse of a minor.

As the scandal spreads to other countries, international Church officials are also facing criminal and career pressure. Former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who left his post in 2013 after being accused of sexual misconduct with minors, will stand trial next month at the Vatican with possible “international legal cooperation.” Former archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, a Polish-born prelate who served in the Latin American country from 2008 to August 2013, will stand trial beginning July 11, the Vatican announced Monday.

All this bad news about the Catholic Church may be good news for survivors of sexual abuse, who have waited years to see church leaders be held more accountable for their actions and their inaction. Many victims’ advocates believe that no real reform could ever be realized until church leaders such as bishops be made to take responsibility for their role in the sex scandals that damages so many Catholic children.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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