Monday, May 07, 2007

Twin Cities Catholics expect changes under doctrinaire archbishop

~from Pioneer Press about newly-appointed Bishop Nienstedt to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Lucker had served as a beloved bishop for 25 years in New Ulm, Minn., before his death in 2001. In the book's introduction, he wrote about "changing formulations of church teaching." Lucker believed Catholics should have a dialogue about the ordination of women and married priests and should review the church's stance on the morality of same-sex unions.

Nienstedt's brand of theology had little room for such dissent. Writing in the diocesan newsletter two and a half years after Lucker's death, he denounced the late bishop's views and warned that questioning church authority places a person "spiritually in peril of losing eternal life."

"It was a really unnecessary and deep insult to a man who had recently died, a man who had given his life to the church," recalled Thomas Roberts, editor in chief of the National Catholic Reporter. "Just months after a person has died and you come into a diocese and declare him theologically suspect?"

As members of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are sure to discover in the months and years ahead, Nienstedt is direct. Last month, the 60-year-old Detroit native was named coadjutor archbishop, meaning he will succeed Archbishop Harry Flynn when Flynn retires next year.

Those who knew Nienstedt in New Ulm, where he was named bishop in 2001, describe him in terms ranging from "a good administrator" to "a micromanager," from "a consummate man of the church" to someone who tolerates little dissent when it comes to questions about the church's authority.

Nearly everyone agrees he is intelligent and ambitious. "I can see him appointed a cardinal," said a former lay employee of the Diocese of New Ulm.

Those familiar with the Catholic Church believe Nien-stedt's selection by the Vatican is part of a trend toward more conservative leadership. After the Second Vatican Council ended in 1965, some believe the church became more tolerant of progressive or liberal approaches to some Catholic orthodoxy.

The pendulum now seems to be swinging the other way, and some see the appointment of archbishops like Nienstedt as part of that....

...Nienstedt wrote in a September 2003 column that while dissent may be acceptable in a democracy, "We run into problems ... when dissent is applied to a religious creed that is divinely revealed."

And because "truth is revealed by Christ, only he can change it," he wrote in the column. Only the Catholic Church "teaches that truth in its fullness," he said.

"I believe the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Jesus Christ," he told the Catholic Spirit in the interview published Thursday. "I wouldn't have given up my life, I wouldn't have given up a family and a wife, if I didn't believe that."

1 comment:

Rusty said...

Please, please, make this guy a Cardinal. :)

You know he's got to be good if the dissenters and the media paint him in a bad light.