Ex-Vicar General Suggested Archbishop Nienstedt Resign

Updated: 05/29/2014 7:56 AM
Created: 05/28/2014 3:49 PM
By: Beth McDonough

 A newly-released deposition shows the former top deputy at the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis suggested that Archbishop John Nienstedt consider the option of resigning in light of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

The Rev. Peter Laird resigned as the archdiocese's vicar general last fall.  Laird was the second in command, which means from 2009-2013 he was in charge of investigations, a whistleblower on the inside.

According to Laird's court deposition made public Wednesday, he also suggested the resignation option to Nienstedt twice as the archdiocese struggled to respond to allegations that it mishandled clergy accused of abusing children.

“I think leaders have a responsibility to be accountable for decisions whenever they take place in an organization, and to signal trust. And the most important thing is that the archdiocese doesn’t have anything to hide, and let transparency work it’s course," Laird said during the deposition.

Laird said Nienstedt listened and responded, "I hope it's not true."

Yet, when asked by attorneys in a deposition a month earlier if he'd been notified about the alleged sex abuse, Nienstedt replied, "I did not."

Laird resigned abruptly in October, the same day allegations emerged that church officials knew a priest had been in possession of child pornography but continued to assign him to parish duties that brought him into contact with children.

The Diocese posted Laird's videotaped deposition and transcript on it's website as part of it's, "renewed commitment to transparency and disclosure."

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a written statement, they are "grateful that Laird made this recommendation but they think what he should have done is call police and prosecutors, like whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger did."

The statement also went on to say they believe that Pope Francis should fire Nienstedt.

Laird also testified he didn't have contact with police.  St. Paul officers have since investigated several cases.  They've turned over their findings to the Ramsey County Prosecutor's office for review.

The archdiocese is not releasing a statement in response to this deposition.

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