New Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis

John Clayton Niestedt, who was Bishop in New Ulm, is the new Coadjutor Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 


Il Papa ha nominato Arcivescovo Coadiutore di Saint Paul and Minneapolis (U.S.A.) S.E. Mons. John Clayton Nienstedt, finora Vescovo di New Ulm.

 S.E. Mons. John Clayton Nienstedt

S.E. Mons. John Clayton Nienstedt è nato il 18 marzo 1947 a Detroit (Michigan). Ha frequentato il Sacred Heart Seminary a Detroit per gli studi di filosofia e, per la teologia, la Pontificia Università Gregoriana, quale alunno del Pontificio Collegio Americano del Nord a Roma. Successivamente, si è laureato in Teologia morale presso l’Accademia Alfonsiana.

È stato ordinato sacerdote il 27 luglio 1974 per l’arcidiocesi di Detroit.

Dal 1974 al 1976 è stato vice-parroco nella Guardian Angels Parish a Clawson. Dal 1976 al 1977 è stato studente a Roma e, dal 1977 al 1980, Segretario del Cardinale Arcivescovo di Detroit. Dal 1980 al 1986 è stato Officiale presso la Segreteria di Stato. Nel 1986 è stato nominato vice-parroco nella Saint Regis Parish a Birmingham e contemporaneamente insegnante presso il Seminario SS. Cyril and Methodius a Orchard Lake. Dal 1986 al 1987 è stato Parroco della Saint Patrick’s Parish a Union Lake. Dal 1987 al 1988 è stato chiamato a riorganizzare il Seminario Sacred Heart a Detroit e, dal 1988 al 1994, ne è stato Rettore. Nel 1994 è stato nominato Parroco del Shrine of the Little Flower a Royal Oak.

Nominato Vescovo titolare di Alton ed Ausiliare dell’Arcivescovo di Detroit il 12 giugno 1996, ha ricevuto la consacrazione episcopale il 9 luglio successivo.

È stato trasferito alla diocesi di New Ulm il 12 giugno 2001.

In seno alla Conferenza Episcopale, ha ricoperto diversi incarichi: Membro del Comitato Amministrativo; Presidente della Commissione per la formazione permanente dei sacerdoti; membro dell’Ad hoc Committee on Catholic Health Care Issues; membro del Committee on Science and Human Values; membro dell’Ad hoc Committee Special Assembly 2007.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Joe says:

    This might be of interest in relation to Archbishop Nienstedt and the TLM.

  2. Jon says:

    I’m afraid I know nothing about Bishop Niensted, and don’t live in Minnesota, but was curious as to how his appointment to St. Paul/Minneapolis might reflect what I hope to be a new and healthy trend. So I did a little search over my coffee, and found this: Needless to say, it caused me to pause.

    Hopefully someone else out there can alter my impression.

  3. Geometricus says:

    Here’s one member of St.Paul/Mpls archdiocese who is cautiously optimistic. Bp. Nienstedt seems not to be the roaring lion some of us may have hoped for, but it seems he is not afraid to step on some toes occasionally:
    I am a bit disappointed at having a coadjutor. I had hoped that the pope would wait until Archbp. Flynn retired to appoint a successor, so that successor would feel freer to “clean house” and install his own people. But perhaps Nienstedt will clean house anyway. Anyone know his record in New Ulm?
    In any case, Bp. Nienstedt has my prayers from this day forward.

  4. afanco says:

    Neinstedt was once an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He confirmed me, and as far as I know he is good.

  5. afanco says:

    If a group like ARCC hates him, he must be good.

  6. Patrick Kinsale says:

    From the letter, it seems the bishop may have had a few good reasons to not give in to the family’s request.

  7. ray from mn says:

    I don’t see anything particularly unsettling about Bishop Nienstedt’s letter.

    New Ulm is a geographically large rural diocese with a small population whose Cathedral city has about 14,000. Few, if any other city in the Diocese might be much larger, none being over 20,000.

  8. ray from mn says:

    The letter from the “Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church” decrying Bishop Nienstedt’s decisions in New Ulm contained this sentence.

    “The late Ray Lucker nurtured a diocese of mature Catholics.”

    Former Bishop Raymond Lucker of New Ulm, now deceased, came from the Rembert Weakland school of the episcopacy. Among other things, Abp. Weakland of Milwaukee resigned when it was discovered that he was using Church funds to maintain his boyfriend so that their “secret” wouldn’t be revealed. I know nothing of Bishop Lucker’s personal life, but his reputation as a very liberal bishop remains.

  9. tim says:

    I’m with Patrick, in that it seems like there is at least one good reason for not granting the request– that the deceased had actually attended a different parish for a decade before this request– and so it seemed a little bit of asking for a whole lot in a short time.

    That being said, His Excellency does go on a bit much about the schismatic background of the promulgation of ecclesia dei, and ducks the issue of “pastoral sensitivity” to those in the diocese who would like the TLM. In other words, regardless of the number of priests, I think every diocese could have one, even just one, Sunday TLM at a reasonable time of day. One. That leaves plenty of priests and Mass times for Spanish, English or whatever other vernacular of the day one likes.

    I say the above without any personal knowledge of the situation, of course, and as such submit to fraternal correction if there is any to give.

    God bless.

  10. Patrick Kinsale says:

    For what it’s worth, more details on the Cain letter here:

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    In making episcopal appointments, the Pope does not always have the advantage of all the information that – especially now in the internet age – is readily available to the faithful.

  12. billsykes says:

    Frankly, while I wish Bp. Nienstedt had, with pastoral counseling, agreed to permit the TLM in this case, the perceived “disdain” which the family regard the NOM by itself left him no choice. That being said, I think he should have underscored that point.

  13. Justin says:

    The Bishop does seem like a very good choice for the Twin Cities. On the diocesan website, his pastoral columns to his flock are available. His very first was titled On the Necessity of Auricular Confession. This is a theme he has repeated in his columns (by devoting a full column to it) at least once every year throught his time there. In fact his last column on it, entitled Penance, written in Dec 2006 decried the abuse of General Absolution calling the lack of recognition of personal culpability, an evil.

    “..the misuse of the Rite has led to confusion about the sacramental nature of grace, a general denial of the seriousness of sin, a lessening of the importance of the priesthood and a loss of countless opportunities for spiritual growth. In my humble opinion, these results are the work of the Evil One.”

    Also in his columns, he has spoken of the necessity of strict adherence to the rubrics stating that no priest or bishop should ever alter the words spoken at Mass. In his homily for the close of the Eucharistic Year he preached about the traditional Catholic understanding of the Mass as the re-presentation of the one and same Sacrifice on calvary, and he went into great detail on the importance of Sunday Mass, the need to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace obtained in the confessional, and he explained very carefully the reasons against inter-communion with the Lutherans, going so far as to teach his flock the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation.

    All in all, he seems very sound.

  14. I agree with Geometricus, Bishop Nienstedt is going to need a strong
    personality to deal with the old Archbishop Roach cronies still in the Chancery.
    I am convinced that Archibishop Flynn is not always in control of his
    own house. There are too many hands in the pot over there.

    Perhaps, Bishop Nienstedt is already a man with a strong spine, I don’t know. I
    pray he is, because we need it.

    After the late Bishop Lucker almost ANYONE would have been an improvement in New Ulm.

    I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll just have to wait and see what he does, and
    what he does not do, when he gets here.

    Absolutely, he is in my prayers and so are the people of New Ulm who now need a new leader.

    I don’t think anyone should formulate their opinions of a man based upon one letter.

  15. KJ MacArthur says:

    I am surprised that no-one has mentioned that Bishop Nienstedt actually condemned some of the theological opinions of his predecessor Bishop Lucker. Bishop Lucker had co-edited a collection of theological papers of a “modernist” stripe (Revelation and the Church: Vatican II in the Twenty-first Century) and Bishop Nienstedt issued a public condemnation. I think it happened in 2004.

  16. tim says:

    Patrick, Wow. Tough letter.

  17. Dean says:

    I’ve met him on two occasions and found him very likable. It’s a bit of a shame for New Ulm as he was starting to make some good progress there in a land of scorched earth and a long drought of zero vocations.

    He wrote an article for Crisis Magazine last year on the UN that was pretty good:

  18. RBrown says:

    In making episcopal appointments, the Pope does not always have the advantage of all the information that – especially now in the internet age – is readily available to the faithful.

    The Cong of Bishops has dossiers on every bishop and every prospective bishop. Those letters should have been forwarded to the Americans who maintain the dossiers.

    The restriction by many bishops of the use of the 1962 Missal means that the matter needs to be taken out of their hands.

  19. Alcuin of York says:

    Perhaps the pope figured that by the time the bishop would be installed, the MP would be released…

  20. Brian Kopp says:

    “the Pope does not always have the advantage of all the information that – especially now in the internet age – is readily available to the faithful.”

    Let’s make a note to include a new computer with lifetime internet access for the Pope in the next Peter’s Pence collection.

  21. John says:

    This is a link to the New Ulm Diocese web site with a number of documents, statements, speeches, homilies, etc given by Bishop Nienstedt.

  22. Dan says:

    Good article I dug up on new Coadjutor – looks great!

    Bishop takes issue with late predecessor
    National Catholic Reporter, May 7, 2004 by Robert J. McClory

    In Brief: One of the fascinations of the local church is how a new bishop will compare with the man he is replacing. Much reporting and analysis has been written about how those appointments have changed in recent years. As a group, the more recently appointed bishops have been described as more conservative, stricter in adherence to church teaching and less accommodating to questions than some of their predecessors. In few places are the generational and style differences as clear as in New Ulm, Minn.

    The bishop of New Ulm, Minn., has taken the extraordinary step of denouncing the theological views of his predecessor and urging Catholics not to read a book containing those views “as though it reflects Catholic thinking.” Bishop John Nienstedt almost a year ago posted a statement on the diocesan Web site challenging Revelation and the Catholic Church: Vatican H in the Twenty-First Century, which discusses the views of former New Ulm Bishop Raymond Lucker, who died in 2001.

    “As a whole,” wrote Nienstedt (pronounced nine-stedt), the book, published by Orbis Press in 2003, “challenges the church’s own understanding of herself as being authoritatively charged under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to teach in the name of Jesus on matters of faith and morals.” He referred the matter to the doctrine committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference, asking them “to render a statement on the content of the book.”


    Nienstedt said in early April that the committee had at last replied by sending him a review of the book “by a systematic theologian” (unnamed) whom the committee had consulted. Nienstedt sent NCR a copy of his commentary on the review, which was published on the New Ulm diocese’s Web site.

    Msgr. John Strynkowski, who is a staff member of the bishops’ doctrine committee, said the review was done at the request of the committee, and neither the identity of the author nor the full review is intended for general publication. He acknowledged that the anonymous reviewer did not have “grave problems” with the book, though he found some passages “ambiguous” or “lacking nuance.”

    The posthumous dispute is but one example of a style of leadership very different from what New Ulm Catholics had grown accustomed to under the collaborative Lucker. He led the sprawling rural diocese for 25 years, earning a national reputation as a progressive thinker dedicated to the spirit of Vatican II.

    Nienstedt told NCR he tends to be “much more direct” than Lucker in his approach. When he arrived in New Ulm from Detroit, said Nienstedt, he bought a copy of the book How to Speak Minnesotan by Howard Mohr, but has not yet mastered the content. Lucker knew “how to do ‘Minnesota nice,'” Nienstedt said–that is, to come at issues slowly and indirectly rather than head-on. Nienstedt said he is learning to be subtle and diplomatic.

    Priests and laity in the diocese have described Nienstedt as a “top-down micromanager,” “a scolder” and someone who seems at times “to enjoy being mean.” On the other hand, defenders of the bishop cite his energy, his skill as a speaker, the fact that he has visited all 82 parishes in the diocese, his commitment to pastoral administrators in more than 20 parishes, and his efforts to handle the priest shortage (there are 44 priests currently active). Few of those with whom NCR spoke were willing to be quoted, however, including even those who favored Nienstedt’s style.

    “The people here are afraid to speak up,” said Ann Eissner, a retired nurse who moved to the diocese two years ago. “There’s no real dialogue with this bishop. It’s like we’re going back to the days before Vatican II.”

    Nienstedt, now 57, was installed as bishop of New Ulm in May 2001, just four months before Lucker’s death. He came with an impressive, upwardly mobile resume: holder of a doctorate in theology from Rome (his subject, the moral dimensions of in vitro fertilization); secretary to Detroit Cardinal John Dearden; official with the Vatican Secretary of State office in Rome; professor of moral theology and later rector of the Detroit major seminary; pastor in Royal Oak, Mich.; auxiliary bishop in Detroit; and chaplain of the Detroit chapter of Legatus, an organization for business executives founded by Thomas Monaghan. “With his background,” said a New Ulm diocesan employee, “it’s obvious he won’t be here long; he’s just passing through on his way up the ladder.”

    But while he is here, Nienstedt seems determined to leave his mark. His challenge to the book Revelation and the Church was based, he said in his Web site statement, on Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, which states “that where the pope or bishops speak on matters of faith and morals, even when not speaking ex cathedra [that is, infallibly], the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with ‘a religious assent of soul.'” Dissent from this authoritative teaching, added Nienstedt, “places one theologically in opposition to the church and spiritually in peril of losing eternal life.”

  23. DaveJ says:

    I am from the Diocese of New Ulm. Archbishop-elect Nienstedt is a good Bishop. He has started righting the ship here. I fear that he is leaving before the job is finished though. I hope we will not have to wait too long for a good Bishop. I guess that the good thing is that I think he will remain as Aposolic Administrator until a replacement is named.

  24. Diane says:

    Interesting info everyone dug up.

    In light of that 2004 article from NCR, I just wonder how long it will take him to take care of things at St. Joan of Arc.

    We should pray for him, and for all bishops, that the Holy Spirit guide them, and give them the wisdome, courage, and prudence – among other virtues, needed.

  25. Chris: You need to calm down, you are way out of line.

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