Nienstedt is the virulent homophobe who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and who is now under investigation for allegations that he covered up sexual abuse and possession of child pornography by priests, as well as claims that he engaged in multiple sexual relationships with priests, seminarians, and other men.
In a no-nonsense op-ed published today, the editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says that the onslaught of allegations has dealt a fatal blow to Nienstedt's credibility, and that he has lost the confidence of the people he's supposed to serve.
"For the sake of one of this state's most valued institutions and the Minnesotans whose lives it touches, Nienstedt's service at the archdiocese should end now...
"Deservedly or not, Nienstedt has become the face of a coverup that has put children in harm's way. His credibility is in tatters. The archdiocese needs a different leader -- a reformer -- to have a reasonable chance of restoring its damaged reputation and sustaining its service to the community."
The editorial board says it hesitated for a long time to weigh in on the subject, both because they thought it "presumptuous" for a secular news organization to advise a church, and because they'd "openly quarreled" with Nienstedt over his vehement opposition to marriage equality, which the board supports. But, they concluded, the damage Nienstedt is causing by remaining in his post is just too great.
"This state... has benefited since its founding from the calls for compassion, social justice and civic harmony that have emanated from this archdiocese. The moral authority that those calls once carried is now badly eroded, and Nienstedt is in no position to restore it.
"[W]e also hope Nienstedt takes to heart the example of Pope Benedict. Eighteen months ago, Benedict concluded that he was not up to the task of meeting the church's leadership needs, and broke with 600 years of tradition to resign from office. His decision was not a display of weakness, but of love for his church. Nienstedt's resignation would show the same.
Click here to read the Star Tribune's full op-ed. A list of Nienstedt's worst moments is after the jump.