Archbishop on Reporting Alleged Abuse: I Just Don’t Remember

Updated: 08/01/2014 7:39 AM By: Jay Kolls

In a one-on-one interview, the Archbishop of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese defended himself and his actions as head of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. 

"I never covered up allegations of child sexual abuse by priests," Archbishop John Nienstedt told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Nienstedt and the Catholic Church have been sued for not reporting and then covering up allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.

When questioned about his time as Bishop of the New Ulm Diocese, the Archbishop tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS his memory about incidents when he was in charge there between 2001 and 2007 are not as clear.

We asked if he ever received a report about a priest sexually abusing a child and then reported it to police.

"My recollection is a little, ah, short at this point," Nienstedt said. "Um, but I think, um, I just don't remember, to be honest with you."

Some see his response as a bombshell.

Dr. Charles Reid, a lawyer and Catholic Church expert at the University of St. Thomas, says Nienstedt's response is "absolutely unbelievable."

"He either knows or he doesn't know," Reid said. "It is an absolutely unbelievable response." 

Reid says Nienstedt's response deserves further investigation because it seems to indicate "something could have happened in New Ulm regarding misconduct by a priest."

Nienstedt says he has no intention of resigning.