Joseph F. Kueppers
St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn.
What happens when you tell your pal
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt about a
in Jefferson City, we have a mirror
image of subterfuge and secrecy in
the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
Paul — telephoned the Twin Cities
Chancery to admonish Nienstedt
about a predatory priest he has
allowed to resume a career as a
local morality crusader, preacher,
seemed to be offended by the details of our friend’s message,
dismissing the conversation with nervous laughter and mock
humor. She also refused to confirm any details of our
communication or contact information before disconnecting
Paul called back — refusing to be dismissed out of hand — to
speak with the Rev. Michael Krenik, Nienstedt’s confidential secretary. Krenik responded professionally in a courteous monotone with no sense of empathy, as if he had been assigned latrine duty.
At first we assumed Joseph F. Kueppers was a staff member with the archdiocese’s victims assistance program. A psychologist, perhaps, or a social worker seeking additional information about the matter.
Father X or just another pretty face.
attorney with the improbable title
of Vice Chancellor for Civil Affairs.
Our initial response: Why would a
lawyer masquerade as a caregiver
or clergyman? This job usually
goes to a priest and, occasionally,
In 2005, as co-founder and public policy advisor for the Minnesota Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (MNSNAP), we learned that Archbishop Harry J. Flynn (Nienstedt’s immediate predecessor) was shielding a prominent priest who had been cited with multiple boundary violations with vulnerable adult females. Two of his victims received medical care at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, Albany, Ohio.
According to Wellspring’s mission statement, the retreat is:
the treatment of individuals who have suffered in
abusive groups, whether religious or secular; these
are often called cults. Our program is also effective
for those who have been in coercive relationships,
and those who have experienced professional abuse
and/or sexual exploitation from therapists, doctors,
clergy, and teachers.”
One of the predator’s victims, whom we will call “Dora Sinclaire,” described Wellspring in September 2005 as follows:
healing and to put things into perspective. When one
has experienced any type of abuse from someone who is supposed to represent the Church, it often taints their image of God and leaves them feeling lost about faith, morals, life in general. This place helps people to put things into perspective and take their life back, to deal with the shame, the guilt, self-blame, fear of being
taken advantage of again, etc. I will be there for two
weeks. I’m really looking forward to it and hope it will
help a lot.”
to pay for a treatment program to help me heal from what happened to me by Fr. X. They paid for it in full, ($5,000) and are also paying for my airfare. They obviously know that he is a problem.”
predator and participated in retreats that he organized on a regular basis for area Catholics. “Ms. Sinclaire’s” spiritual advisor specialized in an amalgam of Carmelite devotionals (with a hint of Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross) and charismatic renewal. In private sessions, he forced himself on each victim with the proviso that her blouse and/or brassiere may come off when
imbued by the Holy Spirit. So much for the Pentecost experience of Tongues of Fire.
pledging. This change is being made because one of
our active members had a vision of the Lord in which
He made it known that the gift we should give our
members who pledge should be the crown of thorns.
The member who received the vision described it
of thorns and reminded me of His suffering when He
paid the price for our sins. He then said that at the
moment we pledge that the Crown of Thorns would
unite us and would mark us as uniquely His; as fellow
sharers in His suffering. It would also be the means of
blessing our journey before Him with great graces in
behalf of others.”
St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn.
and transfer the predator to hospital
chaplaincy work and deny him the
privilege to conduct retreats, preach,
or lecture on theological matters (his
specialty). We do not know if he engaged
in similar behavior with the hospital staff
or patients as he did with those he
counseled on matters spiritual.
his brother for 29 years in St. Paul
before joining Nienstedt’s team
full-time in January. Nine months
later, the Chancery was in chaos due to senior management’s refusal to cooperate with law enforcement and continued protection of child predators. One would think that, Kueppers, an astute attorney as any, should have been attuned to the scandal that the criminal culture of his superiors has cultivated in the Minnesota for more than 30 years.
Rev. Jonathan Shelley, 52, pastor
of St. Jude of the Lake, Mahtomedi
(2004); and formerly at St. John the
Baptist Church, Hugo (2012).
The pornography allegations surfaced
in 2003. Shelley was pastor at St. Jude
of the Lake parish in Mahtomedi when
the porn was found. He was temporarily
suspended because of “an allegation
of inappropriate activity,” according
to a parish letter to members dated
24 September 2004.
Eisenzimmer resigned with the Rev.
Peter A. Laird, Vicar General 2009-
2013, after more court testimony
in October revealed that both men conspired to protect this ordained sexual predator. That testimony, provided by Jennifer Haselberger, vice chancellor for canonical affairs, discovered the evidence and contacted the St. Paul Police Department.
William Cardinal Levada
the Doctrine of the Faith
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but St. Paul police allowed the Archdiocese to select
the images for review with additional
files held back by church officials).
Nienstedt adds that pornographic
images were found on the Rev.
Shelley’s computer hard drive
before he became archbishop
in an effort to minimize
A representative of the Archdiocese said the correspondence was never mailed to Levada, according to media reports. Therefore, Nienstedt was able include a line in the 2012 correspondence that he was “unable to comment as to why this matter was not reported to you at that time,” as required by a papal order of 2001.
“This was investigated, determined to be a matter
of poor judgment, and Father Shelley was allowed
to proceed in formation.”
Other events leading to questions about Shelley include his allowing an 18-year-old parishioner to live in the parish offices during a dispute with his parents.
One would think that Kueppers would reconsider his attitude toward victims of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters. But that is not the case.
As a result, Nienstedt continues be just another depraved and quarrelsome player in this hierarchy of criminals. His pedophile mindset reveals a lack of judgment or interest is serving justice: what we call doing the right thing. Instead he nurtures a deep-rooted culture of abuse that allows his staff to brandish a venom that antagonizes and tortures so many in the community.
Nienstedt’s credibility is no longer in question. He is proven to be a man without integrity or honor.
Kueppers’ association with such public figures is as sad as it is sordid. But, then, even unspeakable criminal behavior has access to legal strategy and image making: a picture-perfect scenario for someone like Chris Christie or Anthony Weiner (aka Carlos Danger) and now the game plan of the American bishops.
Finding excuses and concealing information of a crime tend toward a prison sentence. But we doubt is anything like that will happen. Someone will cut a deal or decline to pursue charges. No one will go to jail. And this phase of the 40-year-old Minnesota scandal will continue to fester a little longer.
Meanwhile, we weep and feel not the dint of pity.