A Minnesota archbishop who donated over half a million against gay marriage is now under investigation for sexual misconduct with other priests.
John Nienstedt, of St Paul and Minneapolis, is accused of ‘sexual impropriety’ with several adult male priests and seminarians.
The archdiocese has confirmed the investigation, which was first reported by Catholic magazine Commonweal.
The 67-year-old archbishop authorized the internal investigation, which he claims is ‘independent’.
‘The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior,’ Nienstedt said.
According to the religious leader’s lawyers, the investigators have received about 10 sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as priest, bishop and archbishop.
In December last year, Nienstedt was accused of touching a boy’s buttocks while posing for a confirmation photo.
He denied the allegation and took a leave while the county prosecutor investigated. The authorities did not bring charges and Nienstedt returned to his post in March.
Nienstedt is one of the most homophobic voices in the US Catholic Church.
He has said homosexuality is a ‘result of psychological trauma’ and ‘must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc’.
In 2006, he warned Catholics against watching Brokeback Mountain. He claimed Hollywood had ‘turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive’.
In 2010, he told a mother asking for tolerance for her gay son that she should consider her ‘eternal salvation’.
And two years later, he committed $650,000 (€476,000) in church funds campaigning for an amendment that would ban gay marriage in Minnesota.