False accusations of sexual abuse can leave lasting scars

(NC Register) A decision last month not to charge Archbishop John Nienstedt in connection with an allegation that he inappropriately touched a boy during a group photo was good news for a Church battered by scandal in recent years.

The determination by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office in Minnesota that there was insufficient evidence to support a charge against the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was announced March 11, days before another priest, Father Eugene Boland of Northern Ireland, returned to ministry after his acquittal on sexual-assault charges involving a teenage girl.

Both cases raise questions about the nature of such charges and how the process for resolving them affects those who are accused, particularly when they are found to be innocent or when the allegations lack sound evidence.

Even before Archbishop Nienstedt was cleared, the Catholic League’s president, Bill Donohue, called the allegation involving an unidentified male into question, saying the archbishop had been “the subject of a nonstop crusade orchestrated by ex-Catholics, and Catholics in rebellion against the Church, simply because he stands for everything they are not: He is a loyal son of the Catholic Church.”

Archbishop Nienstedt has consistently defended the Church’s moral teaching and had taken a strong stand against so-called same-sex marriage, which was legalized by Minnesota in 2013, after voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban the practice. He also has been outspoken against abortion and, according to LifeSiteNews.com, has withheld the Eucharist from activists wearing pro-homosexual buttons and sashes. [More]


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