Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis is happy to resume public ministry, after he recused himself during an investigation which did not end in charges over accusations he inappropriately touched a youth. “I look forward to returning to public ministry during this Lenten season, especially during Holy Week and the great feast of Easter,” Archbishop Nienstedt said in a March 11 statement. He had been accused of touching a male minor's buttocks during a group photo following a May 5, 2009 confirmation. On Tuesday, the criminal division director of the Ramsey County Attorney, Richard Dusterhoft, wrote that “this case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and should not be charged.” It “seems unlikely that the Archbishop … would pick that moment to sexually touch a random boy openly in front of another clergy member, a deacon, and numerous other confirmands while the confirmands’ family members were preparing to document the moment in photographs,” Dusterhoft stated. “It appears from the photograph that the Archbishop would have to bend to reach the male’s buttocks and that any such action would have likely been witnessed by others present.” The boy had told his mother about the alleged incident, but also said he didn’t feel violated, nor did he think it was significant. The archdiocese announced that it “appreciates today’s announcement by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office that they have declined to file charges against Archbishop Nienstedt. As a result of today’s announcement, the archbishop will now resume all of his public ministry duties.” The archbishop had removed himself from ministry during the investigation, which began Dec. 17. Archbishop Nienstedt continued his own statement, saying, “I am thankful to the Saint Paul Police for their thorough investigation, as well as to the Ramsey County Attorney’s office for their professional work regarding this matter.” “While I look forward to my return to public ministry, I remain committed to the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments for all children and youth.” “I continue to offer my prayers for all victims, their families and their communities, as well as to all who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse. I once again offer my apology to all who have been affected by these terrible offenses.”
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