North St. Paul, Minnesota - A local priest is taking the bold step of publicly criticizing Archbishop John Nienstedt and his handling of the child sex abuse scandal.
"Things can't seem to be more twisted and out of hand," writes Father Bill Deziel, who heads the Church of St. Peter in North St. Paul. "It leaves us all crying foul and I share the frustration and outrage that many of you have expressed."
In a letter to parishioners, Father Deziel goes on to outline steps that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis should take.
They include releasing the names of the 33 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children and turning over the 'vault' of files on those priests to law enforcement.
Deziel also openly questions whether it's time for Archbishop Nienstedt to resign.
"When things get this bad, sometimes a fresh start is needed for all involved," writes Deziel.
The letter came as a surprise to many Catholics.
"It took my breath away," says Bob Schwiderski, who leads a victim's advocacy group called SNAP.
One of Father Deziel's own parishioners has started an online petition calling for Archbishop Nienstedt's resignation and believes it's time he puts the church before his own self-preservation.
"He has failed. He has failed at every opportunity to address a scourge, a cancer," says local attorney and devout Catholic Tom Lyons. "
Lyons was prompted to start his petition after hearing Pope Francis speak of corruption that has penetrated the hierarchy of the church. The Pope called that corruption 'worldliness' and went onto describe it.
"He says worldliness is arrogance, vanity and pride. All of those terms exist in bishop Nienstedt," says Lyons.
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