The following was sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis from Archbishop Hebda:

From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda

In January of 2014, before I arrived in the Archdiocese, Rev. Peter Laird petitioned Pope Francis for a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, commonly referred to as a “request for laicization.” I have recently been informed that the Holy Father has granted Peter’s request, dispensing him from all the obligations of the clerical state, including that of clerical celibacy. That means that Peter, who had withdrawn from public priestly ministry in 2013, will live as a lay person and will not be able to return to ordinary public ministry without permission of the Holy Father. I am frequently reminded that Peter served this Archdiocese generously from the date of his ordination, May 31, 1997, until his withdrawal from ministry, including as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. While his priestly ministry will be missed by many, I am hopeful that Pope Francis’ decision will allow Peter to serve out his baptismal calling in new ways.

While I am saddened for the people of West Saint Paul, the announcement attached below of the suspension of services at St. Michael made me laugh. Typical of the ArchSPM, they make the announcement of the decision, and then consult the Presbyteral Council. I hope someone with standing at the parish decides to challenge this.
Earlier this week, as media in the Twin Cities were beginning to page through the 900 pages of documents released by the Ramsey County Attorneys Office, the subject of those documents, Archbishop John Nienstedt, was on hand as two seminarians for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis were ordained to the transitional diaconate.

To anyone familiar with the contents of those 900 documents, his presence at the ordinations was as predictable as it was troubling. It is also another sign that, despite his resignation, there have been few if any consequences for his role in the sexual abuse scandal that continues to plague the Archdiocese.
Many people have written to me regarding Father Mark Wehmann's appearance on the liturgy schedule at St. Olaf in Minneapolis.

Father Wehmann's personnel file, which outlines the reasons for his removal from ministry in December of 2013, is available online by following this link:

Archbishop Hebda announced that Father Wehmann would be returning to ministry in June of 2016, noting that Father Wehmann

"engaged in extended professional counselling and spiritual direction."

What is drawing less attention, but perhaps is deserving of even more, is the fact Father Thomas Rayar was recently appointed pastor of the Church of St. Margaret Mary. For those who have forgotten, Father Rayar left a previous pastorate after suing eleven of his parishioners.
An account of what led to his resignation appears in an article from a 2008 issue of the Star Tribune. However, it is worth noting that the Archdiocese, far from concluding "
that the rumor [of an affair] is false," as Rayar's lawyer stated. was still investigating when I started in August of 2008, and continued to do so until at least 2012. At that time the conclusion was far from favorable to Father Rayar. Interestingly, one difficulty with the investigation was that Father Rayar was determined to be living in a private home he owned in Maple Grove, which made it difficult for the Archdiocese's private investigator to follow him. One concerned parishioner sent me a real estate listing for that home, which is apparently currently up for sale by Father Rayar. The home is also listed as the business address of Rayar's charitable foundation, Hands of Hope Mission.
Yesterday's Santa Rosa Press Democrat contained an interesting article about the circumstances of Archbishop Nienstedt's residence in that diocese. Apparently, the relocation had the approval of the local bishop, as well as Archbishop Hebda.

However, as has been previously indicated, the materials released by the Ramsey County Attorneys Office include a statement indicating that the former Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis had minors in his hotel room at World Youth Day, undressed before them, and had them undress before him (Exhibit 9). This would amount to a violation of just about any Code of Conduct, and could possibly be an act of sexual abuse of a minor if the actions were for Nienstedt's gratification. Is the Church investigating this?
Last Thursday, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis released a statement indicating that Father John Bussmann has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to when "he was still in ministry and serving at a parish." According to the same statement, Bussmann has been out of ministry (on a leave of absence) since 2003.

Those of you unfamiliar with John Bussmann and his history in this Archdiocese may want to review my statements on his resignation from ministry and the deal he entered into at that time. You can find this on pages 82, 82, and 84 of my affidavit in the Doe 1 case.

While the version I have linked to is redacted, several pages without redaction were released by the Ramsey County Attorneys Office following the conclusion of the criminal case against the Archdiocese. The supporting documents attached to the RCAO affidavit will be of interest to those of you who have not yet seen them, in particular the allegation involving Archbishop Nienstedt's conduct with minors while at World Youth Day.
Below, please find a copy of my statement on today's announcement, as well as Archbishop Hebda's letter to priests.
Yesterday, SNAP issued a statement about Archbishop Nienstedt's involvement with the Napa Institute, meeting this week at a luxury hotel in the Napa Valley.

The institute claims its mission is to 'equip Catholic leaders to defend and advance the Catholic faith', and other notable attendees at the conference include Carly Fiorina, Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Alexander Sample, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Bishop Michael Barber, and Bishop Robert Vasa.

Nienstedt's involvement with the Napa Institute is just the latest instance of his continued involvement in Church leadership since his resignation. As has already been mentioned, Nienstedt remains the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Pontifical North American College, and also continues on the Board of Trustees for the Catholic University of America.

Somehow, this does not seem consistent with a Church committed to holding bishops accountable.

Someone recently sent me a link to the current (January 2016) newsletter of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and drew my attention to page 4, where the members of the Board of Governors of the seminary are listed. Those of you who follow the link will see that the Vice Chairman is the Emeritus Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I did not find this information anywhere else on the PNAC website.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

In case you missed it, there was an excellent open letter to Archbishop Hebda published in Friday's Star Tribune. You can find it here.


    Jennifer Haselberger is a canon lawyer who served as the Chancellor for Canonical Affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis until April of 2013, when she resigned in protest of the Archdiocese's handling of sexual misconduct by clergy.

    To receive notice when a new post is added, follow @jmhaselberger.


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