Joe Soucheray skeptical of allegation Archbishop Nienstedt touched a boy's butt
|Souch: "If somehow the touching of another is a crime, then there are people in all walks of life who will hang side by side."|
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In a statement released that day, Nienstedt vehemently denied the accusation (details about it remain scant at this point), but the timing couldn't have been worse -- just days earlier, Nienstedt offered up a wishy-washy public apology for not doing more to root out sexual abusers from his church and for taking inadequate measures to prevent priests from engaging in sexually abusive behavior.
So, needless to say, Nienstedt has seen better days. Nonetheless, he hasn't been totally abandoned by Twin Cities Catholics.
Enter Joe Soucheray. Soucherary, a conservative 1500 ESPN radio host and oft-controversial Pioneer Press columnist, offered up a qualified defense of Nienstedt in his weekend column, entitled, "Nienstedt allegation is difficult to believe."
Souch begins by noting that confirmation ceremonies are "clamorous affairs because everybody has a camera these days and everybody wants a chance to get a photo or a bit of video stream with an archbishop posed with a new young soldier of the faith." So who's to say who's touching whose butt in the midst of such chaos?
Here the crux of Souch's case:
It might be foolhardy to say that I am not buying it -- the alleged touching -- because we have been surprised at nearly every turn [as the scandal has unfolded]... [But] [c]ome forward, young man, and tell us exactly what you mean when you charge that the archbishop inappropriately touched you. What exactly is an inappropriate touching of the butt -- a pat, a slap, a brushing against? A brushing against is entirely plausible giving the clamorous nature of the post-confirmation excitement.As the investigation into Nienstedt continues, we'll see if Souch's skepticism is vindicated. But given all the unsavory things we've learned about the local Catholic bureaucracy in the last few months, it doesn't seem very wise to give church higher-ups the benefit of the doubt at this point, does it?
This nebulous idea of touching elevated to an actionable sexual deviancy would mean that the pope, who has been hugging people right and left, is committing a foul every time he takes the face of the deformed in his loving hands and gives them a kiss. Good Lord, the pope has been holding children...
[Nienstedt doesn't] deserve this inelegant and quite possibly preposterous charge made against him in the days before Christmas. By all accounts he has no record of such behavior, certainly denies this charge, and he immediately took himself out of service to get this squared away.
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.