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The following tenured members of the Theology Department of the University of St.

Dr. Cara Anthony
Dr. Bernard Brady
Dr. Massimo Faggioli
Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk
Dr. Michael Hollerich
Dr. John Martens
Dr. Stephen McMichael
Dr. Paul Niskanen
Dr. David Penchansky
Dr. Gerald Schlabach
Dr. Ted Ulrich
Dr. Paul Wojda
c/o Dr. Paul J. Wojda, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
Chair, Faculty Afairs Committee (2014-15)
University of St. Thomas
September 15, 2014
Dear Dr. Anthony, Dr. Brady, Dr. Faggioli, Dr. Gavrilyuk, Dr. Hollerich, Dr. Martens, Dr.
McMichael, Dr. Niskanen, Dr. Penchansky, Dr. Schlabach, Dr. Ulrich, and Dr. Wojda,
Thank you for your recent letter with your proposals and suggestions. I appreciate your
interest in helping people draw closer to Jesus Christ and I am grateful for your service
to the students of the University of St. Thomas. I know that many have recently had
difcult conversations with friends and family about why they still continue to profess
their faith. I am very sorry for anything I or my predecessors have done to cause
Catholics to doubt their faith or the sacred trust that is placed in Church leadership.
I am grateful, too, for your thoughtful advice and your willingness to share it. Please
allow me to address the suggestions you listed:
Leave the legal talk to the lawyers; bring pastoral talk to the people.
Many Catholics have shared with me the same pain you are describing, and I have
taken the initiative to move in the direction you are suggesting. In last weeks issue of
The Catholic Spirit is an article on the frst of a series of healing Masses designed for all
those who feel they have been hurt by the Church. We are working with local pastors to
communicate the information about these Masses to the faithful. Heres a link:
The theme of healing and reconciliation is at the heart of these liturgies, which can
provide powerful prayer experiences for those who have been wounded or those who
know others who are sufering.
Re-introduce yourself to the people and parishes that are our Archdiocese.
The reason I became a priest was to become involved in the lives of people, and I
appreciate every opportunity I have to do so. I have met and continue to meet with
victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse, their families and their friends. I am also
reaching out to community leaders, ecumenical leaders and parish leaders to talk and
learn about how we can be a part of the healing process. I often spend my weekends
celebrating Mass at local parishes or going to community events. I have not publicized
these events, but they are happening on a regular basis.
Engage lay people in the important work of the Archdiocese.
I agree with this suggestion, and to that end we have most recently hired Judge Timothy
OMalley for the newly created position of Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe
Environment. Heres a link to the story in The Catholic Spirit:
The fact of the matter is that the majority of my leadership team are lay people, a few of
whom are not Catholic. Aside from our auxiliary bishops, Bishop Pich and Bishop
Cozzens, and our vicar general, Fr. Lachowitzer, my primary advisors are all laity. In
addition, lay people make up the majority of the boards that provide me with advice and
consultation, and I do listen to them.
Im thankful we share the same desire to help the Church and would welcome a meeting
to discuss how we can work together to help bring the Word of God to His people.
Please let me know if that would be of interest to you.
May God bless you and your ministry,
The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt