Archbishop Nienstedt: Denies Admittance of LGBTQ Group

By Ryan Fitzgerald: MINNEAPOLIS, May  2015 ( – A pro-gay student group in Minneapolis had to relocate to a Protestant venue after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis stepped in and canceled its planned event.

The LGBTQ Catholic Student Coalition, headed by a group of high school students, had scheduled a “LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit” for May 16, last Saturday, at the Church of Christ the King, a Catholic parish.

The event was to feature Kristen Ostendorf as its keynote speaker. Ostendorf used to be a teacher of English and Religion at a local Catholic high school, until one day she blurted out that she unrepentantly lives in defiance of the Church’s teachings. Ostendorf “came out” to her co-workers, proudly proclaiming to them, “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.” This got her fired.

The alleged goal of the event was just to create a “safe space” for people with sexual disorders to discuss living their faith.

On May 10, however, less than a week before the event was to be held, the group was told by the Church of Christ the King that the archdiocesan chancery had intervened. As it turned out, they weren’t allowed to host the event.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who in the past hasn’t been afraid to stand up for Catholic doctrine, stated, “We are concerned that the content of the proposed presentation will contradict Church teaching, leaving those in attendance, especially young people, confused about the truth of the teaching long after the May 16th presentation.”

“There are many venues in our free society to voice opposition to Church teachings regarding contentious social issues,” he said. “But,” he added, “the parishes of the Archdiocese are not the proper place where these specific activities are to be sponsored.”

They still ended up holding the summit, though, as a Protestant venue about a mile away from the Church of Christ the King was more than happy to have them. Almost 200 people reportedly attended. It was sponsored by OutFront Minnesota, a gay activist group, as well as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, an ostensibly Catholic congregation of women religious.

Ryan Fitzgerald is a staff writer and producer for
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanFitz1111

4 Pillars of Sacramental Marriage

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

It is Terrible Shame That Catholics do not Know the Difference between a
Civil Marriage and Sacramental Marriage

by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt: Recently, I was addressing a point on the unique understanding that we as Catholics have on the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist, when one of my listeners blurted out, “Well, why doesn’t the Church get honest and admit that her annulments are just another name for divorce!”

Surprised at the abrupt change of topic, I asked: “Do you understand the difference between civil marriage and sacramental marriage?” The man admitted that he did not. I regret to say that many other Catholics do not either and that is a terrible shame.

‘Marriage in the Lord’

Civil marriage is based on a contract or written agreement that this man and this woman freely bind their lives together as one social entity (originally this was the idea behind them taking one name). That contract continues as long as the two parties desire it to be so.

Civil governments have a stake in the outcome of such unions because they provide future social stability through the children who are born, educated and prepared for citizenship as a result of those contractual relationships. When the well-being of civil marriage is threatened, the future of the common good is placed at risk, and that ought to be of significant concern for governmental leaders.

Sacramental marriage externally looks just like civil marriage, but the internal reality is far different. Sacramental marriage rests on what I call the four pillars that give it definition:

  • Faith-filled: It is a union between a baptized man and a baptized woman;
  • Free consent: It is knowingly and willingly entered into by a man and a woman who understand what they are doing and have the capacity to follow through;
  • Indissoluble: Both believers recognize that this is a lifelong, exclusive and monogamous union because it is a “marriage in the Lord”;
  • Fruitful: Being believers, the couple models the generative love of God as seen in the Blessed Trinity in willing that their love for each other will bear fruit in the procreation and education of their children.

When we view the meaning of sacramental marriage over and against that of a civil marriage, we begin to understand why the Catholic Church defines the sacrament of marriage as a “covenant” — a union in God and dependent on his assistance of grace. Accordingly, divorce has no place in terms of sacramentality because God’s grace never dies even in the presence of human sin or weakness.

An annulment, on the other hand, results after careful consideration has been given as to whether or not all four pillars were present the day that the couple said their “I do’s.” If one or more dimensions were missing, then that union, which admittedly was a civil marriage, was never capable of being a sacramental marriage.

On the other hand, when two Lutherans are married in a Lutheran Church, the Catholic Church presumes they, too, have entered into a sacramental union due to the validity of their baptism. (The same understanding of validity does not, however, extend to a Lutheran theology of the Eucharist.) If they later divorce and one of the parties desires to marry a Catholic, his or her union would require an annulment before marriage to a Catholic could take place.

Some will say that all this is needless bureaucracy or “red tape.” However, the Catholic Church sees that the dignity of the human person requires respect for his or her public promise spoken through the wedding vows before a recognized religious minister and two witnesses. The Church in that sense is only holding each party to his or her word and thus defending the integrity of their promises.

In addition, the increasing number of marriages in our archdiocese between persons of “mixed religious”

backgrounds is a source of deep concern for me, precisely because a mutually unified understanding of sacramentality in many cases is not present and because a fully unified practice of faith is not possible.

In such instances, pastoral leaders must devote extra time and attention to ensure that these couples are prepared to face the inevitable challenges that will face their commitment.

Importance of children

Lastly, allow me to speak to the overall importance of the procreation and education of children in regard to the sacramentality of marriage.

The Second Vatican Council’s constitution, “Gaudium et Spes,” did not use the distinction of “primary” and “secondary” in referring to the two-fold significance of the conjugal act, namely its procreative and unitive significances. This has led some commentators to conclude that a conflict could arise whereby the procreative significance may legitimately be ignored in favor of the unity of the couple, thus rationalizing the immoral use of contraception or sterilization.

My bishop, John Cardinal Dearden (for whom I served four years as his priest secretary), served as the committee chair when that section on marriage was being drafted. He told me personally that the above interpretation was never intended by the Council Fathers. While the two ends are essential, they do not bear the same moral weight. The procreative intent of marriage has been its defining character “from the beginning.” (Genesis 1:28)

St. Paul speaks of marriage as a “great mystery,” a marvelous participation in God’s life and mission. It is a blessed vocation and a holy adventure, wherein a man and a woman entrust their hearts, their lives and their eternal destinies to one another. God is the silent companion in the living out of that commitment. Marriages flourish when that is understood and when God’s assistance is sought in daily prayer and Sunday Eucharist.


True Happiness Comes From Developing Virtue…Not Vice!

NienstedtCourage:  Encouraging Those Afflicted With Same-Sex Attraction To Live Chaste Lives Filled With The Love Of God.

Archbishop John Nienstedt

Courage, also known in Minnesota as “Faith in Action” (FIA), is a  Catholic ministry, endorsed by the Holy See, serving those persons with same-sex attraction (SSA) who seek spiritual and moral support to live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality.

Before all else, FIA is a spiritual program, albeit one with very practical methods. In a confidential setting, greatly diverse people mentor and are mentored in the sometimes difficult path of faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his way of life.

Through honesty, accountability, friendly encouragement, mutual prayerful support and commonly held goals, FIA provides a safe and healthy environment to grow in holiness, hope and virtue.

FIA’s five goals are:

1) to live chaste lives as in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality;

2) to dedicate one’s life to Christ through prayer, sacraments and service;

3) to foster a spirit of fellowship, sharing thoughts and experiences, so that no one will have to be alone in facing the unique problems associated with having same-sex attraction;

4) to encourage one another in forming and sustaining chaste friendships; and

5) to serve as good examples to others.

Making a difference

The FIA program helps each person take the best step forward from his or her own individual and unique starting point. Attractions and desires may not be voluntary but one’s response to them ought to be made responsibly, based on moral soundness.

Recently, one member of the Twin Cities Faith in Action group gave witness to his own experience with these powerful words:

“Faith in Action saved my life. FIA, for me, is a lot more than simply not acting out sexually. It gave me a family, a social milieu in which I could explore my relationships with others and with God, and lessen the emotional and spiritual gravity homosexuality had in my life. I have a group of men who are willing to take my phone calls, give me advice, do untold acts of charity, and ultimately die with me if it comes to that. Not many straight men have friends with that level of solidarity.

“Another thing is that Faith in Action helps teach me about how to achieve happiness — not through changing my external circumstances, but by building up those natural proclivities to virtue that God endowed me with when I was born.

While chastity is naturally the virtue that we are most explicit about, I don’t think that it is the only one. As a gay man, it’s easy for me to say, ‘I would be happy if I had a boyfriend,’ or ‘I would be happy if I were straight,’ and it’s easy to create a sort of fantasy perception of other people’s lives. But the empirically and scientifically tested truth is that people are most happy when they exercise the virtues. FIA helps me with this tremendously, whether it is helping me with chastity through accountability and confession, or teaching me charity by giving an uplifting word to a brother, or prudence by teaching me when I should talk, and when I should stay silent.”

Support for family, friends

Parents, relatives and friends of persons with same-sex attraction also have a support group available, called “Encourage.”

The purpose of Encourage is to give faithful witness to Catholic teaching on sexual morality, while helping its members find a deeper spiritual life. Members of Encourage often gain deeper understanding of the needs, problems and issues experienced by their friends and families with SSA and are able to assist one another to reach out with compassion and truth to their loved ones.

I am grateful to the men and women of Faith in Action and Encourage for their powerful witness to God’s truth and love.

God bless you!

Originally posted at:  The Catholic

Speaking The Truth With Love

What God Has Revealed Cannot Be Changed By Human Beings!

The Catholic

By:  Archbishop John Nienstedt

In two months, the people of the state of Minnesota will have an opportunity to exercise their right as citizens of this great state in voting for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

As you know, this issue has become a great source of controversy since the intended purpose for this amendment is so often misconstrued. Therefore, it is crucial for us to understand what sets marriage apart as a unique relationship and to appreciate the important difference that it makes for society.

Marriage is a universal social institution that serves as the cornerstone of society. It is a reality that unites a man and a woman and any children born from their union. As Catholics, we recognize this reality as God’s revelation to us, something we can see clearly in nature and throughout thousands of years of human history.

What God has revealed to us for all time cannot be changed unilaterally by human beings. This is the heart of the matter for us as Catholics. Our effort to support God’s unchanging plan for marriage is not a campaign against anyone, but rather a positive effort to promote the truth about marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Timeless truths

In the coming months, the discussion about marriage may become increasingly difficult. While there are differing points of view on this issue, I believe that we must act with integrity in order to find the courage to speak the truth in love.

As we grow closer to the day when we each will have a voice and vote on this matter, I offer the following perspective for the Catholic faithful. As archbishop, it is my solemn responsibility and duty to teach the truths of the faith. It is, as they say, my job. In fact, I cannot do anything other than pass on to the faithful these timeless truths — truths that have been revealed to us by Christ in Sacred Scripture, sacred tradition, and teachings of the Church for two millennia.

As hard as these truths may be for some to hear, as surely as they occasionally stand in opposition to the ebb and flow of public opinion, they must be taught. I must continue to do so, and I promise to teach with love for one and all. My sincere longing is for the salvation of souls, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has exhorted us to seek for ourselves and for our entire human family.

So I urge all Catholic faithful to think, pray and reflect seriously on this most important issue. What we do and say in the coming months will matter greatly. I urge us all to stand up for the truth, always with love. I ask that you consider and pray about the following:

First, some ask, “Why is a constitutional amendment necessary?” Well, the fact of the matter is that politicians and activists are working right now in Minnesota to redefine the institution of marriage from one that bonds a man and a woman to any children born from their sexual union into another that licenses the romantic preferences of same-sex adults.

These same activists have promised to change the one understanding of marriage that applies to all Minnesotans at the earliest possible opportunity. In fact, a lawsuit is currently pending in Hennepin County, and legislators who have introduced legislation to redefine or eliminate marriage altogether have promised to do so again next year.

But the reality is that marriage is not ours to redefine, just as another human life is not ours to take. God is both the author of life and the author of marriage. It is this most fundamental understanding of the natural order that animates who we are as Catholics. It is why we fight so ardently to defend every human life, from conception to natural death. It is why we fight for the dignity of the human person and vigorously seek preferential options for the poor and disadvantaged. It is also why we fight to defend God’s plan for marriage, because his providence is as clear for what marriage is as it is for the dignity of each human life.

When society says that the unborn, the weak and poor don’t matter, we as Catholics stand up for the truth. We cannot do any different for God’s timeless plan for marriage.

Following God’s plan

Second, uniting men and women in stable relationships is an important social good, as documented by abundant social science research. As Catholics, we believe in the pursuit of the common good for all of humanity. This means we actively seek what benefits all according to what brings us closer to God’s plan for our lives.

The common good is truly achieved when defined by God’s laws and precepts, not by one’s personal desires. We know all too well that human desires, untethered from God’s moral law, often lead to great harm to ourselves and society, even if unintended. Many times, this harm is not clear in the moment and only comes into focus after the damage has been done. Catholics are called to love as Jesus loved, not by acquiescing to what public opinion proposes as permissible, but by living out the truth that God has written on the human heart for the common good.

Third, gender matters. Kids do need a mom and a dad. The well-being of children lies in the balance of a man-made social experiment. At the core of this latter concept is the belief that gender doesn’t really matter.

On the other hand, as Catholics, we support and defend God’s design for the complementarity of men and women. For each there is a beautiful and unique purpose. We know that men and women parent differently. We know that children benefit greatly from the unique gifts that mothers and fathers brings to their child. Gender does matter, and kids do need us as a society to do everything possible to unite them to both their mom and dad. When kids do better, the whole community does better. (See page 11 for the most recent research on this topic).

Fourth, the effort to respect God’s plan for marriage is about promoting true love, not preventing it. As God’s creatures, we are so much more than our sexual desires, and we should never let them define who we are. God is love, and Jesus Christ is love incarnate.

With the example of Christ, we are called to love deeply, to love unselfishly — it is our highest calling. But we do need to understand love and sexuality through God’s lens and his perfect plan for us. He asks us to temper our passions, not to temper our love and to find the true path to its selfless growth. As Catholics, we see that God’s plan for marriage is the holy family — the triune model of father, mother and child — a model that creates and fosters a love that goes beyond mere sexuality.

Defending dignity of all

Finally, and importantly, while no one has the right to redefine marriage for all of society, as Catholics we are committed to defending the dignity of all people, including those with same-sex attraction.

We know that some who are seeking to redefine marriage experience same-sex attractions. Our brothers and sisters living with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God who must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

Every sign of unjust discrimination in this regard must be avoided. People with same-sex attractions, like others in society, are productive citizens, community servants, good friends and our beloved family members.

At the same time, however, it is important to know that the effort to ensure that the definition of marriage remains as between one man and one woman does not take away anyone’s existing rights or legal protections. As Catholics, we believe that all people should be able to visit loved ones in the hospital, pass on their property to whomever they choose, and have access to employment, housing and the basic necessities of life.  Saying “yes” to God’s plan for marriage will not change any of this.

Since the marriage amendment was placed on the ballot, we have been working to educate Catholics about what marriage is, why it is important, and what the consequences of redefining marriage will be.

We are not alone in these efforts. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans of various backgrounds and faiths have come together to form Minnesota for Marriage ­(, which is the official campaign created to promote passage of the marriage amendment. It is encouraging to see so many people across Minnesota joining together to proclaim the truth and the beauty of marriage.

Help needed

Now, Minnesota for Marriage needs your help to get the message out. We must ensure that Minnesotans know what is at stake and have the correct information about why they should vote “Yes” for the marriage amendment. (Remember that if you leave the ballot box blank, the government votes “No” for you!).

I urge all Catholic faithful to stand up for the truth —always with love — especially when it may be difficult.  Let us pray that our actions are guided by both the virtues of courage and charity.

The Catholic bishops of Minnesota are united in their efforts to keep marriage defined as between one man and one woman, and we have been joined by many of our ecumenical brothers and sisters of other faiths. That is why I encourage you to join us in voting “YES” on Nov. 6 to keep our state strong in its defense of marriage.

Warning: The Spiritual Warfare of Secular Catholicism

Secular Catholics are Casual About Many Things

by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt: The –   The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that you and I must confront a kind of spiritual death that is embracing our church and our society.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

For some time now, there has been a secular Catholicism which has been slowly replacing the passionate, strong and enduring faith that many of us received from our parents. Secular Catholicism is more a social religion than a religion that comes from a deeply seated faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It invites people to have a causal relationship with the Catholic Church . . . a church Jesus founded for us as a gift for all ages.

Secular Catholics are casual about many things. They are casual about church attendance, casual about the importance of a prayer life, casual about the commandments, casual about authentic church teaching and casual in the ways they pass faith on to their children.

It doesn’t seem to be so bad when we hear the word casual. Yet, it is bad because when one generation falls into that trap, the generations that follow have even less faith or no faith at all . . . and the church is diminished. So why is this important enough to take time and space in my Easter homily?

The answer is simple. There is spiritual warfare going on in our church and in our society and, as faithful Catholics, you ought to know about it.

This year I re-read parts of Dinesh D’Souza’s book “What’s So Great About Christianity?” In that book he warns about a new atheism that is infecting our society as a whole, but, more importantly, it is affecting many of our young people in colleges and universities.

In his chapter “Mis-Educating the Young: Saving Children From Their Parents” he says, “The atheist strategy can be described in this way. Let the religious people breed them, and we will educate them to despise their parents’ beliefs.”

When I was growing up, there was only one prominent atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hair. Back then, every Catholic, indeed every Christian, ignored her as an oddity. Today’s atheists are legion. They have an agenda and their names are familiar.

Christopher Hitchens . . . God called him to Judgment last year.

Carl Sagan.

Daniel Dennett.

Richard Dawkins.

Sam Harris . . . and many, many more.

They are on my list because they are all highly acclaimed authors whose works are commonly read in realms of higher learning.

In his book, D’Souza says “Atheistic educators are now raising the question of whether parents should have control of what their children learn.” And you and I know that in public schools parents are losing more and more control each and every year.

Richard Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” asks “How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It is one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like.

But should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessions of beliefs that they are too young to have thought out?”

Daniel Dennett goes further. “Parents don’t own their children the way slave owners once owned slaves, but are, rather, their stewards and guardians and ought to be held accountable by outsiders for their guardianship.”

What he is saying essentially is that outsiders do have a right to interfere.

We must take our Faith more seriously

My friends, you and I are living in a new kind of world and if we want to overcome that kind of thinking, we have to take our faith in Jesus Christ and in his church much more seriously. This celebration tells us that we do have the power to make a difference. We have within this church the transformative power of Jesus Christ.

To understand that power we have to first understand that Easter really did happen. We believe that because the Scriptures of the New Testament are filled with eyewitness accounts. Those accounts tell us over and over again that Jesus did die on the cross . . . that he was buried . . . that on the third day he did rise from the dead . . . and, finally, that he is Lord and Savior and the Son of the Living God.

During this Easter celebration we ask only one question. Are the witnesses reliable? Their later actions say that they are. Almost every one of them suffered a martyr’s death rather than deny what they had seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. If you and I believe that they are reliable, then all of us must pay much more attention to our faith in Jesus Christ and in his church.

St. Augustine tells us that faith is given to us as a sacred trust. It must be protected. It must be developed. It must be allowed to grow.

In his book “The City Of God,” he says: “There is a sanctuary of conscience inside every person that is protected from political control, and that kings and emperors, however grand, cannot usurp authority that rightly belongs to God.” In our society, that statement is equally true when applied to congressmen, senators and presidents.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. We are called to think about our own sinfulness and, as we do that, to remember especially that Christ died for us while we were still in our sin. He went to the cross for each of us to reconcile us to God and to each other.

I pray today that through the cross of Jesus Christ, God will give us the Easter power to be inflamed by his love and to share that love in every possible way with everyone within our reach.

May God give us the grace.

God bless you!

Mary Is The Answer To Luke Warmness And Casual Catholicism!

Secular And Casual Catholicism Has Given Great Advantage To The Ideology Of Atheism!

From:  The Catholic 

By:  Archbishop John Nienstedt

In my column of April 26, 2012, I shared with you an Easter homily delivered by a priest friend of mine in Detroit. I also spoke of a secular Catholicism that has slowly eroded a strong and enduring faith by taking a casual approach to the matters of religion, even in the passing on of our faith to our children and grandchildren.

This has given a great advantage to the ideology of atheism that seeks to educate children to despise the beliefs of their parents. Certainly this is the work of the Evil One, “prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Mary’s support

Often, we think of the devil as the counterpoint to God. And yet, the devil is in fact one of God’s creatures, a fallen angel. In that regard, it is more theologically precise to view Satan’s rebellion against God as set over and against the obedient “fiat” of Mary. In other words, her faith-filled obedience stands in marked contrast to the devil’s rejection of God’s will.

True to God’s prediction in Genesis 3:15, Satan despises Mary for allowing herself to be used as the instrument through whom our Savior entered the world. His intent is to do whatever it takes to thwart God’s plan for salvation.

Yet, as we have just celebrated in Holy Week, Christ’s death and resurrection has defeated the devil’s grasp on us and removed death’s dark hold over us. The wood of the Cross has become the sign of our salvation.  And whenever we meet the Cross, Mary remains standing beneath it, offering her strong yet silent support.

As Pope Benedict XVI has observed: “In our day, Our Lady has been given to us as the best defense against the evils that afflict modern life; Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation” (Aparecida, Brazil, May 2007).

In my family, we grew up with a regular practice of attending Our Mother of Perpetual Help devotions and praying the family rosary. I still believe that these are powerful means of growing in holiness. I highly recommend them, especially in this month dedicated to the Mother of God.

As Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote, Mary is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” She has been given to us as a model and a guide. How can we not but take advantage of so great a gift?

Warning to Priests: Archbishop Nienstedt Declares No Open Dissension

Priest May Be Stripped of His Ministry if He Continues
to Disagree “With the Church’s Teaching on Marriage.”

Archbishop John Nienstedt is warning Catholic clergy across Minnesota that there should be no “open dissension” of the church’s strong backing of a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would define marriage as a union only between a man and woman.

In other early signs of the fervent campaign the church intends to wage for the amendment, which will be on every ballot in the state this fall, Nienstedt is appointing priests and married couples to visit archdiocesan high schools to talk about marriage. He has directed parishes to form committees to work for passage of the amendment. He also has warned a priest that he may be stripped of his ministry if he continues to disagree “with the church’s teaching on marriage.”

In a recent letter to priests and deacons, Nienstedt laid out why he believes it’s important that the marriage amendment pass: “The endgame of those who oppose the marriage amendment that we support is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.”

“As I see it, we have this one chance as Minnesotans to make things right,” he said. “The stakes could not be higher.”

With nearly 1.1 million Catholics in Minnesota, the church and its political arm, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, are likely to play a crucial role in whether the marriage amendment wins passage in November.

At the same time, other organizations such as Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition that includes faith-based groups, are joining forces to defeat the amendment — making it certain that Minnesota will be thrust into the growing national debate over whether states should sanction gay marriage.

Standoff emerging

Besides urging parish priests to form church committees to support the amendment, Nienstedt also wants Catholics to recite a special “marriage prayer” during Mass that endorses marriage between a man and woman.

In the coming months, teams of a priest and a married couple are also set to talk to high school students in the archdiocese about why marriage should be a union between a man and woman.

David Meyer, principal of Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, said juniors and seniors are scheduled to hear a presentation by a team in April.

“We don’t have a lot of details other than they’re obviously going to be presenting the benefits of marriage,” Meyer said. “I certainly support that.”

But there is opposition to the church’s strategy.

One vocal critic of Nienstedt is the Rev. Mike Tegeder, who spoke against the amendment at a priests’ meeting with Nienstedt in October.

In November, Tegeder received a letter stating that if he did not end his public opposition, Nienstedt would suspend his “faculties to exercise ministry” and remove him from his “ministerial assignments.”

Marking the first clear standoff over the church’s role in the amendment, Tegeder is not backing down.

He said he believes the church is being too political and contends that it’s inappropriate for its leaders to campaign in support of the amendment.

“That’s not the way to support marriage,” said Tegeder, pastor at both St. Frances Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri churches in Minneapolis. “If we want to support marriage, there are wonderful things we can do as Catholic churches and ministers. We should not be focused on beating up a small number of people who have this desire to have committed relationships.”

Some parishes are divided

Other priests in the Twin Cities metro area say many in their flocks believe the state’s bishops are being too political.

One priest, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he fears censure by the archbishop, said he is not reciting the “marriage prayer” during Mass. He also said that he has struggled to find volunteers to participate with the pro-amendment committee.

“Too many of us have a relative, a good friend, someone we know who’s gay,” he said. “A lot of churches are not doing the prayer. They’re also appointing shell committees. Churches are creating them … but there’s really no true endorsement of the amendment.”

Archdiocesan officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, defends the campaign.

“We don’t believe we’re imposing anything on anybody in terms of ideas,” he said. “We’re simply training … and working in educating and informing our citizens to go out and be good citizens in the public arena and explain to others why we think this is an important issue.

“People are free to object to that … but we like everybody else have a responsibility and the freedom to participate in public debates.”

Church more active here

The emerging campaign by Minnesota bishops is “very unusual,” said John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron who studies politics ad religion.

“Churches are about spiritual things, and it’s not that churches can’t take positions on human behavior or sexuality,” he said. “But the common complaint I’ve heard in many contexts is if the institution becomes politicized … it can detract from the spiritual mission of the church because you’ll have people having trouble praying with each other, who are going to feel uncomfortable coming to church.”

It is also uncommon for bishops to suspend priests for failing to abide by Catholic teaching. Still, religious scholars say that priests have been suspended in recent decades for supporting the ordination of women and having differing views about church doctrine on birth control.

Rose French



Bishop Leads Diocese to Pass a A Defense of Marriage Act

Archbishop John Nienstedt

Archbishop John Nienstedt

By Andy Birkey; The Minnesota Independent –  Archbishop John Nienstedt sent a letter to every priest in the state at the start of October urging them to put every Catholic church in Minnesota tow work passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“It is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the Church’s teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of the amendment,” the letter read. It went out on Oct. 4 to every priest in the state.

The archbishop said it wants priests in every parish to identify a “church captain” in order to create an “ad hoc committee” in every church in the state. The “church captain” is a component of the Schubert Flint strategy used in 2008?s divisive Proposition 8 battle in California.

The strategy mirrors a similar one used by conservative Christians in California to pass Proposition 8 and end marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Schubert Flint was a public affairs firm at the heart of California’s successful push by conservative Christians to repeal marriage rights for that state’s same-sex couples. In a post-mortem, the firm wrote about it’s use of church captains:

We built a campaign volunteer structure around both time-honored campaign grassroots tactics of organizing in churches, with a ground-up structure of church captains, precinct captains, zip code supervisors and area directors; and the latest Internet and web-based grassroots tools.

Schubert Flint has been active in Minnesota, in particular during the 2010 gubernatorial election when it created a series of ads attacking DFL and Independence Party candidates for their support of rights for same-sex couples.

According to Nienstedt’s letter, the church captains will be organized by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic church, which will in turn report to the Minnesota for Marriage coalition for statewide efforts. Minnesota for Marriage is made up of the Minnesota Family Council, MCC and the National Organization for Marriage.

“A major issues will be placed before the State of Minnesota in the November 2012 election. a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Nienstedt wrote. “The sanctity of marriage and vital role of the family is at stake. It is a firmly-held teaching of our church that a marriage is a union of a husband and a wife, and that they together are the ones suited to be a father and a mother.”

He added, “To define it otherwise is a detriment to the common good of society.”

Here’s the full letter from Nienstedt — here


HT:  Father Z