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

 

 

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22 comments to Warning to Priests: Archbishop Nienstedt Declares No Open Dissension

  • Vincent

    How sad that some priests in Minnesota (and all over the place, of course) don’t understand the fundamentals of biology or religion. The archbishop is taking such a strong stance not because Catholics are “beating up a small number of people who have this desire to have committed relationships,” as one misguided cleric stated.
    Our stance is because so-called “gay marriage” is IMPOSSIBLE — it just doesn’t exist based on the definition of the word and its concept in biology. It’s not a discrimination thing. It’s science. A marriage is the foundation to build a family — not that every marriage must result in children, but that it is a cellular structure of society that is ORDERED toward procreation. (An important distinction.)
    Think about it, Minnesotans: If marriage and procreation are totally stripped apart, then why the heck would a government even be in the business of certifying a love relationship?
    So we should all recognize that the “hate” and “bigotry” card that is often played by dissenters is simply a red herring. These dissenters have no concept of what marriage is, either because of faulty education or simply a desire to allow wiggle room for sin.
    Way to go archbishop Nienstedt!

  • Ellen

    Alessandre – What you say about adopted children going to loving married couples is absolutely true. What you clearly are missing is that a gay or lesbian can provide the same type of loving home as a straight couple. You said yourself that it marriage is not about the ability to procreate (a contradiction of the archbishop). Your question “Is this couple open to bringing life into this world?” applies very much to many same sex couples. This makes them no different from infertile couples.

    For all we know, Jesus himself may have been gay. If he was not, I am certain he would not have discriminated against gay people by denying them a basic right.

    • ALL4HIM

      Ellen- Salvation came to earth through the family- Our Mother Mary espoused to St. Joseph. One man and One woman to raise Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
      Having children is NOT a right, but a true gift from God, a sacred privilege. Human life is sacred. The union between married man and woman is holy and sacred, it’s the worldly who bring it into animalistic levels.
      How can homosexuals “bring life” into this world? Biologically impossible.

  • @Ellen: your cousin’s issue is not germane to this discussion.

    the requirement ‘can this couple have children’ but rather, is this couple open to bringing life into the world if God chooses to grant them that ability & is this couple of the type that can procreate. your cousin & her husband are like so many other infertile people who marry in the Church: open to life & of the type that can procreate even though there is a medical issue that prevents your cousin from bearing children. 2 men or 2 women are not designed to have children so they are not of the type that can procreate. procreation requires 1 man & 1 woman. there is no Church teaching that prohibits an infertile couple from marrying (elderly women who are past the age of childbearing often marry in the church).

    even if one or both spouses are sterile, marriage between a man & a woman remains an act of potential life generation. God can & has worked miracles which allow infertile couples to have children (I’m the product of such a marriage). all married couples are called to be spiritual parents where ever God places them. even infertile couples underscore that marriage is a sacrament between a man & a woman. infertile couples can & often do, adopt children (as your cousin did). her children will be raised in a family w/ a father & a mother which is what children are designed for: mothers & fathers are not interchangeable.

    one thing that is often overlooked these days is that there are many young (& older) adults without families & children w/o fathers. infertile couples have a unique opportunity to become more than just spiritual parents but also families for those who need them. w/ such high divorce rates, we are in desperate need of married couples who will become fathers to the fatherless & mothers to the motherless. it’s that widows & orphans concern that is repeated throughout Scripture & the Church’s teaching.

  • @Anne: the appropriate response to a child who asks do you still love me is, yes, I will always love you. what else would you say? but there’s more to be remembered.

    sociopaths are often born as sociopaths. they know the difference between right & wrong but they don’t care; there is a glitch in their consciences. as young children, they can be found torturing insects & small animals. they delight in tormenting their siblings & engaging in crime. they often desire to see how much they can get away w/. we don’t tel them, go ahead & live a life of crime because you were born a sociopath. you wouldn’t give your child permission to commit crimes & say, she was born that way & I must love her as she is. as a loving parent you’d do everything you could to help your child learn to do what is right even if she hadn’t a consciences to help her; imagine how hard it must be to do right w/o a conscience.

    people w/ same sex attraction are not sociopaths but the analogy is apt. Eve Tushnet, a catholic blogger has lived w/ same sex attraction her entire life. when she converted to Catholicism, she stopped engaging in sexual activities w/ other women because she decided holiness was more important than sexual gratification. she seeks to sublimate (not repress but make sublime, make higher than they usually would be) her sexual feelings & temptations in art. she blogs & speaks to various audiences about being Catholic & attracted to those of the same sex. she works w/ unmarried mothers at a CPC because it’s a way to serve women to whom she is still attracted. same sex attraction is a cross & each day she picks it up & follows Christ. as a loving parent, if you are a faithful Catholic, isn’t your daughter’s holiness important to you? isn’t the destiny of her immortal soul your #1 concern?

    no one pretends it’s easy. the “Via Crucis” is hard & ends in Calvary. you have the job Mary had. can you shirk it? decide not hurting your daughter’s feelings is the reason God gave her to you? so many Catholic parents are doing just that, valuing feelings over fact. when their children were four & insisted they needed a cookie, those mothers said, ‘not before dinner.’ but now, when their children need their guidance & help to carry one of the most painful crosses there is (& I carry the cross of having been brutally abused when I was a child so I know what difficult crosses are) they decide to give in to tears.

    of course you love your daughter. &, if you truly love her rather than just have lots of nice warm feelings for her, you will pray for her to end engaging in sexual activity w/ other women. you will read Eve Tushnet’s blog & even email her for advice. you will ask others to pray for her (I already am). you will have Masses said for her & ask God what else He would have you do. you will learn everything you can about the Church;s teaching on marriage & support marriage only when it’s between a man & a woman & you will practice the response you need to give her. if you love her, you will love God 1st, follow His commandments as they are passed down to us through the Church & help her learn to carry her cross. a woman w/ two disabled children is strong, I believe you can do it. I know I’m not pulling any punches but your daughter’s soul is in jeopardy as is yours & your husband’s. it’s not a time to pull punches, I want to meet you in heaven.

  • @Cathi, even if one or both spouses are sterile, marriage between a man & a woman remains an act of generating life. 1st, only a man & a woman can procreate & God can & has worked miracles which allow infertile couples to have children (I’m the product of such a marriage). 2nd, all married couples are called to be spiritual parents to those who are in need of them. 3rd, even infertile couples underscore the message that marriage is between a man & a woman. 4th, infertile couples can & often do, adopt children. one thing that is often overlooked these days is that there are many young (& older) adults without families & children w/o fathers. infertile couples have a unique opportunity to become families for those who need them, to help fatherless (& motherless) families. the issue is not, ‘does this couple have children’ but rather, is this couple open to bringing life into the world. whether they physically do or do not is then left in God’s hands. & no, infertility, in & of itself, is not reason to dissolve a marriage.

  • Ellen

    Thank you, Anne. While I am not holding my breath, I pray that Archbishop Nienstedt has a change of heart, and comes to realize that his behavior is bigoted, hateful and non-Christian. Jesus certainly would not have bullied others in the way he has.

    For those who argue that marriage is only about procreation, please consider my cousin. Due to a serious health condition, her uterus was removed at the age of 10. She and her wonderful husband were married in the Catholic Church, and we are very thankful that the priest did not object because they are incapable of bearing biological children. My cousin and her husband now have a loving family with their two adopted children (no different from a committed gay or lesbian couple with a family of their own). Marriage is about love and commitment, not the ability to procreate biological children.

  • Anne

    When your child comes to you and tells you with tears in their eyes that they are gay and asks if you still love them, you may have a different reaction to the ammendment. God gave us 3 biological children, one physically disabled, one with mental health issues and one gay. I suspected our daughter was gay when she was 5 years old, she played dress up with her dad’s clothes, refused to wear dresses and was a true Tom Boy. SHE WAS BORN THIS WAY. I could not change her sexual orientation any more than change her eye color. We love and support all of our unique children who have been raised in a 2 parent, loving Catholic home. How can we tell people who were born a certain way that they do not deserve the same civil rights as someone who was born straight? Maybe there are Catholics in MN who do not support Archibishop’s Nienstedt’s antigay ammendment bandwagon because they too have a gay friend or family member whom they love and support and want them to have equal rights. All of God’s children need love and treated with the same rights and respect.

    • ALL4HIM

      Sorry, that assumption that children are “born that way” is so psychologically damaging. I enjoyed playing with boys, wearing men’s shirts, played in the mud constantly, etc. (my mom can attest to that). I still do, but just not playing in the mud. 🙂 I am married with 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great grand child. When secular psychology stopped diagnosing homosexuality as a perverted, then society began to reshape the ideas of morality, marriage, family life….But if you are a true Christian believer, do you truly believe that God, holy and sacred, created life to be holy? When we hold onto The Truths about morality from the teaching from the Catholic Church, we are called bigoted, haters…etc. We are never worldly popular. I am not stating to not treat those who believe they are gay with disrespect, or dignity of who they are in Christ, but we have to realize that the act of homosexual unions are a direct defiance of God’s purpose in marriage and family life. In other words, it is sinful. (BTW, so is fornication).

  • Declan Harrison

    I support this ammendment, and am honestly POed about churches not giving their full support to keeping God’s holy Union between man and woman holy. I am also disappointed that the churches don’t have more people supporting this. I pray that this amendment will find sufficient support to be passed.

  • Dear Courageous,

    I am so grateful for this dear Archbishop Nienstedt.( He is not made up is he???) Okay, so, I would say to the priest who will not read the marriage prayer (remaining anonymous))..What about obedience? What about how little and how late we are getting perfect spot on reaction to the hellish attacks upon our very future existence as the Body of Christ! We must support courage, truth and wisdom, ESPECIALLY since it is coming from our leadership.

    About how we all have a friend, relative, etc…someone we know who is gay. Well, yes, all the more reason for our love and concern and to speak out against the reprehensible falsehoods and deception that says its okay to allow them to walk along hand in hand with the devil and his legions, going away from the hope of embracing a plan to become holy and have eternal salvation. We must not lose sight of that.

    Our love must be bold and instruct them, help them, undo what we can. First, of course, because of the inroads made, there must be individual prayer for our/your loved one(s) We must work harder since they have been hurt and or tempted so deeply and we must not be insincere, and not realize how nice and how easy it would be for them to just listen to the voices of the “sirens” all around them, beckoning them to listen to the lies and ” go get their rights”. Their souls are what are at stake. In another similar difficulty, imagine talking to a teenager who wants his/her right to move in with his/her boy/girl friend without marriage….that isn’t easy either. My 21 year old granddaughter just did go through that experience! Well, thankfully, she went through the experience of having to wait for her beautiful marriage in the Church and to receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony without giving in to the pressures all around her/them.

    I hope you will continue to send me these “courageous” articles and happenings all over our wonderful Church. They are so uplifting and inspiring and perhaps all of us will begin to do our part however small it may be to turn things around and protect and preserve what we have. Praise God for doing your part to bring us all up and to edify so many!

    Love
    in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
    Linda O

  • Mary

    I am in COMPLETE agreement with Archbishop Nienstedt on this issue and support his courageous stand for marriage as God intended it to be……………..one man and one woman. I pray that Catholics defend the teachings of the church and recognize that the family is the basis of a civilized and moral society. God’s law is unchangable. God bless the archbishop and I pray that more and more priests will have the courage to do and say the right thing. As for the Rev. Tegeder, he should worry not only about the loss of his immortal soul but the souls he will cause to be lost because of his disobedience to the church which can only serve to confuse the flock by leading them down the path of destruction if they are influenced by his views on this issue. May God guide him to the truth and may the Holy Spirit direct all priests and lead them to the truth of Jesus Christ.

  • tg

    I agree with the Archbishop. He is being a good shepherd. God bless him.

  • carmen delgado

    I agree with Archbishop Nientedt, may God bless him and protect him from evil.

  • Cathi

    “Any other union (that?) does not produce any children and is sinful.” If one party in a marriage is sterile, is a sin being committed? If children are ont being “produced”, can the marriage be dissolved?

  • Anonymous

    I only hope the Minnesota Bishop is not in hypocrisy.

  • Romy Ramos

    I agree with Archbishop Nienstedt, God’s Divine Plan is very clear – Marriage is between a man and a woman, The objective is to procreate children. Any other union does not produce any children and is sinful. Any clergy, politician, or person who goes against God’s Law is stupid and asking for trouble. Anyone who follows them is headed for trouble. We should not allow ourselves to be pushed away from God’s Divine plan.

  • Romy Ramos

    I AGREE WITH ARCHBISHOP NIENSTEDT, IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND WOMAN IS THE ONLY WAY GOD DESIGNED US TO FOLLOW HIS DIVINE PLAN FOR PROCREATION. THE BASIC SEXUAL FORMS OF A MAN AND A WOMAN AND THE VERY NORMAL RESULT OF AN OFFSPRING FROM SUCH A UNION CLEARLY SHOWS THE BEAUTY OF GOD’S DIVINE PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING WHEN HE CREATED THE FIRST MAN AND FIRST WOMAN.

    NOW, HERE WE ARE AGAIN REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND FOLLOW GOD’S DIVINE PLAN OF NORMAL MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN AND WAITING FOR OUR ALMIGHTY AND POWERFUL GOD TO BLAZE WITH ANGER AND ANNIHILATE ANOTHER MODERN SODOM AND GOMORRAH !!!!! WE ARE BEING TOLD BY SOME HARDHEADED, CORRUPT AND SINFUL HUMANS USUALLY POLITICIANS TO FOLLOW THEIR DISTORTED AND SINFUL MORAL VALUES AND TO MOVE AWAY FROM WHAT IS GOOD AND WONDERFUL INTO AN UNHEALTHY AND DISTORTED “UNION OR COHABITATION” OF HUMANS. WORSE, HERE IS A CLERGY AND SOME YOUNG AND OLD INDIVIDUALS GOING AGAINST OUR ALMIGHTY GOD.

  • Romy Ramos

    IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND WOMAN IS THE ONLY WAY GOD DESIGNED US TO FOLLOW HIS DIVINE PLAN FOR PROCREATION. THE BASIC FORMS OF A MAN AND A WOMAN AND THE VERY NORMAL RESULT OF AN OFFSPRING FROM SUCH A UNION CLEARLY SHOWS THE DIVINE PLAN WHICH GOD MADE THE RULE FROM THE BEGINNING WHEN HE CREATED THE FIRST MAN AND FIRST WOMAN. GOD DID NOT CREATE THE FIRST MAN AND THE SECOND MAN OR THE FIRST WOMAN AND THE SECOND WOMAN. NO, GOD CREATED THE FIRST MAN AND THE FIRST WOMAN ONLY. HOWEVER, SOME SINFUL AND MENTALLY DISTORTED HUMANS FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO GO AGAINST GOD’S DIVINE PLANS FROM WORSHIPPING IDOLS OTHER THAN GOD TO DEBASING THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE BY COHABITING WITH OTHER THAN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN RESULTING IN THE EVENTUAL DIVINE INTERVENTION INTO THE SINFUL ACTS HUMANS SINFULLY COMMIT.

    NOW, HERE WE ARE AGAIN REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND FOLLOW GOD’S DIVINE PLAN OF NORMAL MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN AND WAITING FOR OUR ALMIGHTY AND POWERFUL GOD TO BLAZE WITH ANGER AND ANNIHILATE ANOTHER MODERN SODOM AND GOMORRAH !!!!! WE ARE BEING TOLD BY SOME HARDHEADED, CORRUPT AND SINFUL HUMANS USUALLY POLITICIANS TO FOLLOW THEIR DISTORTED AND SINFUL MORAL VALUES AND TO MOVE AWAY FROM WHAT IS GOOD AND WONDERFUL INTO AN UNHEALTHY AND DISTORTED “UNION OR COHABITATION” OF HUMANS. WORSE, HERE IS A CLERGY AND SOME YOUNG AND OLD INDIVIDUALS GOING AGAINST OUR ALMIGHTY GOD.

  • Ray

    I commend the Archbishop for taking a strong stand. The future of our nation rests upon this crucial matter. Archbishop Nienstedt, you and your flock are in my prayers.

  • Barb

    Homosexual behavior (homoerotic sex) is first a habit, then an addiction and finally a compulsion. Those who practice and/or promote homosexual practices are in a state of iniquity (a deep lawlessness of the heart and mind). God has seared their consciences because they have worshipped the self and the same sex, repeatedly and unrepentantly, instead of God. Read Romans 1:18-32. Those who practice same sex activities have a mind which is depraved with and by sin and they cannot see. The men prance around like drama queens, mistresses of their own domains, without any heed of their sin. The women march about defiantly spouting outrage and taking umbrage at God’s plan for sexuality. Because God has punished them for their guile by turning their minds over to the perversity that they practice, He is the only one who can remove the depravity, but only with the cooperation of the sinner. Not even good psychiatric care will heal them. When and if they hit rock bottom, God will grant them the humility they need to be saved. Until then, they will have minds infected with God’s justice. For now, we must individually be very careful whom we subject to the deviant practices of those who are depraved because they will pervert the masses. Our children are most at risk. As a Catholic, I find it difficult to tell the truth in love to this group because they will not see. They cannot see. Remember the word “iniquity.” And because God asks it of us, we must pray for their salvation.

  • Bill

    This is indeed a very big deal for the Church in Minnesota. A November poll shows that younger people appear to be against it while the older folks appear to be for it. It will be very interesting to find out how younger and older Catholics feel about the issue and whether adhere to the directives of their Bishops. Finally, you have the issue of the Church’s status as a charitable institution.