Sunday, January 15, 2012

Showdown in Twin Cities as Archbishop Nienstedt digs in...

From the StarTribune:

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."


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."

Read the full story at the StarTribune: Priests told not to voice dissent

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