Mark Ritchie uninvited to speak at Catholic church... or is he? [UPDATE]

Ritchie is persona non grata to Minnesota's Catholic leadership.
Ritchie is persona non grata to Minnesota's Catholic leadership.

-- Mark Ritchie's amendment title: "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples"
-- DeLeSalle student, during anti-gay school assembly, holds up sign: "I love my moms"

:: ORIGINAL POST, August 1, 10:20 a.m. ::

St. Joan of Arc Church in south Minneapolis recently extended a speaking invitation to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Ritchie was due to deliver a talk called "A Spiritual Path for Democracy" on August 12.

But that invitation has been rescinded. Though St. Joan's has a reputation for hosting relatively liberal speakers -- feminist Gloria Steinem spoke there in 1978 -- it appears the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis won't tolerate one of its churches giving the pulpit to Minnesota's left-leaning election official.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso told the Pioneer Press that Ritchie's public opposition to both the voter ID and same-sex marriage ban amendments is "just not appropriate."

"The invitation to him is in the process of being withdrawn," Accurso added. "He will not be speaking on the 12th."

What would Jesus think?
What would Jesus think?

As we told you about in June, Ritchie wants the title of the marriage amendment to be "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite-sex couples." On the other hand, amendment proponents -- including, presumably, the Catholic church -- prefer "Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman." Yesterday, the state Supreme Court heard arguments from Ritchie and Republican lawmakers on either side of the issue, and a decision regarding which amendment title is more appropriate might be issued before August is through.

Catholics are the largest contributors to Minnesota for Marriage, the state's most prominent pro-amendment group. Financial reports published in late June revealed that $400,000 of the $588,000 Minnesota for Marriage raised came from the Minnesota Catholic Conference Defense Fund, with the Minnesota Family Council Marriage Protection fund kicking in $150,000, and the National Organization for Marriage contributing another $15,000.

We're going to try and follow up with Ritchie's reaction to the un-invitation either later today or tomorrow.

:: UPDATE, August 1, 1:25 p.m. ::

The Star Tribune reported over the noon hour that St. Joan's still thinks Ritchie's speech is on for August 12.

Dennis Heaney, communications director for the church, said the offer to the Secretary of State "has not been rescinded."

"We did talk to the archdiocese back and forth on the phone yesterday, and they didn't give us any order," Heaney said. "There was no instruction given from them at all. So right now, Mr. Ritchie is still on our schedule."

But archdiocese spokesman Accurso maintains that Ritchie's invitation has been rescinded.

"That's my understanding," he told the Strib.

We'll keep you posted.

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