Last week, embattled Archbishop John Nienstedt did the media rounds, granting one-on-one interviews to most local outlets. (Our invitation must've gotten lost in the mail...)
Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden's interview with the archbishop was especially noteworthy. Lyden, who's married to a man he's been in a relationship with for more than two decades, grilled Nienstedt about his own sexuality and anti-gay views. The line of questioning culminated in the archbishop acknowledging that his beliefs about the sinfulness of same-sex sexual relations don't seemingly make much sense at all.
Here's a transcript of the portion of Lyden's interview that came right after Nienstedt denied being homosexual or ever having partaken in homosexual relations, followed by the raw video:
Nienstedt: I'm not against gays. I look at all individuals [as] children of God and they deserve the respect and the dignity of their personhood.
Lyden: That's not what you said about Brokeback Mountain the movie. You came out pretty strongly about that being an immoral movie.
N: I was critical of the movie, yes. I don't know if I used the word 'immoral.'
L: And yet that seems to contradict what you're telling me now, your criticism of that movie.
N: The church makes a clear distinction between someone who would have an attraction that would be same sex and the behavior itself.
L: So when you say you have nothing against homosexuals, you have nothing against homosexuals as long as they're not having sex.
N: We believe, correctly, that sexual relations take place within the context of a committed marriage relationship.
L: And yet the church is opposed to marriage and you fought gay marriage.
N: I didn't fight gay marriage. I fought for marriage as a traditional understanding of a union between a man and a woman.
L: I don't want to get too off the rails on this issue, and yet there is a contradiction here that I don't think can be denied. On the one hand, you said you're not against homosexual relations as long as they take place in the confines of a marriage, a committed relationship--
N: I didn't say homosexual... [sex is to take place] within the context of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.
L: Okay. What about homosexuals?
N: Homosexuals need to lead chaste lives.
L: They need to lead celibate lives?
N: Well, yes.
L: Okay. Does that seem reasonable to you, that we should all lead the lives of priests?
N: Well... um...
L: Tell me, archbishop, why should I lead the life of a priest?
A: Because it is of your nature to, um, express yourself sexually through a committed relationship.
L: I am. I've been with the same partner and husband now for 21 years.
Later, Lyden, referring to that exchange, told Nienstedt: "It does not seem to make sense to me as I sit here, what you've just laid out."
"I can understand that, yes," Nienstedt replied.
Asked whether he'd like to clarify anything, Nienstedt asserted, "Well, I think that as we look at the way God made us, God made us to express ourselves sexually between a man and a woman in a committed married relationship."
But the issue Lyden did such a tremendous job highlighting is that the archbishop can't muster good reasons why any thinking person should take heed of "the way God made us" beyond blind deference to Catholic dogma.