Twin Cities Archbishop: Same-sex marriage ban not debatable

Catholic leadership wants local clergy to stay silent if they don't support a same-sex marriage ban.
Catholic leadership wants local clergy to stay silent if they don't support a same-sex marriage ban.

The Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul supports banning same-sex marriage, and he wants Twin Cities clergy to avoid publicly discussing the issue.

In a letter addressed to priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt writes that "in the movement to protect and defend the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman we are faced with one of the greatest challenges of our times."

"There ought not be open dissension on this issue," he adds.

In his letter, Archbishop Nienstedt frames the need for a marriage amendment as follows:

None of us can deny that the institution of marriage and family life are unraveling before our very eyes due to no-fault divorce, wide-spread cohabitation and promiscuous sexual activity. The end game 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. This can only lead to continued destabilizing the family unit itself. Both those realities will happen if marriage is redefined or, perhaps better put, "undefined." Today we can say with clarity what the natural reality of marriage is. That may not be possible in years to come if we fail to be successful now. As I see it, we have this one chance as Minnesotans to make things right. The stakes could not be higher.

Later on, addressing clergy directly, the Archbishop writes:

It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all -- on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.

In response to the Archbishop's letter, the American Independent quoted members of Progressive Catholic Voice disappointed with the Catholic Church's support of the marriage amendment and decision to avoid public discussion of the issue.

Paula Ruddy, parishioner at Minneapolis's St. Boniface and a member of Progressive Catholic Voice's editorial board, said:

Is one's position on whether the State constitution should be amended a matter of Church doctrine? How are Catholics to form their consciences if their pastors are not candid with them?

In a comment thread on Progressive Catholic Voice in response to the Archbishop's letter, a commenter makes the point that if the problems the marriage amendment is meant to address are no-fault divorce, wide-spread cohabitation, and promiscuous sexual activity, then the solution should be a constitutional amendment to outlaw those things -- not a drive to ban same-sex marriage.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Unfortunately, as has too often been the case throughout the Church's history, logic almost certainly won't prevail over dogma when it comes to Catholic leadership's stance on the same-sex marriage issue.

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