DULUTH, Minnesota, September 4, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Catholic priest’s donation to support redefining marriage in Minnesota has been revealed, deepening a rift between a conservative Catholic hierarchy and more liberal subordinates in the blue state over gay ‘marriage.’

The Duluth News Tribune reported Sunday that Rev. Peter Lambert of St. Louis Catholic Church in Floodwood had donated $1,000 to Minnesotans United for Families, the group fighting a constitutional marriage amendment, in March.

The Diocese of Duluth, where Lambert is stationed, has donated $50,000 to support the traditional marriage amendment. Duluth Diocese spokesman Kyle Eller told the Tribune that Lambert didn’t intend the donation to be a public statement.

“It was my understanding that Father Lambert wasn’t aware that the contribution would be made public, and it wasn’t intended to be a public statement,” said Eller, who declined further comment.

The diocese didn’t immediately respond to an email from LifeSiteNews.com requesting comment Tuesday.

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The bishops in Minnesota have ranked among the most outspoken Catholic defenders of traditional marriage in the country in recent years. In 2010, the prelates backed a comprehensive six-week campaign to re-catechize their flock on the Church’s moral teaching on marriage and sexuality.

In January, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis emphasized to clergy under his purview, which includes the Duluth diocese, the importance of their adherence to Church doctrine on the marriage question.

“The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all,” he said. “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.”

Nienstedt again urged the Catholic faithful this Sunday to support the proposed marriage amendment that will appear on the general election ballot this November.

Supporters of redefining marriage have meanwhile been targeting Catholics with their own message.

An openly homosexual religious priest from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. told a crowd of 200 in June that Catholics are permitted to vote against the amendment as a matter of freedom of conscience.

“I believe this amendment violates an important principle of Catholic teaching, and that as Catholics, we can vote no,” Rev. Bob Pearson said.