ST. PAUL, MINNNESOTA, January 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has told his clergy they are not to publicly contradict the Church’s teachings on the defense of marriage, nor oppose the archdiocese’s attempts to place a constitutional amendment on the state ballot defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The Progressive Catholic Voice, which supports same-sex “marriage,” received a copy of an e-mail the archbishop sent all priests and deacons containing the text of a speech he delivered last October 19.

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

He believes efforts to redefine marriage now threaten to overwhelm the culture and confuse a generation of children. “Today we can say with clarity what the natural reality of marriage is,” he said.“That may not be possible in years to come if we fail to be successful now.” 

Although the Church’s ultimate goal is promoting the spiritual life, Abp. Nienstedt views the defense of marriage as part of the New Evangelization. He has appointed teams consisting of one priest and a married couple to explain the Church’s full beliefs on the sacrament of marriage in Catholic schools.

“I want the focus here to be a positive one - let’s celebrate the reality of what God designed from the beginning as affirmed in the first chapter of Genesis and that Jesus reaffirmed in the 19th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel,” Archbishop Nienstedt said.

The archbishop added, “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.” He asked churches of the archdiocese to assist the funding of the marriage defense.

Catholics seeking to change the Faith’s constant teaching on sexual morality were outraged by his actions. “When I first read this letter I couldn’t believe that the Archbishop was telling priests and deacons to be silent if they were opposed to the marriage amendment,” said Paula Ruddy , an editor at The Progressive Catholic.

Dennis McGrath. Director of Communications, said the diocese has encountered fierce opposition because of its stance. “We’ve got some hard folks to deal with right now,” he said, adding the media, who do not understand traditional Christian teachings, are “serving as a megaphone for these LGBT groups.”

McGrath, who would neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the speech text, said the archbishop has suffered “outlandish” assaults. “He’s got every right to send a letter to his priests on that.” He said priests publicly defending - or at least not contradicting - Church teaching on moral issues should be “de rigueur.”

Archbishop Nienstedt has served as archbishop in St. Paul since 2008.

Contact Information:
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
226 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55102
(651) 291-4400