Wednesday October 20, 2010

Archbishop Nienstedt Defends Diocese’s Aggressive Pro-Marriage Campaign

By Kathleen Gilbert

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, October 20, 2010 ( – The Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis has exhorted Catholics to stick close to Church teaching as the archdiocese catches flak for its aggressive campaign to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage.

The archdiocese sent out over 400,000 DVDs to area Catholics last month explaining the Catholic Church’s position and rationale on same-sex “marriage” – a move decried by some Catholics as too “political.” Media have been covering instances where the DVDs have been met with outrage or mockery, including the reaction of one artisan, an artist-in-residence at the Basilica of Saint Mary, who has collected about 1,300 DVDs to cut and “recycle” into art.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, however, refuses to back out of the debate.

“We’re part and parcel of the culture, so it’s important for us to be involved with those discussions and have our say,” Nienstedt told the Associated Press Monday. He counseled Catholics to “either be hot or cold” but not lukewarm on their loyalty to the faith.

“I believe that it’s important that if you’re going to be Catholic, that you have to be 100 percent Catholic,” Nienstedt told the Associated Press on Monday. “That you stand by the church, you believe what the church believes and you pass that on to your sons and daughters and your grandsons and granddaughters.”

Nienstedt also caused a stir last month for denying Communion to a group, including nuns and a priest, who wore rainbow sashes signifying their opposition to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The protesters, who said the archbishop “made it political” by denying the sacrament, were later given Communion by a priest of the diocese.

In the DVDs, Archbishop Nienstedt issues a personal message warning Catholics against current efforts “to change the definition of marriage from being an institution of one man and one woman for the benefit of children and society, to an institution without gender roles, where the desires of individual adults are the primary focus.”

Nienstedt compares the potential negative effects of same-sex “marriage” to the chaos inflicted by no-fault divorce laws 40 years ago, and warned that instituting same-sex “marriage” would invariably lead to children in public schools being taught that such “marriage” is equivalent to true marriage.

The archbishop also notes that, “The Church’s teaching on marriage is not a condemnation of homosexual persons as human beings, it is simply a reflection, not only of the Scriptures, but of the unique procreative nature of the male and female body.” He ends his message with a call for a voter referendum to preserve marriage in the state constitution.

The DVDs also include a documentary produced by the Knights of Columbus explaining further the Church’s position on same-sex “marriage,” as well as the threat to both society and Christian churches posed by such a change.

A local group of lay Catholics have launched a website to help educate Catholic voters on the candidates’ position on the issue. For more information, visit

The marriage issue is a central issue for the state’s upcoming election to fill the seat of outgoing Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty: Democrat candidate Mark Dayton and Independent Tom Horner’s support for same-sex “marriage” stands in contrast to Republican candidate Tom Emmer’s position in favor of traditional marriage.

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