Minneapolis Archbishop Condemned for Giving Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality

His column harshly criticized for "spiritual violence" and "persecution" toward homosexuals


By Meg Jalsevac

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt November 19, 2007 ( - In a recent column in the local diocesan newspaper, Minneapolis/St. Paul Coadjuter Archbishop John C. Nienstedt concisely explained the Church’s teaching regarding both a homosexual’s obligation to chastity and the Church’s obligation to support and encourage such a chaste lifestyle. The column has caused a backlash of harsh criticism from the ‘homosexual community’ in what has until recently been known as a notoriously liberal Catholic diocese.

  Archbishop Nienstedt’s column in the diocesan paper ‘The Catholic Spirit’ was authored as a sequel to a previous column, written by the paper’s editor, Joe Towalski. That article had, according to Archbishop Nienstedt, "addressed the issue of the church’s teaching on homosexuality" and "the reason why those who promote homosexual activity or a homosexual lifestyle are not permitted to speak at Catholic institutions."

  Both columns stemmed from a recent incident at a local Minneapolis Catholic parish when a scheduled speaking engagement by an openly lesbian woman and her father was cancelled after diocesan officials learned of it. The woman involved, Carol Curoe, is the author of a book entitled ‘Are There Closets in Heaven?  A Catholic Father and a Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story."

  Nienstedt began his column referring to the document issued by the US bishops just prior to the 2004 election.  "The second to last point of that document was our collective resolve that Catholic churches, colleges and other institutions should not give "awards, honors or platforms" to persons who, whether Catholic or not, held public positions contrary to the church’s defined teaching. To do so would cause scandal, leading Catholics to be confused about what is right and wrong according to the teachings of the church, prompting them to endorse or even to commit immoral behavior."

  Nienstedt concluded that the explanations laid out in the 2004 document explained the reasons why Curoe’s talk at a Catholic parish would not be appropriate.

  The archbishop went further, as very few American bishops have dared in recent years, to explicitly detail the logical consequences due any Catholics who act against this matter of serious Catholic moral teaching. He wrote, "Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin. They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving Holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest." 

  While many critics harshly criticized Archbishop Nienstedt’s column for what they referred to as "spiritual violence" and "persecution", most seemed to totally neglect the fact that Nienstedt was simply giving Catholic teaching that any Catholic bishop in the world is also obligated to present and defend.

  Also seemingly ignored was the fact he called attention to a more recent USCCB document entitled "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care."  As previously reported by, the document clearly elucidates Church teaching on homosexuality but calls all Catholics to treat homosexuals with "respect, compassion and sensitivity."

  Nienstedt also drew attention to and provided contact information for two already established faithfully Catholic support groups that offered practical and spiritual guidance to both individuals with a homosexual inclination and their families. 

  Despite the archbishop’s admission that he was instrumental in establishing two such homosexual support groups in a previous diocese and that, through such ministry, he had "met many impressive and, I would say, heroic individuals through that movement", critics such as Mary Lynn Murphy of Catholic Rainbow Parents, condemned the archbishop’s column as "extreme talk" that should be considered offensive to all Catholics because it "gives license to hatred and violence against us all." 

  Murphy lectured the bishop stating, "The new archbishop should apologize, begin to educate himself on the topic of sexual orientation, and be the prophetic voice for the much-needed reform of the church’s understanding of homosexuality."

  In an interview given near the time of his installation as coadjutor archbishop who will fully succeed current Archbishop Harry Flynn in 2008, Archbishop Nienstedt explained his understanding and respect for the responsibility of his pastoral vocation. "I do not come as a politician but as a priest, as one who sees his life as being a bridge between God and his people.  I do not come as a CEO, but as a pastor, as one who intends to teach the truth, to celebrate the sacraments, and to shepherd the people of God in the ways of Jesus Christ so that they might one day inherit eternal life."

  Read Archbishop’s Nienstedt’s entire column:…

  Read previous coverage:

  Proposed US Bishops Document on Homosexuality Encourages Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin

  New Catholic Bishop Expected to Bring Orthodoxy and Opposition to Homosexual Agenda to Minneapolis

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