By Hilary White

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, May 5, 2008 ( – The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has cancelled the appearance of the pro-abortion Dr. Steven Miles, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics who was to appear at the diocese’s St. Joan of Arc parish. But while the archdiocese has been clear that no pro-abortion speaker may use a Catholic institution as a platform on any subject, the parish has arranged for him to give the talk tomorrow night at the Carondolet Center, a retreat centre operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, St. Paul Province.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying that the decision was based “solely” on Dr. Miles’ public advocacy of abortion, “which is fundamentally contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church”. The decision was based on “guidance” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who said in 2004 that “the Catholic community should not provide speaking platforms for those who act in defiance of our basic moral principles”.

“The decision is in no way a repudiation of Dr. Miles’ commendable work in the area of torture and torture victims,” the statement added.

In his bioethics writing and lecturing, Dr. Miles has become a leading voice in amongst those who have made allegations that the Bush administration has used torture in its “war on terror.” Dr. Miles was to give a talk, “Torture and the Courage to Be Inconvenienced” on the alleged use of torture by US intelligence agencies in the Iraq war. Miles was to speak twice at St. Joan of Arc church, a parish that has aligned itself with an array of issues on the extreme left of the political spectrum and that has become famous for its determined opposition to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
  Dr. Miles posted the text of the talk on the internet and in the introduction admitted that he is “pro-choice on abortion and pro-euthanasia,” although he says he has “written and spoke [sic] against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” 

The move to stop the talk came after Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) alerted pro-life Catholics to Dr. Miles’ position on abortion and euthanasia and asked them to contact the archdiocese. In 2004, while pro-abortion Senator John Kerry was using Catholic venues to pursue his bid for the US presidency, the American bishops issued an instruction that no person who is publicly opposed to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life may use a Catholic institution as a platform.

Paul Schmelzer, a parishioner at St. Joan of Arc, wrote in the Twin Cities Daily Planet that, while the parish obeyed the letter of the archdiocese’s order and cancelled Dr. Miles’ speaking engagements at the church, the parish social justice coordinator Julie Madden simply arranged another venue for the talk. Dr. Miles will appear tomorrow night at the Carondelet Center in St. Paul, operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, a Catholic women’s religious order in good standing that maintains close ties with the CPCSM .

Under the leadership of the former Archbishop Harry Flynn, who retired last week, St. Joan of Arc parish gained international notoriety as one of the Catholic parishes in the US most openly opposed to the Church’s teaching on sexuality. St. Joan of Arc has long been the unofficial headquarters of the St. Paul – Minneapolis archdiocesan homosexual movement. Despite an intervention from the Vatican in 2004 that forced the parish to remove material related to the local Gay Pride parade, it maintains its contacts with the quasi-official CPCSM, a group that is implacably opposed to Catholic teaching on chastity and sexual purity.

Archbishop John Nienstedt who replaced Flynn as the head of the diocese last week, has instituted a series of liturgical and disciplinary reforms to parish life that has infuriated the liberal establishment in the diocese.

Nick Coleman wrote yesterday in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that parishioners at St. Stephen’s parish were outraged at Archbishop Nienstedt’s instructions to bring the parish liturgical offerings into line with the regular practices of the Catholic Church.

Coleman writes disapprovingly of the archbishop’s order to shut down a “prayer service” that had been in place since 1968. “You know the kind of service,” he wrote, “with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers. It’s all so 1960s.”

As with many Catholic parishes that fully embraced such liturgical renovations in the 1960s, St. Stephen’s was also a leading force in the move to abandon the Church’s moral doctrine. In 2004, St. Stephen’s was included in a shortlist of the US’s most “gay friendly parishes” for the Minneapolis-St. Paul archdiocese by the homosexual activist website The other “gay-friendly” Catholic sites listed for the archdiocese included St. Francis Cabrini parish, St. Joan of Arc, and the University of St. Thomas
  and the College of St. Catherine.

At the website,, St. Stephen’s, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis Cabrini and the two colleges are also included on a list of gay-friendly parishes together with, Incarnation, St. Albert the Great, St. Lawrence and St. Philip parishes.

To contact the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis:
  226 Summit Avenue
  Saint Paul, MN 55102
  (651) 291-4400
[email protected]

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