A group of 80 former Minnesota Catholic priests spoke out May 17 against the proposed marriage amendment at a media event in Minneapolis. Representatives distributed a list of the 80 former priests, who, they emphasized, "collectively devoted more than 1,000 years of service to the Church."
Since active priests in the local archdiocese were strongly discouraged to engage in any public dissent on this issue, the former priests stated they were "free to express our opinions openly."
The spokesmen, all highly respected in church circles, explained that Catholics have a choice on this matter when they vote in November.
Paul Mohrbacher, a published novelist and playwright, said: "The amendment is called the 'Sanctity of Marriage' amendment. The name implies that we should be very afraid for the institution of marriage if it is defeated, sanctity has never been a property of the law." He concluded that "people of faith can be opposed in good conscience to this amendment."
John Estrem, the former rector of the St. Paul Cathedral, cited a striking example of how discrimination can harm gay Catholics. He said that "the church I know and love is about welcoming and inclusion. We live in a pluralistic society."
Ed Flahavan, a priest for 48 years, served on Governor's Task Force on Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans. He revealed that his homophobia quickly evaporated when he got to know some gay people. "For the life of me," he said, "I cannot see how same-sex marriage is in any way a threat to my happy marriage."
Following is the statement released by the group.
As former Catholic priests who collectively devoted more than 1,000 years of service to the Church, we strongly oppose the proposed marriage amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Free to express our opinions openly, we call on all people of good will to exercise their fundamental right to follow their consciences and to resist discrimination against any of God's children.
We encourage Minnesotans to base their vote on principles of justice and love. the proposed amendment, in violation of those principles, would deprive an individual of his or her right to marry the person he or she loves. Therefore, as former priests, we encourage all Minnesotans to vote "NO" on the marriage amendment.
Recommended Off-site Links:
Resigned Priest Ed Flahavan: I Have Heard the Arguments for the Marriage Amendment and I Find Them Wanting, Prejudicial and Destructive – Sensus Fidelium (May 17, 2012).
Some MN Priests Split with Catholic Hierarchy Over Marriage Amendment – Sasha Aslanian (Minnesota Public Radio, May 17, 2012).
Conflicted Catholics: Consciences Wrestle with Church Actions on Marriage Amendment – Beth Hawkins (MinnPost, April 18, 2012).
Catholics Engaged in Gay Marriage Battle – Sasha Aslanian (Minnesota Public Radio News, May 14, 2012).
"This is the Living Word" – Sensus Fidelium (March 28, 2012).
A Catholic Rationale for Opposing the "Marriage Amendment" – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, March 2, 2012).
The Minneapolis (and Online) Premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, October 17, 2011).
Archbishop Just One of Many Catholic Voices in Gay Marriage Debate – Michael Bayly (Sensus Fidelium, December 12, 2011).