Monday, October 29, 2012

Open Letter to Archbishop Nienstedt – #5

The Progressive Catholic Voice's sharing of your open letters to Archbishop Nienstedt continues with the following letter by Patty Thorsen, who describes herself as "a Universalist by birth, a Christian through baptism, and a practicing Catholic by way of living." To learn more about this series and how to participate in it, click here.

Archbishop Nienstedt:

I am deeply disturbed by your appeal – your campaign – directed at me, fellow Catholics, and all Minnesota citizens to vote “Yes” on the Marriage Amendment. Same-sex marriage is not an affront to the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, as your appeal implies.

Quite to the contrary. Same-sex marriage is an affirmation of the committed, loving relationships to which all individuals engaged in the institution of marriage – homosexual and heterosexual – are called.

Being Christian, I am – we are – called to live guided by three principles Christ articulated, “faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” Being Catholic, I am – we are – called to respect life. Respect for – respect of – life does not begin at conception, nor does it end at death. Being Catholic, I am – we are – called to respect all of life – all committed, loving relationships between conception and death.

The Catholic Church I know and love blesses – sanctifies – committed, loving relationships. Be it through baptism, single life, vowed life, or married life, we are called to bless the living of all vocations – not exclusive to sexual orientation. To proclaim otherwise compromises the very integrity of all vocations.

The Catholic Church I know and love is called to live the meaning of its name, “catholic.” The Catholic Church I know and love is called to capitalize on the meaning of its name, “catholic” – universal.

We are called to be a universal church – a catholic Catholic Church – open to every individual without regard to sexual orientation.

Through Christ, we are called to be guided by faith, hope, and love. Through Christ, we are not called to exclude any individual from fully living their vocation – from fully expressing their love.

It is beyond my conception to understand a basic question raised by your opposition to same-sex marriage. You say that same-sex marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. It is not. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it is. I think we can both agree, marriage between a man and a woman is an expression of committed, loving relationship.

Same-sex couples called to marriage are called by the depth of their commitment – the depth of their love.

Archbishop Nienstedt, enlighten me.

How is it that one couple united by their love of and commitment to one another can threaten another couple who is united by their love of and commitment to each other? How?

If same-sex marriage were to be a threat to the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, what does that say regarding the integrity of heterosexual marriage that you declare sacred through the sacrament of marriage?

Archbishop Nienstedt, that troubles me.

I am called to vote “No” on the Marriage Amendment. I am called to celebrate the gifts brought forth when same-sex marriages – expressions of committed, loving relationships – are affirmed and treasured.

I invite you to join me in celebrating the gifts of individuals who are called to same-sex marriage. We need your leadership. Join me. Join others. It is not too late to vote “No” on the Marriage Amendment.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

– Patty Thorsen
St. Paul, Minnesota


  1. Patty Thorsen,

    I respectfully implore you to read God's word regarding marriage as a union and commitment of one man to one woman. To expect the Church that Christ established to turn from God's word regarding both marriage and same sex 'relations' is both unrealistic and uncharitable. People with same sex attractions have the same opportunity to live according to God's word as does anyone else. We all have our crosses to bear. We are all sinners. It is not in the best interest of any soul to validate him/her in sinful choices. ALL are called to chastity according to their vocation. The Church cannot condone the choice to engage in same sex 'relations' or 'marriage' because it is contrary to the word and will of God. Yet, the Church opens her arms to all regardless of sexual preference in faith, hope and love. We pray that each of us turns from our sins to live in accord with God's word.

    Most Sincerely,
    Linda Kichline

  2. I, as you, revere the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I am the youngest of three children born of such a sacred union of 66 years come September 11, 2014. Yet, my reverence does not preclude me from appreciating--from embracing--the vitality of same-sex marriage in creating a loving world. We can ill-afford to limit our understanding of marriage to heterosexual men and women. We must open ourselves to understanding human sexuality beyond titulating actions. Human sexuality, in its awe-filled fullness, far exceeds single actions. Human sexuality is not limited to traditional marriage, same-sex marriage, or living celibate. Human sexuality embraces the continuum. Human sexuality encompasses all that is involved in fulfilling our potential as human beings.
    Same-sex marriage. Commitment and union are not the sole province of heterosexual men and women who are married. Nor is sexual orientation a sin to endure.
    Quite to the contrary. Sin is the willful failure to fulfill one's God-given gifts, and human potential. Our cross to bear is the burden of knowing we have squandered our own talents, and fallen short of revealing the gifts we see in other human beings. Our cross to bear has no relation to sexual preference whatsoever.
    Jesus, through his words and deeds, called us to be revelatory people. We are called to validate--to affirm--all human beings on the basis of their humanity, not on actions as we may judge them to be. We are not our brother's or sister's doorkeepers of judgment. We have not been so empowered.
    Christ made clear three guiding principles must shape our daily lives: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
    Faith--unconditional faith. Hope--unconditional hope. Love--unconditional love. To condition faith, hope, and love on the basis of sexual preference dilutes the full meaning of our trifold call.
    Let us live as Children of God, passionately dedicated to living with unconditional faith, hope, and love, so help us God.
    Patty Thorsen