Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pastor Mike Tegeder Challenges Archbishop Nienstedt's "Bullying Behavior"

“It’s not the work of Jesus Christ,”
he tells the National Catholic Reporter.

Tom Roberts has interviewed Pastor Mike Tegeder of St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Bloomington for an October 5 article in the National Catholic Reporter. Tegeder (pictured at right) has been a vocal critic of the Minnesota bishops’ anti-gay marriage campaign – one that involved the mailing of a DVD to 400,000 Catholic households throughout the state. Tegeder’s criticism of the campaign and of Archbishop Nienstedt's role in it reached a mainstream audience when he had a letter-to-the-editor published October 2 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Catholics have very diverse opinions about this issue,” he wrote. “The bishops themselves are not united on how to approach this new reality of gays and lesbians claiming a right to have their own families publicly recognized with corresponding rights and responsibilities.” To support this view, Tegeder notes that: “the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, the main author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and friend of the pope, [has] publicly stated that the church needs to look differently at committed same-sex relationships. His fellow Austrian bishops concurred. These are thinking, serious church leaders. They listen.”

Following is an excerpt from Robert’s article.

. . . In an interview Oct. 4 with NCR, Tegeder said he had received overwhelmingly positive response to his letter, but had not yet received any reaction from Nienstedt.

Asked if he feared reprisal, he recalled that he'd already been threatened by the archbishop “with excommunication and interdict” for installing a cremation garden at the church. When he was called on the carpet, he said, he was able to produce documentation that showed his parish had complied with all of the diocesan and state regulations. He said he’s heard nothing further. “You have to know how to defend yourself,” he said, “because a lot of what we’re being told we have to follow just isn’t true.”

He also referred to Paul’s instruction to Timothy to be “strong, loving and wise.” While being strong “in our convictions, including our conviction about marriage,” said Tegeder, “we also have to be wise and loving.” It is those last two qualities, he said, that he finds “so missing in this DVD campaign.”

. . . What struck him [about the campaign], he said, “is that there were no names in it. It’s all ideology, all a theoretical viewpoint.”

He couldn’t help thinking, he said, of the two gay men in a long, committed relationship, who have adopted two boys “out of a hell hole of a Russian orphanage” and recently spent thousands to help one of their sons overcome a learning disability.” One’s view of the issue, he said, changes profoundly when you get to know people’s names and their circumstances.

“In this very difficult world where there are many divisive issues, we’ve got to begin getting to know each others’ names. We’re all up in arms about something that is about love, about people trying to find some happiness in this very difficult world. I’ve been to the mountain. I laughed when he sent that letter threatening excommunication and interdict,” Tegeder said.

“If he throws me out I can walk away from this with my head up … I love ministry. I wake up at 5 every day and stay busy until midnight. I love it. I’m energized by the opportunities.” But some things just need to be said, he remarked.

“This man is leading us in the wrong direction,” on this issue, he said of Nienstedt. “We have to call it for what it is – it’s bullying behavior. It’s not the work of Jesus Christ. It’s not the work of Jesus Christ.”

On the matter of obedience, he quoted from a book that he’s reading by Msgr. Dennis Murphy, A View from the Trenches: Ups and Downs of Today’s Parish Priest: “One dimension of this obedience that has become clearer in recent years is that there is more to this promise than a pledge or a commitment made only to a bishop. It encompasses obedience commitment to the church, and especially to the church understood as the people of the diocese within which the priest serves.”

“That says it all,” said Tegeder.

To read Roberts’ article in its entirety, click here.

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


  1. Why is it every time I see a picture of a so-called Progressive priest, they are never in clerical attire? Are they embarrassed? Ashamed? How old is Rev. Tegeder? Hopefully the Church will institute an early retirement program

  2. edit: Nevermind. He is 62 according to the article.

  3. He is quite the fashion plate. He is also on record with other letters objecting of Church regulations. He also regularly provides meeting space for dissident groups.

    But you can darn well better believe that he sleeps with the regulations providing for "tenure" for parish pastors under his pillow. And he has never failed to cash a paycheck and knows to the penny how much his pension will be worth.

    He may end up with some surprises in his retirement years.

    1. Your snark contributes nothing. What do you make of his fashion sense from a single photo, what insinuations are you intending, and how is it any less flamboyant than typical liturgical garb? As to his accepting a paycheck, are you suggesting that he is not doing his job? Just because he speaks his conscience?

      I am personally offended that the Church sees fit to use my donations to promote hatred, bigotry, and paranoia.

    2. The Church sees fit to promote what it infallibly teaches. If you cannot accept what the Church teaches, doesn't common sense say that you should find a home elsewhere -- perhaps the ECLA where your donations will go toward things that YOU decree to be correct?

  4. Dear CTK and Ray from MN. Your orthodoxy does not seem to lead you to kindness. Why do you sneer and scoff at people who think differently from you? It seems to me that so much of our scandalous division could be eliminated if we took each other seriously as well-meaning people and talked together. If Archbishop Nienstedt entered into dialogue with people, we may not have the situation we have. For example, we could talk about the causes for marriage break-down and come up with strategies for improvement. It's about working with each other. Will you consider that?

  5. Why is it that the self proclaimed orthodox always attack the messenger rather than address the message? No wonder none of us buy the "I hate the sin, love the sinner" speil which is so favored by the Orthodox. The sinner and the sin are the same in your heads and your statement about separating them is a self justifying personal delusion.

  6. I am going to respond to these posts using the words of one of my favorite Bishops in the Episcopal Church. Though he is retired, his successer Mark Beckwith is just as wonderful.

    In the words of Bishop John Shelby Spong author of the books: "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" and "A New Christianity for a New World"

    "I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy."

    "I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement."

    "I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude."

    I think that says about all I need to say.

    1. Nienstadt himself KNOWS, as does every Biblical scholar worth his salt, that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to do with homosexuality but with ancient laws on hospitality. That the archbishop insists on trotting out this argument anyway in this context is the merest cynicism and pandering. He knows that it will resonate among the ignorant so he goes there. It is ignoble.

  7. Priests like Father Tegeder are why I never attend the New (Novus Ordo) Catholic Mass--you never know what private little revolution is going to be on display in the liturgy.

    Since Summorum Pontificum, the traditional Mass of the Church has been growing and will, God willing, grow even more in the coming years.

    The Church is two thousand years old, and she will survive the last four decades of iconoclasm, wanton destruction, and narcissism. If the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church neither will the goofy radicalism or aging hippies. All the same, it has been very, very painful.

    Father Tegeder says that churches are empty in Europe. Not the traditionalist Churches. They're full of young families, and kids. They're bucking Europe's sterility trend.

    The sooner the Tegeders of the world pass into retirement, the better. I don't know what they were smoking in the seminaries in the 60's and 70's, but it didn't do the students any good. They should have stuck to burning incense in the sanctuaries rather than the dormitories.

  8. In my opinion, we need more priests like Fr. Tegeder, who seems to believe that "sensus fidelium' (the sense of the faithful) is a force to be reckoned with in our church, as taught by Vatican II. Problem is, too many of our priests, bishops,cardinals and recent popes are pretty much Vatican Zero. They need to wake up and smell the coffee before we lose the next generation of Catholics. Carol
    P.S. Modernity is not a dirty word. We need another council, one that will be implemented, not ignored, by the hierarchy.

  9. Oh dear! On this beautiful, God-given Friday morning, I learn that I'm a goofy, radical, aging (actually, aged) hippy. Not a pretty picture. But there is hope for me. Since I'm a dissident, too, I won't have to go to a nursing home. I can squeeze into some of that space Fr. Tegeder saves for dissidents. I have no fashion sense whatsoever, and I, too, have some familiarity with Latin. Britannia est insula; Italia non est insula; Vox Populi. Ellen

  10. If I was a priest in today's Catholic church, I would be in mufti most of the time, too! Why call attention to your membership in such a hateful group?

  11. Is the church a democracy.. where you can decided if you don't like something you can just challenge the Archbishop and call him names like bully and tell the entire congregation (which I witnessed at Fr. Tegeder's masses) that he can barely stomach praying for the man. You are critizing others for being mean and yet this is allowable from a so called teacher, leader of a parish? You fight with your boss this way? Try to get others to not like him too? This is a Christian attitude? This is not a calling to the Priesthood. This is a calling to self service and self opinion. What quotes has Fr. Tegeder used from the Catechism to make his points? I don't see him ever doing that and I have been a member of St Eds for many yrs- over 20. I also witnessed a homily where Fr. Tegeder openly supported abortion- said that the fetus wasn't a baby and that God would forgive you anyway. I believe this Priest needs prayers because not only has he caused a riff between the parishioners of his old parish, he has delivered half truths about the church to make his point. Why not follow the teachings of the church and if you have to disagree, try to change it from within rather than trying to rally the troops to be on your side and be angry like he is. People at St Eds are so mixed up now. It's wrong, unfair to the congregation and has divided the parish. This was Fr. Tegeders doing not the Archbishop with the Catechism on his side. By the way, for those that mentioned other Bishops that would like to see a more progressive church- I would love to see in entirety what they actually said. I have my doubts that they have actually said these things.

  12. I am amused by, "He is also on record with other letters objecting of Church regulations. He also regularly provides meeting space for dissident groups." As I see it, Jesus was the leader of a dissident group.

  13. The church is putting out traditional, obedient, and thoroughly educated seminarians now. The future of the priesthood will see no more of this childish opposition. I hate to tell you all this, but the church of which you speak is simply outdated. I would urge you to consider either authentically embracing Catholicism or becoming an Episcopalian..

  14. Today Fr. Tegeder's life is celebrated as the man/priest we knew is buried. I saw him as a brother to Jesus Christ and hope that he has some time to spend now with him face to face. What would Jesus say to Mike Tegeder. I can imagine it would be something like this... "Good work brother. Hey, there's a place for you up here... if you don't mind staying a while... if you need help moving in or covering the rent... Not that there is any. Haha. There's many people here that you might remember. They would love an opportunity to give back some of what you shared with them when they were in need. You touched soo many hearts and never forgot about me. You fed our brothers and sisters when they were hungry. You clothed them when they were cold or exposed no matter what age, race, or religion... You spent time with them in their despair. I know these thing brother Mike because you always passed my name on to them... You didn't have to do that brother but you did because you listened when I said what so ever you do to the least of my brothers you do onto me. Anyhow, enough about me... Welcome home brother". Now to you reading this... what would Mike Tegeder say to Jesus?

    Blessings to all you love and care for...