Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Invitation from Catholics for Marriage Equality MN


Lent is upon us – that time of the liturgical year when our tradition wisely calls us to repent, to turn around and away from all that holds us back from fully experiencing God’s abundant love in our lives.

This year we have a wonderful opportunity to be part of a special Lenten observance – a weekly prayer vigil, starting this Sunday, February 26, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in front of the chancery offices of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (located opposite the Cathedral of St. Paul at 226 Summit Ave., St. Paul).

This prayer vigil has been born out of the concern and sorrow of countless Catholics over the Minnesota bishops’ spending of well over one million dollars since September 2010 on ensuring the passage of the so-called “marriage amendment,” an unnecessary constitutional ban on civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in Minnesota. Many of us believe that the time, energy and financial resources that the bishops are directing toward supporting the marriage amendment should be directed instead toward actions that reflect Jesus’ Gospel call to care for the poor and marginalized.

You are invited to join with members and friends of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN ( each Sunday during Lent at the chancery. We will carry the “Catholics for Marriage Equality MN” banner and you are welcome to bring your own signs that respectfully convey the vigil’s message. Together we will pray that Archbishop Nienstedt and all the bishops of Minnesota experience a change of heart on the marriage amendment; that they ‘turn around’ and be open to the love and beauty embodied in same-sex relationships and families. We’ll also be praying that the bishops may be open to the experiences and insights of the majority of U.S. Catholics who support civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

I hope you can join us for this special Lenten observance. For more information, click here.


Michael Bayly
Executive Coordinator, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN


  1. In this country one may believe and express any religious tenets that one personally desires and express them in any legal and non-disruptive way one chooses. That is one of our constitutional rights and freedoms and applies to all citizens. One may also join any religious sect of his/her choice. If one sect does not reflect his beliefs, he may choose another. However, to expect a religious sect, or one who supports such a religion, to change the core beliefs of that religion, is both improper and preposterous.

    The Catholic Church, and the Bishops who are bound to support its teachings as confirmed by the bible and tradition, will not and must not violate that teaching and their conscience by advocating or supporting any changes to that teaching to accomodate those who choose to disagree with it.

    It is the belief of the Catholic Church and those obliged to support it, that certain unchangeable teachings and beliefs of the Church come directly from Jesus to his Church through its bishops and no one has the authority to make changes to them. It is therefore presumptuous and futile for those who choose to disagree with those core Catholic beliefs, to believe that lobbying or demonstrating will bring about the changes they so advocate and desire.

    Bishop Nienstedt is well within his constitutional and moral rights and responsibilities to advocate and promote those core Catholic beliefs to his fellow Catholics and should not be criticized for doing so in every way he chooses. He is considered by Catholics to be the advocate and protector of all of the core beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church, and he does not have the power and should not have the will to change them at the behest of those who disagree with them. All of the prayer vigils and demonstrations in front of the the Chancery or his residence will not, cannot change those core teachings that are found in the catechism and tradition of the Catholic Church. If such would or could happen, the Catholic Church could no longer be considered truly Catholic.

    Those who choose to be truly Catholic, take note.

    Dick Houck

  2. Hi, Dick. Welcome. You sound like a very sincere person. Many of us who have been life-long Catholics believe that the whole church, bishops,including the bishop of Rome, the pope, priests, and lay people all together are responsible to hear how the Holy Spirit is leading the church. I just read this sentence in a book by a theologian who teaches at St. Thomas and says this is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church: The Holy Spirit does not just speak to the community through the biahop; the Holy Spirit also speaks to the bishop through the community. What do you think of that idea?

  3. Paula,
    It seems to me that the Holy Spirit does indeed speak through all of the members of the Church, but not in the same way or for the same purpose. We are a body with many members. Last time I checked, it is in fact Catholic teaching that the Bishops, in union with the Holy See, are capapable of speaking on matters of faith and morals, and in such a way that it binds the faithful.
    This reminds me of the different presences of Christ at the Mass - Jesus is certainly present in the assembly of believers and in the priest celebrant, but in a very different way than the Eucharistic Species, where He is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity. So too, Jesus is present in the proclamation of the Word, but not as He is present in the consecrated elements.

    I would be very inetrested to hear what the opinoin of the "Progressive Catholic Voice" is regarding Chapter 3 of "Lumen Gentium."

    From this chapter, in paragraph 22 -

    "But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head."

  4. Well Paula, you have just bought into a thinking that has led many into all kinds of false and mistaken personal interpretations of actual Truth - with a capital "T" - that which is unchangeable; and some, hopefully not many theologians also are there to lead those like you astray. That is what makes the Catholic Church different from all other religions.

    The Catholic Church is the only Church that dates back to the beginning of Christianity and all true Catholics believe that the Bishops are the unbroken line of decendents of the apostles, who received the direction from Jesus to go and teach all nations the Truth. The Truth is not something. The Truth is somebody - Jesus. True Catholics also believe that the Bishops therefore, are the only ones who have the authority direct from Jesus to preach and interpret the scriptures and formulate the Faith that all Catholics must believe. Not you nor the theologian at St. Thomas, nor I nor anyone else have the authority to contradict the official teachings of the Church as proclaimed by the Pope in conjunction with the Bishops and as proclaimed by the Church through the bishops.
    Now you may disagree with or contest that along with the theologian at St. Thomas, but in so doing, you are placing yourself outside of the Catholic Church, for only those who accept ALL of the teachings of the Church can and will be considered Catholic. Proclaiming that you are Catholic and not accepting ALL of its teachings only says that you deceive yourself.


    1. I really have to wonder if Jesus would accept "ALL of the teachings" of today's Catholic Church, especially since the Constantinian model of Church--with a hierarchy invested in power and control--didn't exist for some 300 years after He died. I also wonder just whom He would want to throw out of the temple.

  5. Hi, Dick. There were times in the Church's history when all bishops taught things that have subsequently been found to be not true. I do not believe that humans have Truth in any absolute sense. We are all just trying to come at it together. If the bishops listen hard enough to the theologians and the faithful, if they are keen thinkers, wise and prudent and prayerful, they are in a better position to lead the Church. It takes the whole human family to come over long periods of time to truth. Dick, I respect your integrity in being true to your understanding of Catholicism. I think it is great that we can all share the same faith in God with such different ideas. The test is in loving our neighbor, right?

  6. It is not possible for something to be true for one person and not true for another. Either teh Church has recieved the fullness of Divine Revelation or it has not. Whether one accepts this shocking claim or not is deeply important.

  7. What exactly is this "fullness of Divine Revelation" of which you speak? Are you really saying that the Roman Catholic Church has all the answers, here and now?

  8. This seems to be a request that Archbishop Nienstedt jettison his vow of obedience to the Church and 2,000 years of wisdom on matters of human sexuality.

    A special interest in those without a voice or representation -- namely, children -- should at least give pause before reconfiguring the definition of marriage in the service of the interests of some.

    The Church's teaching does not, finally, rest on divine revelation, but on a valid anthropology of the human person, which, in the Church's teaching, is not the possession of believers alone, but is accessible to reason and therefore to all people of good will. Only because the teaching does not depend on revelation does it make sense for the Church to advocate for the preservation of marriage in the public square. If it depended on faith, then the Church could rightly be accused of seeking to bring sectarian values to bear on the public.

    The Church has not done a good job, often times, in showing the basic human values and virtues that lead her to advocate for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But I think some of her members are becoming clearer about this.

    John Paul II made the bold claim, following on the teaching of Paul VI, that the Church is an expert in humanity. This point is important if we’re going to understand the Church’s witness in regard to moral truth. The moral life does not pertain simply to Christians or members of other religions; it is a gift and a task for every human being. As mother and teacher, the Church feels an obligation to provide a moral witness to the entire world, regardless of creed… because the moral life concerns what is essential to being human. It’s a bold claim the Church makes, but notice, she models her authority on the Lord she follows... it is an authority that is not clawing after power, but is sacrificial in nature. It’s rooted in service: “she [the Church] places herself at the service of every individual and of the whole world.” (Veritatis Splendor, 3).

    Some claim that the Church has it out for them, that the Christian God has it out for them, but that is a distorted view of the situation... the shadowy view of those for whom the radiance of truth is seen as blinding and punishing, rather than as a source of freedom. The Church, in her moral teaching, is not trying to impose a creed on the world, but to offer the service of a moral witness that is truly human. In her sinful members, this witness is often weak, to be sure, and sometimes contradicted by bad behavior. But does this mean the Church should turn out the lights and let fallen humanity continue on the trajectory of its fallenness? As mother, the Church cannot stop loving and nurturing her children, both within and beyond her visible communion. In this, she is obedient to her Lord.

  9. Pope Benedict addressed this very issue this morning in his audience with the bishops of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

    "Particular mention must be made of the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage. The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defence of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation. Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike."

    "In our conversations, some of you have pointed with concern to the growing difficulties encountered in communicating the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family in its integrity, and to a decrease in the number of young people who approach the Sacrament of Matrimony. Certainly we must acknowledge deficiencies in the catechesis of recent decades, which failed at times to communicate the rich heritage of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural institution elevated by Christ to the dignity of a Sacrament, the vocation of Christian spouses in society and in the Church, and the practice of marital chastity".

    "On the practical level, marriage preparation programmes must be carefully reviewed to ensure that there is greater concentration on their catechetical component and their presentation of the social and ecclesial responsibilities entailed by Christian marriage. In this context we cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society. I encourage your efforts to develop clear pastoral and liturgical norms for the worthy celebration of matrimony which embody an unambiguous witness to the objective demands of Christian morality, while showing sensitivity and concern for young couples".

    "In this great pastoral effort there is an urgent need for the entire Christian community to recover an appreciation of the virtue of chastity. ... It is not merely a question of presenting arguments, but of appealing to an integrated, consistent and uplifting vision of human sexuality. The richness of this vision is more sound and appealing than the permissive ideologies exalted in some quarters; these in fact constitute a powerful and destructive form of counter-catechesis for the young. ... Chastity, as the Catechism reminds us, involves an ongoing “apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom”. In a society which increasingly tends to misunderstand and even ridicule this essential dimension of Christian teaching, young people need to be reassured that “if we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing, of what makes life free, beautiful and great”.

    "Let me conclude by recalling that all our efforts in this area are ultimately concerned with the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognising our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfilment. It is my hope that the Church in the United States, however chastened by the events of the past decade, will persevere in its historic mission of educating the young and thus contribute to the consolidation of that sound family life which is the surest guarantee of intergenerational solidarity and the health of society as a whole."