Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . Obamacare stands to cut abortion rates by 75%. And yet, the pro-life movement has been leveraged in opposition to Obamacare, and most especially in opposition to the birth control mandate. They don’t believe women should be guaranteed access to free contraception even though this access is the number one proven best way to decrease the number of abortions. That access would, to use the rhetoric of the pro-life movement, prevent the murders of 900,000 unborn babies every year. [This according to a study just released by Wash U Med School.]

The reality is that so-called pro-life movement is not about saving babies. It’s about regulating sex. That’s why they oppose birth control [and] want to ban abortion even though doing so will simply drive women to have dangerous back alley abortions. . . . It’s not about babies. If it were about babies, they would be making access to birth control widespread and free and creating a comprehensive social safety net so that no woman finds herself with a pregnancy she can’t afford. . . .

– Libby Anne
"How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement
October 29, 2012

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . For years now "the new evangelization" has been lurking about in search of its own identity, more aspirant than actual in its determination to be relevant and "new." The awkwardness that surrounds discussion of the elusive term was captured in a wire service story depicting the setting and content of the [recent 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops]'s opening address, delivered by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington.

The church must reach out to former members, showing them both the relevance of the faith "without losing its rootedness in the great living faith tradition of the church," Wuerl said. He was speaking in Latin to a gathering of celibate male clerics. He lamented that too many Catholics don't know basic prayers and teachings and don't understand why it's important to go to Mass and confession. His solution: reach out to them and teach them the contents of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps that's a plan. But it sounds, instead, as if the analysis and proposed solution are as lifeless and lacking in blood and imagination as the church from which so many are exiting. The new evangelization will remain a stilted and cerebral exercise unless those most invested in its success are willing to take risks.

Too much of what we hear of "the new evangelization" is a one-way proposition. It's saying, "We have the answers, we know what these poor, lost souls need." By rushing in with answers, we may be missing the questions.

The Pew study made clear that the unaffiliated are not angry at organized religion; they just don't want anything more to do with it. Most "nones" believe in God and many call themselves spiritual. At the synod, Filipino Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila noted: "The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God." Is it possible that "nones" can teach us something about God? Or at least can we learn something from listening to their questions? The church's challenge is not to supply answers but to accompany people on their spiritual quests. . . .

– Editorial
National Catholic Reporter
October 27, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Have They No Sense of Decency?

Extremist forces pressure the Catholic Campaign
for Human Development to deny funding to the
Land Stewardship Project because of its connections
to two progressive coalitions. It's a sad story,

says Ed Flahavan, who likens it to the
'guilt by association'-days of McCarthyism.

By Ed Flahavan

Some of us remember that in the early 1950's U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy was riding high in the saddle raising havoc in the nation by making public accusations of widespread Communist infiltration into the administration of President Harry Truman, the U.S. State department, even in the U.S. Army.

Those were toxic, frightening times, fueled by the fear of atheistic Communism and the new media tool, television. He riveted the nation's attention for four long years, using innuendo and guilt by association tactics. Finally one day he was stopped by a simple question from a brave witness on the stand, “Have you no sense of decency, Sir?”

Senator McCarthy's balloon was burst that day. He was shortly thereafter censured by the full U.S. Senate and died a broken man at age 48, less than three years later.

Those “guilt by association” days are back, it seems. Just ask the folks at Land Stewardship Project (LSP), the MN nonprofit that “fosters an ethic of stewardship for farmland, promotes sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities.” All essential goals for a free society.

In July the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) announced a $48,000 grant for a LSP project in SE Minnesota, in the Winona diocese, to promote immigration worker rights, environmental stewardship and leader development. It represented LSP's largest ever grant from CCHD in a proud and amicable funding history that stretched back twenty five years.

The grant was never awarded however. Why? Because LSP declined to drop its membership in the Minnesota Council on Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota after being told to cut its ties with these two groups or forfeit the grant monies. Both progressive membership groups contribute immensely to the efficient operation and effectiveness of LSP. It was not an easy decision to make.

The bishop of Winona, John M. Quinn, was the enforcer of the condition. Why would he do such a thing? His predecessor, Bernard J. Harrington, never did. What is so wrong with these two membership organizations? What's the backstory here?

Enter the American Life League (ALL), a fiercely Catholic, national, self-appointed, anti-abortion watchdog group. Founded in 1979, ALL has expanded its focus and is now particularly proud of its investigations of CCHD grantee groups exposing “many pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-contraception, and Marxist organizations” receiving funding from CCHD. Wow!

LSP's crime? Membership in the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota! Why, you ask? Because both these well respected, progressive groups oppose the Marriage Amendment initiative on November's ballot.

There's the connection, the reason for the squeeze play! It's called guilt by association. Here's ALL's apparent reasoning: “These two groups [MNCNP and TA MN] promote gay marriage. You are fellow travelers. Play by our rules or you don't get your CCHD grant money.” The ALL folks play hard ball; all they need to succeed is a bishop who will fold to their crazy accusations and go along.

It's a very sad story. When CCHD was first created by the Catholic bishops, it earned immediate, enthusiastic support by Catholics in the nation's pews. It was the American Catholic Church's “boots on the ground” social change partnership with self-determination groups to end poverty by empowering its victims. The first national CCHD collection, in November 1969, was the largest in U.S. Catholic Church history.

For over forty years CCHD has funded groups that often challenged the status quo thereby “casting down the mighty from their thrones.” They “raised up the lowly,” empowered victims of poverty, racism and powerlessness. They made us proud to be Catholics promoting human development.

Of course, due diligence means ensuring that all grantee projects are authentic, trustworthy and not working at cross purposes with church teaching. The local bishop has always had the final say at the end of the funding process. In the early years of CCHD, a veto was almost unheard of. But as church leadership moves to the right and Gestapo-like groups grow and become more powerful, more irrational, I suppose we should not be surprised at anything. Saddened? Yes. Surprised? No.

Defeated? - also No. An anonymous donor has come forward with a $25,000 matching challenge grant to replace the denied $48,000. Dig deep if you can in the next six weeks, and mail your check to:

LSP Southeast MN Field Office
180 E. Main St./ Box 139
Lewiston, MN 55952

Your gift will be doubled.

And let us pray with the Psalmist, “How long, Oh Lord? How long?”

Ed Flahavan was St. Paul and Minneapolis Diocesan Director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (1969-77) and a member of CCHD's National Committee (1973-75), serving as its chair in 1975.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Catholic Guilt by Association: How Minnesota Marriage Amendment Politics Hurt Land Stewardship Project - David Brauer (MinnPost, October 24, 2012).
Marriage Fight Costs Environmental Group Catholic Grant - Rose French (Star Tribune, October 27, 2012).
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).

Open Letter to Archbishop Nienstedt – #4

The Progressive Catholic Voice's sharing of your open letters to Archbishop Nienstedt continues with the following letter by Donald R. Conroy. To learn more about this series and how to participate in it, click here.

Dear Archbishop Nienstedt,

I am writing to you as a concerned Catholic. I was ordained a priest in 1955 and am a retired psychologist licensed in the state of Minnesota. I married in the Catholic Church in 1969 and my ordination was not revoked.

I would like to add my voice to the open letter Bishop Chilstrom recently wrote to you. I will restrict my comments only to your classification of homosexuality as an "intrinsic disorder." I realize that this description of same sex preference is not yours alone. The same description is found in Vatican documents and in documents of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Your use of this language speaks to both your reason for describing this human condition as you do, as well as to your commitment to promote the passage of the marriage amendment. If homosexuality were as you say, an intrinsically disordered human condition, then it would follow that society at large should protect its institutions of marriage and family by proclaiming homosexuality an impediment to legal marriage. But, neither the social nor the natural sciences support your "intrinsic disorder" claim about homosexuality. Homosexuality was included in The Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Health Disorders in its first edition in 1952 because of the symptoms experienced by homosexual persons resulting from social stress. However, homosexuality has since been removed from that manual and is no longer considered a diagnosis for treatment. A human characteristic that is not the norm is not necessarily abnormal, but rather can simply be what is not expected. Today we have sufficient empirical evidence to more precisely understand this human characteristic of same sex attraction, but we do not yet have a complete scientific explanation, even though science is pointing us in that direction.

As I see it, the basis for your description of this human trait is Revelation, what God has revealed through the Church and the Christian tradition, not science. I suggest we should be wary of making pronouncements that are not substantiated by the sciences of our time. One of our outstanding biologists, E. O. Wilson, writes in The Social Conquest Of Earth:

The conflict between scientific knowledge and the teaching of organized religions is irreconcilable. The chasm will continue to widen and cause no end of trouble as long as religious leaders go on making unsupportable claims about supernatural causes of reality. [p.295]

I am a Catholic who regularly attends worship, and I continue to study in the areas of theology, religion, and the sciences on a regular basis. There are many of us committed and informed Catholics who are concerned with the direction you have taken. Archbishop Nienstedt, I urge you to have open conversations with your people, all of them.


Donald R. Conroy, PhD

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Open Letter to Archbishop Nienstedt – #3

The Progressive Catholic Voice's sharing of your open letters to Archbishop Nienstedt continues with the following letter by John Buckley. To learn more about this series and how to participate in it, click here.

Dear Archbishop,

After censoring several comments opposing your public advocacy for the passage of the amendment limiting marriage on November 6, 2012, I have been banned from posting to your public forum on TheCatholicSpirit.com for my response to the story entitled “Marching for Mary and Marriage.”

It is inconceivable to me that you would dedicate a Rosary procession petitioning the Blessed Mother for such a destructive purpose. The Holy Mother must be appalled.

My comments were as follows:

• Why do you feel the need to censor my comments? Unlike you, I am trying to reach out and start a dialogue. This is an issue that affects millions of gay children. Gay children who are killing themselves because people like you are taking away their hope for fulfilling their dreams of happiness. You make no mention of the gay families who are directly involved, no reference to how and why they exist with a complete disregard to their individual rights and no reference to the overwhelming amount of biological, psychological and scientific evidence that runs counter to your baseless contention that gay marriage is harmful to society and children.

• Do you really know what is harmful to children? Tell them that they are not members of a legitimate family. That harms them. Do you know what else? Tell them their parents are setting a poor example, not just for them, but for all of society. Do you know what else harms children? How about telling them that they are better off being raised by someone other than the only two people they have ever trusted in their short lives? Oh yeah, and don’t forget to make sure you tell all of their friends, too.

• Do you have any idea what homosexuality is, beyond what you may have heard from the pulpit of your church? Do you even know what gay men and women want from marriage beyond your contempt and or disgust for a group of people who are different from you? Do you know that the homosexual orientation reveals itself at puberty in as many as one in ten children? Do you realize that any of children conceived in the heterosexual union have those very same odds? Are you familiar with any of the numerous biological and scientific studies that identify homosexuality as a naturally occurring, immutable human characteristic and link it to the beginnings of human development in the mother’s womb? Have you ever asked a gay man or woman how they felt about their partner? Do you realize that long-term homosexual relationships have little to do with the physical relationship and just like heterosexual relationships, are everything about the deeply held emotional and psychological bonds that occur between loving couples? These are biological facts supported by countless scientific studies.

• Do you have any idea about the devastating physical and psychological harm your lack of understanding and willingness to ignore the facts about gay marriage has on millions of gay men and women, their parents, children, family and loved ones? If you have any idea, and have even an ounce of compassion, you would rethink your position and let this post stand.

Let me finish with this:

Do you know what absolutely will not harm your children? Telling them that the world is a diverse and wonderful place where everyone should care deeply about their friends and neighbors. Telling them everyone deserves to be loved and respected and that all of us have a right to live our lives in peace, free from fear, and free from the tyranny of a few uneducated and ignorant people who think they know what’s best for everyone. Do you know what else will never harm them? Giving them a solid education in science and biology. Letting them understand the things that are true in the world. Letting them learn the difference between that and what we know is no longer true. Teaching them not to fear knowledge. If you want to teach them to pray the Rosary, teach them to pray for peace and understanding.

– John Buckley

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . The legacy of Vatican II is sharply contested by progressives and traditionalists. Whether you are impatient for the reforms promised by Vatican II to unfold further or whether you would prefer to roll back some of its teachings, you have to tip your hat and recognize the impact of the transformational achievement forged by all those bishops gathered in Rome in the early 1960s. Their work was sparked by the jolly persona of John XXIII, the pope who called the council in order to "let a bit of fresh air in through the stained glass windows."

For centuries, Catholic moral theology had been dominated by a near-obsession with sin and rebuking enemies of the faith. It was far clearer what an embattled church stood against – what was anathema – than what Catholics stood for and what they should yearn for in the moral life. In documents like the 1864 Syllabus of Errors, church authorities issued sweeping condemnations of freethinking ideas that challenged the laws and social norms laid down by popes and bishops. Galileo was far from the only voice silenced by church disciplinary action.

By replacing words like anathema with terms like dialogue, collegiality, communion and participation -- words that evoke dynamic openness rather than static essences – the council fathers thoroughly revived the creative side of Catholic ethics. The seriously constricted moral imagination of the faithful could now move beyond the previous preoccupation with law, sin and culpability and focus more upon moral freedom, the virtues, spiritual discernment, and above all, the role of conscience in the moral life.

One especially striking direction was Vatican II's emphasis on the inner depths of people as they attempt to lead admirable and socially responsible lives. This presumed that in forming and acting upon conscience, people of good will deliberate, consult, change their minds and yearn for relationships that are deeper and ever more fulfilling and faithful. . . .

– Thomas Massaro
"A Moral Theologian Looks Back at Vatican II"
National Catholic Reporter
October 16, 2012

Related Off-site Links:
Vatican II: Gone But Not Forgotten – John Gehring (Star Tribune, October 16, 2012).
Vatican II Opened the Church to the World – John W. O'Malley (New York Times, October 10, 2012).
The Catholic Church's Lost Revolution – James Carroll (Boston Globe, September 30, 2012).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Open Letter to Archbishop Nienstedt – #2

The Progressive Catholic Voice's sharing of your open letters to Archbishop Nienstedt continues with the following letter from Dr. Malcolm Nazareth, co-founding director of the Center for Interfaith Encounter in St. Cloud, MN. To learn more about this series and how to participate in it, click here.

Dear Archbishop,

A member of Christ Church Newman Center, St. Cloud, MN, for well over 12 years, I’m writing to you as a Catholic who is a long-time ally of those who are well known and proud to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ). I believe I’m fully in accord with the mind of Jesus when I take my stand on their side against those who overtly as well as covertly reject LGBTQ sexual orientation and gender identities. My Roman Catholic roots go back to South Asia. There, in the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay, I was born and raised, and it was in the Catholic Dioceses of Pune and Nashik (India) that I first learned and taught theology in reputable theological institutions affiliated with the Gregorian University, Rome.

It grieves me that, on the issue of LGBTQs, you, as official leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, are publicly taking a retrogressive stance. Your unabashed political involvement on the side of uncompassionate conservatives of diverse Christian denominations embarrasses me both as a world citizen and as a Catholic Christian. You have been availing yourself of church resources and platforms to advocate a position pertaining to LGBTQs that is certainly not one of faith and morals. What you are at pains to propagate is a political issue, and my ecclesiastical leader in the Twin Cities is undoubtedly on the wrong side of history on this one. I have been teaching Diversity and Racial Issues courses at St. Cloud State University for a decade, and I cannot tell you how much at variance your anti-LGBTQ stance is, and how out of step with the United Nations declaration on Gay Rights (2011), on one hand, and, on the other, the US government’s repealing of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” also in 2011. I am one of many who believe that you vainly seek to put the clock back in 2012.

I’m aghast at your insistence on being on the wrong side of science, too, thus bringing further disrepute and ignominy today on the religion that carries the name of Jesus of Nazareth who was open minded, large hearted, inclusive, and respectful of human nature, and whose words and deeds manifested his preferential option for the marginalized and powerless. This time my church and its designated leader in Minnesota, contrary to my understanding of Jesus Christ, is naively doing the wrong thing, yet pretending before the wider US society that his position on LGBTQs is not homophobic. In the past, the world leaders of the Catholic Church vehemently supported slavery, and also cocksuredly went against the teachings of reputed astronomers, for example, only to have some more enlightened Catholic leaders who succeeded them centuries later retract their grossly misguided statements and steps. More recently, the same Catholic Church has been stubbornly refusing to open ordination to women on equal footing with men. The Vatican’s persecution of courageous Catholic religious women in the USA is one more indication of how, under Pope Benedict XVI’s leadership, the Church has all but lost its moral compass. Today, in your person, I’m dismayed to see the Catholic Church in Minnesota making another faux pas, this time in the context of what is inappropriately termed “Gay Marriage.” Racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and obscurantism have no place in our world, and much less in any church today. Exactly fifty years ago, the Second Vatican Council pointed Catholics in the direction of aggiornamento. Today, I urge you not to fall backward and retreat from that exhilarating vision of love, liberty, inclusivity, justice, and progress.

May I state immediately that we’re at a historic moment in the history of the State of Minnesota where the civil rights of LGBTQ communities are being radically challenged by heartless people who dare to call themselves Christian. You, too, Sir, are using your privileged capacity as official leader of all Catholic Minnesotans to weigh in on the side of siege-mentality Catholics and others who would prevent LGBTQs from enjoying civil rights equal to those enjoyed by legally married heterosexual couples. In so doing, you are demonstrating that the R. C. Church insensitively acquiesces in the denial of ordinary civil rights to LGBTQs that all married heterosexuals have enjoyed in the eyes of this state since its founding. For all your futile efforts to inscribe heterosexism into the constitution of Minnesota through an amendment that will limit civil marriage, you will go down in the history of the upper Midwest as a Catholic archbishop who used his privilege as a propertied, White, heterosexual Christian male to disempower and oppress a significant minority segment of his fellow citizens. There is still time for you to save face.

Archbishop Nienstedt, you may well be personally convinced of the moral correctness of this discriminatory stance. At the same time, you may well be following the lead of the rich, White, heterosexual male-dominated Vatican which has too often failed to get obvious matters right. Whatever it may be, I feel impelled by my calling as a baptized Catholic to request you to try and sensitize yourself to the real needs of real human beings who are different than those of us naturally endowed with the majoritarian heterosexual orientation. When you advocate that marriage be constitutionally limited to that which is contracted between a man and a woman, you are ipso facto depriving LGBTQs, who are well known to comprise approximately a tenth of the population of any society, of rights that the majority 90% potentially or actually enjoy before the law when they contract marriage. It is discriminatory and oppressive, merely from a civil viewpoint, that a certain group of people, naturally endowed with LGBTQ orientations, should be forbidden to publicly declare their vows to each other and, after that, to be recognized as legitimate partners of a civil union who enjoy legal rights no less and no more than those enjoyed by legally married heterosexual couples.

May I urge you to consider, for example, the wise approach of some Native American societies which view LGBTQs as being blessed with “two spirits” as compared with heterosexuals who are possessed of only “one spirit,” either male or female. From the numberless gay members of the R. C. clergy at all levels of the hierarchy, you well know that LGBTQs are “different.” Indeed, to return to a felicitous phrase used by our Native American heritage in the USA, LGBTQs are “good medicine.” Catholics with an LGBTQ orientation are a blessed gift to the local, regional, as well as international Christifideles. It may well be the backward understanding of Christians of different stripes, especially those who are prone to literalist interpretations of the Bible, that has effectively repressed LGBTQs for close to two millennia. It seems high time that White-dominant Christianity in the USA jettison what remains of its homophobic European heritage and assimilate to the millennia-old wisdom of our Native American sisters and brothers. Their openness to “difference” is far more akin to the spirit of Jesus Christ Our Lord than that of the “Christians” who have vainly tried for 520 years to “save” the now decimated first peoples of North America. I cannot help recalling here the White-originated slogan “Kill the Indian, save the man” which energized many a “Christian” missionary in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is equally unethical for you, Sir, to lead Catholics today to similarly hold, “Kill the LGBTQ, save the man.”

Archbishop Nienstedt, if you happen to be one who is afraid of those who are different, I encourage you, as my official leader, to update your knowledge and expertise with insights about human nature that social scientists have been expounding for decades now, yes, even in the western “civilized” world. Please desist from any backwardness that may be leading you and those whom you guide to take positions riddled with age-old prejudice. I urge you to beware that, by pushing the so-called “marriage amendment,” you may be currently abusing your ecclesiastical power over your constituents in Minnesota much in the manner of a bully. A sensitive, conscientious, and Jesus-motivated stance would bring you down on your knees to wash the feet of LGBTQs and serve their needs as a true pastor worthy of his office. You have been appointed Archbishop to serve the cause of humanity, equality, justice, and human rights in keeping with the Gospel. If you are hesitant to fulfil the church’s mission, it would be better for you to step aside and let the Catholic Church move forward in keeping with the times and recognize the humanity and dignity of all, including especially LGBTQs.

My bottom line: I urge you and those who follow you to consider voting NO to the proposed marriage amendment. Do the right thing. Desist from siding with those who, lacking civic sense, use their religious beliefs to mask their homophobic proclivities. Be another Jesus today. Shed your clerical trappings and conditioning. Be human first. Widen the circle to truly welcome and include LGBTQs into Christian belief and practice without fussing over their sexual orientation any more than they fuss over yours. You have no more say in their option to enter into civil unions than they have to interfere with your decision to take a vow of priestly celibacy. Support them in their life options as you have been supported in yours. Thank you.

I have spoken. I am not alone.

Malcolm Nazareth
Co-founding Director, Center for Interfaith Encounter
St. Cloud, MN

Friday, October 12, 2012

Share Your Open Letter to the Archbishop

Dear Readers:

We invite you to send us your open letters to the Archbishop. We will post them here on the Progressive Catholic Voice.

Did you know that canon law says we are free to make our spiritual needs known to our church leadership? Of course, as free people of God, we don’t need permission, but it is good to have this freedom acknowledged in canon law. Sometimes, canon law says, the faithful have the duty to make their needs known. If your letter does not move the Archbishop, it may move someone else in ways we can’t foretell.

Send your letter to progressivecatholicvoice@gmail.com. Please also consider writing about your concern to the papal nuncio or sending him a copy of your letter. He has said he is willing to hear from us. His name and address: Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20008-3610.

Following is the first of hopefully many open letters to the Archbishop that we'll be sharing at the Progressive Catholic Voice.

– The Editorial Board


October 11, 2012
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
226 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102

Archbishop Nienstedt:

I am in receipt of your letter of October 1, 2012, requesting me to vote Yes to a constitutional amendment limiting civil marriage. It makes me sad that the leader of my beloved church is asking me to betray both my citizenship and my commitment to the Gospel.

I find your stated purpose to keep a definition of civil marriage “safe from politicians, activists, and state court judges” to be a cynically-stated betrayal of U.S. citizenship. Our government is based on principles of freedom and equality constitutive of our nation, i.e. our constitution. Citizens in dialogue (activists) work for laws to be made through their representatives (politicians), whose work is reviewed for fidelity to the principles of freedom and equality by the judiciary (state court judges). A moral people thus evolves through this process toward freedom and justice for all. You are undermining this process on which Catholics have depended for their own freedom and equality in the past and may again in the future.

I call on you, as leader of the Catholic Archdiocese in St. Paul and Minneapolis, to make arguments that appeal to the reason of all our fellow citizens, no matter their religious beliefs or lack of them, in favor of your position on this amendment you have championed if any such arguments are available. You must also openly submit those arguments to the reasoning of opponents. This is the only way to gain respect as a citizen in political discourse. Otherwise you are a religious demagogue, leading your followers to unreasoning conclusions. As a telephone campaigner, I have heard many Catholics following your lead.

Your argument based on the “nature” of marriage does not hold up. We are talking here about civil marriage laws and those laws have defined marriage over the centuries in many nations in any number of ways. What is the necessity for civil marriage laws to limit the status to heterosexual couples who are biologically capable of procreation as a couple? There are numerous unions of same-sex couples with children who desire the status of civil marriage and for whom it would be a benefit. On what argument do you depend to justify denying them equal protection of the law as our constitution already provides?

I’m sure you are aware of Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the dignity of the human person. I look upon the principles of freedom and equality undergirding our form of government as an outgrowth of that Western tradition. When I see people suffering from unjustified, unequal treatment based on their sexual orientation, which is their “nature,” I am moved by my conscience to try to alleviate the unjust situation. I look upon this as the Gospel commitment you are asking me to betray.

I ask you to reconsider your position and to enter into dialogue with the people whose lives will be affected by your political activism.

– Paula Ruddy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . On a range of issues, the influence of the bishops over Catholics in America has been diminishing. According to a series of reports published by the National Catholic Reporter, Catholics have decided to follow their own consciences when deciding about moral issues. In 1987, about a third of Catholics said that church leaders should have the final say on what is right or wrong when it comes to abortion, premarital sex and homosexuality. By 2011, this percentage had dropped to just around 2 in 10 Catholics. The percentage of Catholics who say church leaders should have the final say on contraception has consistently hovered around just 10 percent. The percentage of Catholics who follow the bishops' ban on contraception is arguably much smaller even than that.

. . . The preponderance of evidence is that Catholics do not follow the wishes or dictates of their bishops when it comes to their own personal lives or the ballot box. Despite the millions of dollars spent by the bishops, the call to arms for Catholics to defend the bishops' skewed concept of religious freedom is not a hot topic in this election. On November 6, 2012, Catholics will represent about 27 percent of the electorate. The active U.S. bishops are worth about 270 votes. The 35 million other Catholic voters in the U.S. will follow our consciences as we have always done and vote accordingly.

– Jon O'Brien
"Polling Shows That Bishops' Campaign Has Failed
Huffington Post
September 28, 2012