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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 16, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 11
Picket line - Catholic civil war in Minnesota:
Bishops give money to anti-marriage campaign, activists picket cathedral
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Picket line - Catholic civil war in Minnesota:
Bishops give money to anti-marriage campaign, activists picket cathedral

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

More than 100 Catholic activists picketed St. Paul Cathedral on March 11 to protest their archbishop's support for a proposed amendment to Minnesota's constitution that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

They have promised to come back every Sunday through Lent.

'It's an attempt by Catholic people to stand up and say no to the priority the archbishop has set in spending last fiscal year, 2011, $650,000 of the diocese's money to promote passage in November of the marriage amendment,' Ed Flahavan, a former priest, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

'It comes at a time when social agencies, including Catholic charities, are hurting for adequate resources to feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless.'

The Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul, John C. Nienstedt, has strongly supported the move to ban same-sex marriages in the state.

In January, Nienstedt gave priests in his state a 'put up or shut up' ultimatum - support the amendment or keep silent.

'It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead,' he said at the time.

'The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction, propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all - on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly.'

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the archdiocese's lobbying wing, is a member of the Minnesota for Marriage Coalition, the largest group working to pass the amendment. The conference has already contributed some $750,000 to the amendment campaign.

The archdiocese has also denounced Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota, a Catholic pro-equality group, and told Catholics not to associate with them.

The group 'seeks to confuse Catholics and the public about authentic church teaching related to matters of marriage and sexuality,' the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a public statement.

'The Archdiocese asks that Catholics avoid associating themselves with this group, and not be deceived by its messages, which are in conflict with the fundamental teachings of the church,' the statement said.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the group 'does not speak for the Catholic Church' and has 'no authority' to determine what does and does not constitute Christian doctrine and morality.'

Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota launched a series of video presentations of Catholics supporting marriage equality at the Minneapolis Review Theater in response to an anti-equality DVD circulated by the archdiocese.

Archbishop Nienstedt recently led the U.S. bishops' delegation to the Vatican, where they were treated to a speech by Pope Benedict XVI reiterating his stand against same-sex marriage.

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