We’ve got a marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota this fall and it seems Archbishop John Nienstedt is weighing in on the debate:
Working aggressively behind the scenes, the 65-year-old Nienstedt has emerged as a key financial and political force for passage of the marriage amendment, which will be on the Nov. 6 ballot and is the most contentious issue in the state this election season.
He has committed more than $650,000 in church money, stitched together a coalition of leaders from other faiths and exerted all his power within the church to press Minnesota’s million-plus Catholics to back him.
“We wouldn’t have gotten very far without him,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group pushing the amendment. “What the archbishop is doing in Minnesota is what the pope asked him to do. It’s hard to overstate his importance.”
Sadly, discussion of this issue is not allowed.
To clergy, he issued orders that no “open dissension” would be allowed. He wrote one outspoken priest, the Rev. Mike Tegeder, that if he persisted, “I will … remove you from your ministerial assignments.”
“He silenced his priests under the order of obedience,” said Ed Flahavan, a member of Former Priests for Marriage Equality, a group that went public in May with the names of 80 former Minnesota Catholic priests against the amendment. “It’s the first time in my experience or knowledge that kind of blanket order has been given” in this archdiocese.
It’s discouraging when religious institutions don’t allow open discussion on important issues. Although questions are often difficult, they almost always bring important information to light.