Minnesota Bishops on Gay Marriage


DVD: “Marriage is reaffirmed each time a man and woman choose to make each other husband and wife…”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent: Just weeks before upcoming statewide elections, Minnesota’s Catholic bishops, spearheaded by John Nienstedt of Minneapolis-St Paul, sent this DVD to every Catholic household in the state—400,000 in all at a cost of one million dollars, funded by an anonymous donation.

DVD: “At best, so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ is an untested social experiment, and at worst, it poses a dangerous risk with potentially far-reaching consequences.”

DE SAM LAZARO: Critics of Archbishop Nienstedt take issue with many of his assertions in the DVD, but they also question the timing of the DVD campaign, coming as it does just prior to the elections.

post01-minnesotaMARY LYNN MURPHY (Catholic Rainbow Parents): He is playing partisan politics from a tax-exempt pulpit. That is what he is doing. He skirts that issue because he doesn’t name a specific candidate, but he is in fact lobbying, right now. This is the time for the election. We all know that. He knows that. I think that’s very inappropriate, and he’s manipulating his flock in doing that.

DE SAM LAZARO: Of the three major party candidates for governor, only one—Republican Tom Emmer—supports an amendment to the state constitution that Nienstedt wants that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. While insisting that he isn’t endorsing Emmer, the archbishop made his preference clear.

DVD: “Marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and to protect this truth, it is time in Minnesota to let the people speak.”

DE SAM LAZARO: Would it have been more prudent or less controversial to have a longer conversation about this without the election looming to complicate matters?

REV. DAVID MCCAULEY (Minnesota Catholic Conference): I don’t know that we can answer that question.

DE SAM LAZARO: Father David McCauley of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops, says as religious leaders they have a responsibility to speak out on timely moral issues of the day.

post02-minnesotaMCCAULEY: Thirty-one states have addressed the topic of gay marriage, and there can be no denial that it has become very much a topic of conversation in both national and state conversation, and I can see why they would want to make Catholic people aware of Catholic teaching at this time and culture.

DE SAM LAZARO: So far some 2500 people turned their DVDs in to a group that promised to bring them back to the bishop. Another 1000 were returned to sender directly and hundreds to a local artist creating a sculpture with them. Among the most vigorous opponents are Michael Bayly with a group representing Catholics from sexual minorities and Mary Lynn Murphy with a group called Catholics Rainbow Parents.

MURPHY: In those DVDs he says straight out that our children are second-class citizens—the parents of gay children—our kids are second-class citizens and don’t deserve the rights that other American have.

MICHAEL BAYLY: Now some would say that, oh, if they were speaking out on immigration reform or civil rights wouldn’t you think that that would be an appropriate thing for them to do, and of course I would. But the difference I see is that in all of those cases, the efforts to speak out, the end result is to broaden the circle, to expand the circle, and to include others in, whereas in this case, with the anti-gay marriage campaign, they’re seeking to exclude a huge part of the population, not just Catholics.

post03-minnesotaDVD: “The Church’s teaching on marriage is not a condemnation of homosexual persons as human beings. It is simply a reflection not only of the scriptures, but of the unique, procreative nature of the male-female bond.”

MCCAULEY: The teachings of the church regarding sexuality are the same for heterosexual people as they are for gay people. The church has always stated that the genital expression of sexuality is limited to those who are married, who have entered into that solemn covenant with one another to be faithful and to be supportive of one another and are open to share in God’s work of creation and that those things are not possible in a gay marriage.

DE SAM LAZARO: Nienstedt has long been outspoken on the issue of gay marriage, often battling in public with gay activists like Bayly. But Bayly says that debate has widened.

BAYLY: It’s no longer the usual suspects who are, you know, talking about this. It’s the rank-and-file Catholics, and they’re doing it, you know, by the hundreds and perhaps by the thousands within this archdiocese.

DE SAM LAZARO: One of those Catholics is Father Michael Tegeder, who ministers to a suburban Twin Cities parish. In a public letter he took issue with the archbishop’s contention that gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage. He says the real threat to marriage is poverty.

post04-minnesotaREV. MICHAEL TEGEDER: The political candidates don’t need that kind of issue out there when we’re faced with other real significant issues that they can do something about. The constitutional amendments are very unrealistic. It’s not going to happen.

DE SAM LAZARO: He says the response from parishioners and others has been overwhelmingly positive, even from some unlikely places.

TEGEDER: They’re coming from such hotbeds of radicalism like Ramsey, Minnesota; Montgomery, Minnesota; Hastings, Minnesota.

DE SAM LAZARO: Surveys show that Catholics are almost evenly divided on gay marriage, although a clear majority now favors civil unions.

TEGEDER: I have a responsibility to my parishioners to speak, you know, for their concerns. So often in these cases if I don’t say something, I hear from my parishioners saying you are the pastor. You are the priest. You are to speak for us.

DE SAM LAZARO: Tegeder has not been reprimanded by the archbishop, but Nienstedt turned down Tegeder’s request that he meet with concerned Catholics.

TEGEDER: We have a lot of people who are in same-sex relationships in our communities, our Catholic communities, and the DVD campaign was very hurtful to them and to their families and friends and to many other Catholics.

DE SAM LAZARO: In an editorial, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said, “The church’s tax-exempt status could be threatened if it directly endorsed candidates. But instead it’s endorsing a policy outcome that’s entirely consistent with its theology in the same way Catholics have campaigned for decades to outlaw abortion.” But even though it’s generated controversy, most political analysts say the DVD campaign won’t have much impact on the election outcome. Most voters seem far more concerned about the economy.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in St. Paul.

  • Jeff

    The church lost its moral authority a long time ago. In the history of the world no organization has done more damage and cost the lives of more people than this church. From the crusades to the inquisition to witch trials to turning a blind eye to Hitler to the most recent child abuse scandals, they have murdered, maimed and abused millions.

    I doubt that in 1000 years gay marriage could do the same sort of damage that this institution has.

  • Janice Schattman

    How many young people have to kill themselves in despair, how many hate crimes have to be committed against men and women even suspected of being gay, how many have to be persecuted and even executed in primitive African countries before these insulated old men realize what they are doing? I hope not as long as recognizing the fallacy of their response to clerical crimes against children. Ordinary Catholics would extend sexual minorities the holiness of an honorable alternative to blighted, promiscuous lives in the name of Christ the Redeemer. Eventually, the hierarchy may find themselves with a flock that sees them as silly, cruel and irrelevant.

  • Rev. Ray Dubuque

    Would the Roman Catholic hierarchy be now promoting contempt for gays in THIS century, if they had been forced to confess the 16 centuries long campaign of contempt for JEWS which paved the way for the JEWISH HOLOCAUST in the last century?
    I don’t think so. As I show at my web sites, the Catholic Church, to which I devoted the first half of my life, including ordination to the priesthood) didn’t simply play an extremely shameful road not only in the attempted extermination of the Jews of Europe. No; for anyone who believes as Catholics do in heaven and hell, their church’s cowardly negligence was responsible for the eternal condemnation of millions of its flock who were allowed, if not actually urged, to follow their Nazi leaders orders to commit mortal sin on a monstrous scale. Anyone who doesn’t want to take it from ME, an ex-Catholic, might be more inclined to take it from the “blessed”
    Franz Jaggerstater, whom the church is now thinking of canonizing for being willing to be decapitated rather than follow the advice of the Catholic hierarchy to “go along to get along”.

  • Paul Onken

    So whats the Church supposed to do? The Catholic Church teaches there are five non-negotiables.Abortion,Euthanasia,Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research,Human Cloning,and so called Gay or Same Sex Marriage.So for the Bishop to clairify the Churchs standing on these issues ,is exactly what his role as shepard of his flock IS ,it is to teach and proclaim what the Cathoilc Church teaches and believes.

  • E.Patrick Mosman

    If Catholics are evenly divided on gay marriage it is because the Catholic Bishops in the USA have not used the pulpit to teach the faithful the Catholic Church’s belief that marriage is between a man and a women, period, no ifs, ands or buts. The efforts by pro-gay marriage advocates to silence the Bishops and clergy who speak out on the issue is a typical liberal attack on those who speak out and uphold Catholic teaching.
    With regard to tax exempt status why are threats lobbed only against the Catholic Church when democratic candidates appear in non-Catholic churches across the country while ministers and preachers openly support democratic candidates and social policies.? A double standard ?

  • Rainbow SashMovement

    Rainbow Sash Movement To Enter Cathedral of St. Paul on Halloween

    The Rainbow Sash Movement is calling on its members and supporter to wear the Rainbow Sash at Archbishops Neinstedt Catholic Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul/Minneapolis during the noon Mass on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. We are calling for a prayerful and respectful presence at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

    This is in response to Archbishop Neinstedt infuriated many Catholics statewide by distributing a DVD to more than 400,000 of Minnesota Catholics in defense of traditional marriage. In the DVD, entitled “Preserving Marriage in Minnesota,” Neinstedt said, “At best so-called same-sex marriage is an untested social experiment, and at worst it poses a dangerous risk with potentially far-reaching consequences.”

    Recently Neinstedt also took the unusual step of denying communion to college students wearing rainbow-colored ribbons during a Mass he said at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University, a Catholic liberal arts school located 70 miles from Minneapolis.

    Our presence at the Cathedral will be attempt to engage in visible dialogue with Archbishop Niestedt. The Rainbow Sash is worn as a symbol of self-identification. It is usually worn on Pentecost Sunday, but given the current situation in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis the Board of Directors of the Rainbow Sash Movement have voted to allow this unusual step by local members and supporters to enter the Cathedral wearing the Rainbow Sash.

    Spokes Person

    Joe Murray
    National Spokes Person
    Rainbow Sash Movement
    Email: JMurray@RainbowSashMovement.com

  • Frank Sweeney

    I applaud the bishop for teaching the faithful but where was the bishop when priest needed to be taught about stealing the lives of children, enough said.

  • David Tucci

    Gee…A 6:51 piece on an issue with 1:45 of commentary in support of the Archbishop’s message and over 5:00 from people opposed….Hmmmmm…sounds like unbiased jounalism to me. I can’t believe you couldn’t find some rank and file Catholics that believe in the Church’s position, only 2 against…

  • Kenneth Sutton

    I just have to wonder if spending a million dollars on this is the most ethical use of the money.

  • Clarke

    How sad that the $1 million dollars wasn’t spent by the Archbishop on stocking food pantries for the poor and helping the unemployed and the homeless. The Church needs to return to its roots, instead of trying to play politics.

  • David

    I very much am in line with the views stated. I would like a copy of the DVD showing the views of the Catholic church’s views. How do I get one?

  • H. (Bart) Vincelette

    The diatribes against same-sex marriage are absurd, but perhaps even more so from clergy in a state adjacent to Canada, which has legalized SSM for five years with no negative impact. Their opposition completely ignores reality, & feeds the mindset of damaged self esteem & suicides, as well as violence & bloodshed. If society were administered according to the Bible, we would be living as if over a 1000 years ago, without scientific & medical advancements. There’s only one verse in the Bible that is absolute truth, & verifiable. It says “Remember man that thou art dust, & unto dust thou shall return.”

  • Ellen Chmiel

    I support gay marriage because homosexuality is not now, nor ever was, a choice. Two women I know were distraught when they realized their orientation. If gays are happy over being gay, it is surely sour grapes. If it can’t be changed, get used to it.
    Heteros find their sexual practices repugnant, but gays find hetero sex equally repugnant. The sexual aspect is just one issue in gay marriage. Above all, it is emotional intimacy that matters.
    Check out homosexuality among non-humans. A good study is the one on albatrosses. About 450 nonhuman groups have homosexual relationships. God must think highly of them since there are so many of them.
    I cannot see how gay marriage will impair hetero marriage though I have much considered the bishops’ assertions.

  • Channah

    How can anyone honestly believe that gay marriage is going to hurt man/woman marriages? It does not interfer with it at all.

    Also, many countries have marriages sanctioned by the state and then if couples want a religious ceremony they can have that also. Marriage should not be a religious issue–but a state issue. Even in Monoco, when Prince Albert marries later on, it will be a state issued marriage. They will have a religious ceremony afterwards, simply because theyw ant it….not because they have to have it. The church should have no say in who can get married.

  • Casey Archer

    ” The church has always stated that the genital expression of sexuality is limited to those who are married, who have entered into that solemn covenant with one another to be faithful and to be supportive of one another and are open to share in God’s work of creation and that those things are not possible in a gay marriage.”

    In order to be consistent, my husband and I shouldn’t be allowed to be married because neither of us can “create” any more. Married homosexual couples would be no different than we are, so why should they be denied marriage? Let me be clear, however, that the church has the right reject a petition for marriage from any couple if they so choose. The church’s stand is religious in nature, therefore, shouldn’t they keep their opinions within their organization and not work to block secular marriage for homosexuals?

  • Ron Faust

    I was so disappointed by the tenor of the piece regarding Archbishop Nienstedt’s teaching on Christian Marriage. No lay Catholic in the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, who support the Archbishop were interviewed OR ACKNOWLEDGED. There are MANY Catholics in this Archdiocese who support Archbishop Nienstedt. The Catholic Archdiocese is going through a difficult time. The Archbishop is mentoring his flock without regards to any particular candidate. The show did not point out that gay activists tried to receive communion while wearing rainbow colored sashes making a political statement against the Archbishop. This Archdiocese has recently announced the closing in near future of 21 parishes. The money to produce this DVD has been made an issue since the parish closings were announced. The Knights of Columbus provided the funding for the Archbishop to present the teaching of the church. If the local Archbishop is the center of a story for providing the teaching of the church, then this country does have problems.


    Since the 1960’s gay and lesbian couples have been struggling for acceptance and recognition, resulting in a hodgepodge of state laws regarding same sex unions. This dilemma can be solved by treating all couples aspiring to wed the same way–but not as currently proposed. In the United States, couples intending to wed go to the local authority and get a license to marry. This is not a marriage. The local magistrate can perform that service, but more commonly, the ceremony is performed by the couple’s clergy who are authorized by the state to sign the marriage certificate, attesting to the contract.
    The solution is for states to dispense with licenses, revoke clergy authorizations, and require all couples, gay and straight, who desire to wed to make application for and undertake a civil union witnessed by the local magistrate. In one stroke, this would remove the dispute over marriage from the political arena. As in many European countries, if a religious wedding is desired, the couple will have to take it up with their pastor or, in the case of the gay couple, find a clergy who is disposed to perform the ceremony.

  • freedml

    When will you (and the rest of the media) get it right? The issue is Same Sex marriage, not ‘Gay’ marriage. For centuries, Gay Men and Gay Women married a member of the opposite sex and had children, and may still do so today.

    And, a reporting faux pax. The Bishop did not say that ‘Gay Marriage’ threatens ‘Traditional Marriage’ (at least not in the clips you showed). He said “It poses a dangerous risk with potentially far-reaching consequences.” If he really said what you said he said, you should have shown us the the clip of him saying it!

  • Nancy D.

    The Catholic Church recognizes that homosexuality refers to a a disordered sexual inclination, not a disordered person. It is out of Love and respect for the Dignity of all persons, who, regardless of race or ethnicity, have been created equal as persons while being complementary as male and female, that The Catholic Church teaches we must never condone homosexual sexual acts or any sexual act that demeans the inherent Dignity of the human person. One cannot be in a committed relationship grounded in authentic Love if one is engaging in demeaning sexual acts within that relationship. Developing healthy relationships requires the ability to be able to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, including appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior. As the mother of a daughter who struggles with a homosexual inclination that was greatly influenced by a date rape in college, I know my child suffers from a developmental problem. I assure you that it is because I Love my daughter, as I Love all my children, that I will never condone her engaging in demeaning sexual behavior because it is spiritually, emotionally, and physically destructive. To claim that all sexual acts and sexual relationships are equal, is a lie, from the start. Let us Pray that all those who struggle with a homosexual inclination will be able to heal their wounds and through our Love and guidance, learn to develop healthy and Holy relationships that are grounded in authentic Love.

  • Heidi

    To Nancy D: How is homosexual sexual acts demeaning? Can you please explain so I can understand your point of view better? Also, can you explain how homosexual love is not authentic? What is authentic love, and why? Why/how is it that same sex sexual behavior is spiritually, emotionally, and physically destructive? Can you please explain and give examples? Thank you.