Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt has penned a verbose letter calling on Catholics to support the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which many priests read to their parishes last week. Nienstedt claims that he opposes discrimination against “brothers and sisters living with same-sex attraction,” yet admits that the entire reason to support the amendment is to keep gays and lesbians from marrying:
First, some ask, “Why is a constitutional amendment necessary?” Well, the fact of the matter is that politicians and activists are working right now in Minnesota to redefine the institution of marriage from one that bonds a man and a woman to any children born from their sexual union into another that licenses the romantic preferences of same-sex adults. [...]
We know that some who are seeking to redefine marriage experience same-sex attractions. Our brothers and sisters living with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God who must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
Every sign of unjust discrimination in this regard must be avoided. People with same-sex attractions, like others in society, are productive citizens, community servants, good friends and our beloved family members.
At the same time, however, it is important to know that the effort to ensure that the definition of marriage remains as between one man and one woman does not take away anyone’s existing rights or legal protections. As Catholics, we believe that all people should be able to visit loved ones in the hospital, pass on their property to whomever they choose, and have access to employment, housing and the basic necessities of life. Saying “yes” to God’s plan for marriage will not change any of this.
Nienstedt’s letter is an exemplar of cultural abuse, simultaneously feigning compassion while advocating discrimination. It may, in fact, have had the opposite effect, as Catholics for Equality reported an uptick in lawn sign requests, with many reporting they walked out of their churches during the letter’s reading. According to the Facebook group, “I am Catholic. I am voting NO!”, many churches did not even read the letter. Nevertheless, the Minnesota Catholic Conference remains one of the largest donors to the amendment campaign, an alliance between the conference, Minnesota Family Council, and National Organization for Marriage.
Washington Bishop Blase Cupich similarly wrote to parishioners earlier this month, urging them to oppose marriage equality so that opposite-sex couples continue to get “special support and recognition.”