The Catholic Church has been a leading force against marriage equality in all four state campaigns, and Archbishop John Nienstedt has been the fact of that opposition in Minnesota. He has repeatedly asked parishioners to vote and pray against marriage equality, arguing that such views “not prejudicial.” Now a letter has surfaced he wrote in 2010 “to a mother who pleaded for acceptance for her gay child,” in which he tells the woman she must reject her son according to Catholic teachings, or she might go to Hell as well:
I write to inform you that the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality,a s described in paragraphs 2357 and 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is rooted in Scripture and based on the Natural Moral Law. It, therefore, shares in God’s revelation to us. Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching. Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
Indeed, some might find this is a hard saying by many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such. I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed in your letter. Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.
Truth Wins Out describes Nienstedt’s ultimatum as “spiritual bullying of the highest order.” The impacts of family rejection include increased risks of suicide and homelessness, yet the Church is forcing people to choose their faith over the lives of their loved ones. Despite claims made by the campaign to support the marriage inequality constitutional amendment, this is not a group of people that cares about the well-being of children.
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has again offered one of his bold responses:
Tell me, Archbishop, Pope, what purpose does the Church serve attempting to influence the affairs of a secular state? The federal benefits under law currently denied gay couples certainly fall under the realm of Caesar, don’t they? No one is forcing the Catholic Church to marry gay couples if that is not the Church’s wish. You can keep the sanctity of Catholic marriage solely between heterosexual couples if you feel that is what’s required (again though, I caution you on the dangers of presumed infallibility). All we are asking is for you to extend the open hand of tolerance instead of the closed fist of fear and hate.
As American citizens, we respect the right for everyone to practice whichever religion they so choose, including the right to not practice one at all. Haven’t we learned enough from the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Talibans of the world? What does it benefit the Church to attempt to influence secular policy in this country, especially when that influence is to deny basic human rights to others? Will you now assume Caesar’s throne, grasping the transitory ephemera of worldly power and control, while forsaking the eternal kingdom of Heaven?