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Archbishop Nienstedt's latest marriage-amendment letter adds to Catholic turmoil

archbishop john c nienstedt
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

On Sunday, priests in a number of Twin Cities Roman Catholic parishes read a letter from Archbishop John Nienstedt re-stating the church’s support for the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

On Monday, Michael Bayly, the director of Catholics for Marriage Equality, noticed a spike in requests for the group’s lawn signs, which read, “Another Catholic Voting No.”

Some of the people who stopped by his south Minneapolis office to pick them up told him people had walked out of their churches during the reading. A parishioner at the nearby Church of the Annunciation said half a dozen left her service.

On Thursday, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’s official publication, the Catholic Spirit, carried the text of the letter.

Meanwhile, the Facebook site “I am Catholic. I am Voting NO!” acquired a list of parishes where the letter was not read. The most prominent of the 17 churches listed: Minneapolis’ Basilica of St. Mary.

In the letter, Nienstedt asserts that the purpose of the ballot initiative has been misconstrued. “Our effort to support God’s unchanging plan for marriage is not a campaign against anyone, but rather a positive effort to promote the truth about marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” he writes.

“But the reality is that marriage is not ours to redefine, just as another human life is not ours to take,” the archbishop continues. “God is both the author of life and the author of marriage. It is this most fundamental understanding of the natural order that animates who we are as Catholics. ... It is also why we fight to defend God’s plan for marriage, because his providence is as clear for what marriage is as it is for the dignity of each human life. ...

“Now, Minnesota for Marriage needs your help to get the message out. We must ensure that Minnesotans know what is at stake and have the correct information about why they should vote ‘Yes’ for the marriage amendment. (Remember that if you leave the ballot box blank, the government votes ‘No’ for you!).”

The Archdiocese did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Bayly hears something different. “He seems to have softened his language about gay people,” he said, referring to Nienstedt. “They must have realized they’ve alienated people.”

“We know that some who are seeking to redefine marriage experience same-sex attractions,” the letter reads. “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.”

In recent months, Catholics who either plainly disagree with the church’s stance on marriage rights for gays and lesbians or who are wrestling with their consciences have been increasingly visible. The conflicted parishioners have organized everything from informational meetings in borrowed, non-Catholic churches to vigils outside the Chancery.

Many were offended by Nienstedt’s decision to take a very active role in the campaign for the amendment. To date, Minnesota Catholic churches and groups have given $1 million to the vote-yes effort.

Others have been unhappy with statements that put their love for their church in opposition to their love for LGBT relatives and friends. One example: A letter Nienstedt penned for the Catholic Spirit soon after his 2007 ascension in which he warned that those "who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts ... formally cooperate in a grave evil, and ... are guilty of mortal sin."

Still others were upset that in the run-up to the 2010 gubernatorial contest, Nienstedt distributed 400,000 DVDs, paid for by an anonymous donor and by the Knights of Columbus, urging Catholics to vote for the only candidate in the race opposed to same-sex marriage, Tom Emmer.

“That language and that approach has clearly been ditched,” said Bayly. Still, he added, “The fact that they can’t bring themselves to talk about gay people or lesbian people is offensive.”

The divide has put the church in the headlines numerous times in recent months. In late July, newspapers reported that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, himself the topic of amendment-related news stories, had been invited to speak at St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis. Later stories reported that he was subsequently uninvited and then that his appearance had been postponed.

At the same time, some members of a group of 102 former priests that signed on to a statement opposing the amendment have disagreed publicly with the church’s depiction of its teachings.  

“That conscience must rule is consistent with what all of us former priests learned in seminary,” Ed Kohler wrote in a letter published earlier this month in the Pioneer Press. “That conscience must rule is also consistent with the current Pope Benedict XVI — who taught, while still Father Joseph Ratzinger, that ‘Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirements of ecclesiastical authority.’"

One active priest, Bob Pierson, told some 200 Catholics at an event in Edina that they can vote against a proposal to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban gay marriage. Bayly and several other members of Catholics for Marriage Equality say they have been told the Archdiocese has ordered Pierson to stay silent on the issue from now on.

“There are groups of Catholics who are hungry for alternative perspectives on this,” Bayly said. “I’ve got a pretty well-full September of speaking engagements around the state.”

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Comments (42)

Here's the thing

If the Nienstedt were explaining why the Catholic church doesn't recognize same sex marriages on as a matter of theology, there'd be no problem. The problem is he's trying make Catholic theology part of our Constitution. So the US has gone from barring Catholics from public office to putting writing their theology into law... interesting.

Or at least

he's trying to give words used in the Constitution a Catholic theological definition.
OF course, the Constitution doesn't say anything about marriage -- it leaves that sort of thing to the states.

The State

The State has a Constitution as well and that is the heart of the matter. Bill of Rights, Section 16 of the State Constitution reads...

"Sec. 16. Freedom of conscience; no preference to be given to any religious establishment or mode of worship. The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any religious or ecclesiastical ministry, against his consent; nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state, nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious societies or religious or theological seminaries."

The State Supreme Court interpretation of this includes the following...

"Under the establishment clause, the state may not treat one religion more favorably than
others so as to make it appear that the government is supporting that religion as the
state-approved religion. The clause has also been interpreted to forbid government from aiding
religion in general over non-religion."

I've talked to several lawyers on this topic, and all of them, regardless of political opinions, have said that this amendment should be illegal and that the current law regarding this topic should also be illegal. It is silly to think that we can tell people they cannot marry each other because they are the same sex.

An amendment to the Constitution

does not violate the Constitution, it modifies it. If this proposal passes, the MN Supreme Court will have to figure out how to reconcile the two.

No difference

"he's trying to give words used in the Constitution a Catholic theological definition."

Paul B., this is distinction in search of a difference. By re-defining the constitution as a Catholic document he's converting it into a Catholic document i.e. making his religious beliefs law just because they are his religious beliefs.

Nienstedt Argues for a Theological Answer to Secular Question

"If the Nienstedt were explaining why the Catholic church doesn't recognize same sex marriages on as a matter of theology, there'd be no problem."

This, this, one thousand times, this. Catholics have their own beliefs and practices regarding marriage, and whether this amendment passes or not, the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage will be *unchanged.*

Secular marriage vs the sacrament of marriage

Great point, Mr. Welter. Let's hope the folks who understand your point prevail in November.

Bishop makes no civil-religious distinction

What I find so disappointing about the quotes from the Archbishop's letter is that he appears to totally ignore that the amendment vote is about civil marriage and not at all about religious marriage.

Nienstedt makes a strong and appropriate case for why Catholics will not be performing or recognizing same-sex marriages in their churches and Catholic community. But there is no acknowledgement that civil society is distinct and different than Catholicism.

I cannot see why two spheres that have co-existed and been core to our American culture for 235+ years cannot continue to do so: One in which civil rights are extended through civil law, and another in which religious practice both honors, and is protected by, the Consitution's separation of church and state.

What Bishop Nienstedt says about Catholic marriage can absolutely continue to be true for Catholics after Nov. 6th, even if Minnesotan's vote no on the amendment. And since rejecting the amendment wouldn't repeal our state's prohibition of same-sex marriage, that is a core fact.

But even if the vote is no, and a court case or new legislation later opens up civil same-sex marriage, in no way does that change Catholic teaching or practice. It simply does not. No priest or Catholic church would ever be forced to perform or recognize a same-sex marriage.

I am very concerned that Nienstedt's reasonable concern to defend Catholic values for Catholics has stepped over a line into telling non-Catholics that they too must adhere to Catholic values while living in civil society. As a Unitarian Universalist, that lack of pluralism and lack of respect for civic choices that differ, that our American society based on liberty should allow, well that upsets me.

I appreciate that Nienstedt may want to save me from Hell for believing in same-sex marriage. That's very kind of him to worry for my soul. But he's not may pastor, Catholicism is not my path. In a freedom loving country, we're able to make choices with the assistance of faith (or without...), but not at the dictates of it.

Catholic Marriage Is For Catholics

I could not agree more with Mr Wyman's post. Bishop Nienstedt is reiterating Catholic beliefs about marriage. These beliefs serve his faith and his church, and society recognizes and respects them. But these beliefs and practices should not be enshrined in Minnesota's constitution.

Nicely said

Ralf, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Not Quite This Simple

Roman Catholic teaching on marriage is not quite this simple. The Catholic Church always recognized that marriage was not invented by Christians and has always recognized marriages outside the Catholic Church as valid--although perhaps not sacramental. Defeat of the proposed amendment on marriage would have no direct effect on the Church's definition of a sacramental marriage, but the Church does have a huge stake in the civil definition because it is obligated to respect all valid marriages.

Obligated by whom?

If the Catholic Church feels it is "obligated to respect all valid marriages," that is their rule. It can be changed or interpreted by them at will. It is no reason to impose their definition of "validity" on the rest of us.

No Reason to Impose, but a Clear Reason to Care

Certainly true, the Catholic Church has no right--or ability--to impose its views on all citizens in the state. The church does, however, have a real reason to care about how the issue is decided because the church is bound to honor valid marriages as they are defined by other faiths and by civil authorities.

Frank Schweigert

For Those of Us Who Believe that the Holy Spirit

is the vehicle through which God is immediately and constantly present and active in human society,...

gently, and in easily-ignored ways, whispering into our thoughts, shaping our internal visual images, nudging our hearts, bubbling new awareness up from deep within us,...

and who believe that what most people describe as "conscience" is a product of that interaction between the Holy Spirit and our own spirits,...

and when the church and church leaders, by contrast, make their own human and therefore, always imperfect ideas, ideals, theological viewpoints and dogmatic pronouncements out to be the ultimate authority for the lives of their members,...

and, thereby, seek to force those members to ignore their own "consciences," such churches and church leaders make themselves out to be enemies of the God they claim to serve and worship.

The church, if it is to perform service to God, must educate it's members about its scriptures and traditions but then it must always point beyond itself and its imperfect understanding of those things to the God who, through the Holy Spirit, relates directly to each member, guiding them to do what's needed for each day, each hour, each minute.

When any denomination, any church, any religious leader, demands fealty to itself or themselves, even among churches which claim belief in the Holy Spirit while vetoing many if not most of the inspirations of conscience being experienced by members, especially when those inspirations clearly reflect the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus, himself,...

it/they blaspheme the Holy Spirit by giving their members who are most earnestly seeking to be faithful to God in their day-to-day lives no choice but to leave that group.

When we who are part of human-created religious institutions fail to realize that our institutions often come to reflect our human doubts and fears above all else,...

and when we seek to bolster our sense of security and defend ourselves from such awareness by pridefully and stubbornly proclaiming the primacy of our own current understandings of our scriptures and traditions, rather than pointing our members beyond ourselves and those things to the God who remains present and active in the world at every moment,...

we increasingly relegate ourselves to irrelevancy and sow the seeds of our own demise.

Correction

The Constitution at question here is that of the State of Minnesota, not the United States.
Still, regulating marriage is more appropriately placed in legislation (which already exists) than in the Constitution.

No argument

Paul, the reference to the constitution above IS the state constitution.

South of the River folks and Catholics offer their view

Beth, the genesis of this blog is a group of Catholic parishioners south of the river, but, as you can see, our group has quickly gone ecumenical: www.southoftherivervotesno.tumblr.com

We are seeking to respectfully offer voters and Catholics our view -- we have come to stand against the marriage amendment. This blog also has a link to a moving 6-minute video, made by city-wide Catholics, which has gotten more than 17,000 hits in the two weeks it has been out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wLQ63LMC-A&feature=player_embedded.

The blog also offers, near the bottom of the page, theological resources for Catholics, including one of the best theological expositions we've seen by a Marquette University professor and theologian.

We find that most Catholics are open to hearing our view -- in fact, our sense is that they appreciate having the opportunity, in various ways, to develop a well-rounded view.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this with other who may have an interest.

the church as a tax exempt institution

Surely a vote to amend our state constitution is a political act and discussion about the vote is political speech. I indulge in much political speech and action and pay taxes for the privilege. I do not understand how an institution whose state hierarchy involves itself so deeply in state politics can retain its tax exempt status.

Another Catholic Voting No

You can put me in that group, another Catholic voting no. I fail to see how the Catholic Church can take a stand on this legislation when they completely ignore and cover up child sex abuse. Until the Catholic Church can clean up there own sins, I don't think Nienstedt or any of his ilk have any right to talk about any law.

Another "Catholic" Voting No

"Until the Catholic Church can clean up there [sic] own sins, I don't think Nienstedt or any of his ilk have any right to talk about any law."

If you're Catholic as opposed to "Catholic" Ken, it's "until the church can clean up OUR own sins", and *we* are Nienstedt's ilk.

I think we know where you're coming from....

Red robes

No one gets to be Nienstedt's ilk until they get to wear the same fancy red robes. Or at least turn a blind eye to child molestation.

Shakespeare said it best...

To paraphrase the Bard in Hamlet: "Me thinks the Archbishop protests too loudly."

The Archdiocese did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Probably because they have made their position clear regarding Michael Bayly...

Excerpt from Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis statement on status of Bayly's apostate group "Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities" CPCSM:

"Recent communications by the group called the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) have erroneously portrayed its past and current status as it relates to the Roman Catholic Church in general and to this archdiocese in particular.

These communications are a matter of concern to us and require that the archdiocese clearly state that it does not support, or recognize in any way, CPCSM as a Catholic organization. Nor does the archdiocese endorse CPCSM’s recent efforts to promote an advocacy agenda contrary to that of this archdiocese and to the Catholic Church.

Because of their disregard for church tradition and magisterium, Archbishop Flynn did not support nor did he recognize this group.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, in harmony with his predecessor and other U.S. bishops, does not support, endorse or recognize CPCSM. Because the group’s stated agenda is to deny the church’s traditional moral teachings and creates confusion among the faithful, the archdiocese believes strongly that it must reassert its opposition to CPCSM."

One wonders if Beth couldn't have found a more appropriate source to represent the sand-is-food position.

It is traditional in the news business, Mr. Swift,

to contact the main actors in a piece for comment. If this is not done, someone like you will complain about the lack of input from both "sides."

Your continued use of the nonsense phrase "sand is food" really does not help your arguments.

I'm encouraged, Bill

You've noticed that "sand is food" is a nonsense phrase.

The next step on your quest for enlightenment will be to tie the nonsense of the issue at hand to the statement. Then you'll understand why it not only helps my argument, it provides a concrete basis for it.

vote no

tax the church if it presumes to dictate political support from the altar.

Political positioning speaks louder than "softened" rhetoric

I had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with Archbishop Nienstedt last December.

We talked about the concern of polarizing politics and Corporate corruption. I asked him how faith leaders could show leadership to stop the forces that undermine common-good values. In short: how they could be a positive force in this negative environment.

His answer was confident and concise: "We need to have less division between Church and State."

After I gulped, I pointed out that religions getting into politics is one of the primary reasons for the divisions. And, I asked him how it this could be squared with incongruences like the fact that the Catholic Church sees itself as a sovereign state, above the common law. I noted that this has been it's position in priest sex abuse cases. Shortly thereafter he politely but abruptly ended our conversation.

Only later did I learn that he worked in the political office for the Vatican, before he came to Minnesota.

While it may appear that Archbishop is "softening," I'm not sure if his softening is due to an authentic desire to embrace his Churches alienated people, or if it is due to a strategic effort to capture their votes. There is quite a difference, in my mind.

A desire to embrace alienated persons seems humane, but when it amounts only to rhetoric that runs contrary to clearly expressed political positions, the actions, not the words, should be construed as more strategically resounding.

Given that the Church is demonstrating an apparent paucity of efforts to dialogue with and embrace its gay and lesbian members and those who support them, combined with the fact that Church is clearly uncomfortable even talking about gays and lesbians, there is little clear evidence the Church is sincerely prioritizing its relationship with the people in it's Church Corporation over it's political interests.

When the Archbishop demonstrates his interest in prioritizing people over political power, we might consider his comments as more sincere. Until then the political actions of the Church, speak louder than his words.

Andrea Morisette Grazzini

The important proposed Amendment is "the other one"

We already have a marriage law that says a marriage can only be between a male and a female.
Defeating the proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine this malarkey into our state constitution would still leave us with the existing law.

The problem is with the other one, the so-called "Voter ID" amendment. The net effect of that one would be to shave off about 15% of the left-leaning voters. This would leave the neo-cons and Tea Party folks in power for many years. Remember Rove/Cheney/Bush and their hopes for a "perpetual Republican majority?"

Defeating the anti-marriage amendment while losing on Voter ID would leave us worse off than we are now.

And, btw, five of the nine US Supreme Court justices are Catholic now.

Teaching not received

This is clearly a teaching not received. Most Catholics I know disagree with most of the Church's teachings about anything below the belt line. From contraception to the treatment of our GLTB brothers and sisters. They are all welcomed into my home and my church as full human's created in Gods own image.

Just to be clear

The head honchos of the DFL just threw a gay Representative under the bus for having sex with another man while at the same time encouraging the State to allow the two to marry. So we want to encourage tolerance and acceptance but if gay males actually have sex then they are unfit for public office. The Catholic Church is more welcoming than that.

Just to be clear

The condemnation of Rep. Gauthier's actions stems from its occurrence in a public place. The gender of the individuals involved was not the focus of the criticism.

These kinds of fine distinctions of fact do matter. Please take more care with your accusations. There's already been way to much unsubstantiated mudslinging (i.e. lying) in Florida this week, and the practice is becoming tiresome.

Welcoming gay men

Were you trying to be ironic with that remark?

Not really.

The Catholic church welcomes homosexuals but (as with all single persons) asks that they remain celibate. I'm not sure that the soon-to-be-ex-represetative feels welcome in the DFL.

Really?

And what factual resource are you drawing upon to support your ideas about the status of Rep. Gauthier's "welcome" status in the DFL as well as whatever you perceive the reasons for that to be?

Welcoming

The Catholic Church has a history of covering up, but not stopping, homosexual activity with young victims by its clergy (officeholders, if you prefer). I scarcely think that's anything in their favor.

Of course, the church offers

Of course, the church offers a sanctioned path to companionship and intimacy for straight single persons, while gay singles are expected to live a life void of either if they wish to retain the "graces" of the church. That's not particularly welcoming

"God's unchanging plan"--but Marriage HAS changed

One of the odd things about contemporary Catholic rhetoric on marriage is the insistence that humans cannot change marriage because it is a divine institution. One obvious problem with this is that marriage is not the same all over the world.

A second problem is that marriage--even in Western society--has changed over the years. In fact, the Catholic Church was pivotal in the biggest change, when the Church wrested control of marriage away from the family and planted it firmly in the Church. Prior to the twelfth century, marriage had to be arranged by permission of the heads of the families. The Church shifted the authority to marry to the consent of the couple, providing it was witnessed by a priest.

Today, couples take the authority to marry for granted. But this was a huge social change, from an institution organized around family property rights (including fertility rights) to an institution organized around individual freedom of consent.

Vote NO!

This is absurd. Is the Catholic Church so anti-gay, because it is more or less a gay organization?

It is no secret that most Catholic priests are homosexual. Not saying they are all sexually active, though many certainly are, just that the sexual orientation of the majority of Catholic priests is homosexual.

Or does the Church think that if it pushes so hard for a yes vote maybe people will forget the horror of the sex abuse that a majority of the archbishops and cardinals tried to hide from the parishioners. Let's face it, the abused children were more or less dismissed by the hierachy until they could no longer keep it hidden.

So, THESE are the people trying to "protect" marriage. Get real!!

I'm Catholic, and I'm VOTING NO!!

As writer Berg would say

Cites please. I'm sure the public would like to see the studies that show that most priests are gay and that the Church as a whole is a gay organization.

As an aside, does anyone know how the Muslims are voting as they are rapidly becoming a large voting bloc in the USA.

To Mr. Kapphahn and others who will vote yes to this amendment..

So what about those of us who are not Catholic or not Christian...why should we be forced to abide by your religious laws. Is that not a violation of the 1st Amendment? The founding fathers clearly stated that we should be free to worship the divine in a manner that we see fit...not in a manner that the government says we should or in a manner that anyone else says we should. Let's turn this around, as someone who opposes same sex marriage, how would you feel if the government came in and said that your church has to allow same sex marriages and that your clergy would be prosecuted if they refused to do so? Wouldn't you feel that would be a violation of the 1st Amendment? So why would the opposite not also be true. The government's side of marriage is the legal part. The parts that deal with inheritance and the estate. From a government standpoint, a marriage does not have to be officiated by clergy to be legally binding. It can be performed by a judge, a ship's captain, the mayor, and a long list of others. That is all this concerns. Not 1 single pro same sex marriage law have ever said that this will force a church to perform same sex marriage if they are agaisnt it...rather it will allow those denominations and faiths that do not have a problem with same sex marriage to perform said marriages. As a minister, my 1st amendment right of freedom of religion, as well as the rights of my coreligionists, are violated when the government tells me that I cannot legally marry a same sex couple. When you argue that the Judea-Chrsitian god or the bible says that homosexuality is wrong so it should be illegal, you are forgetting that this is not a Christian country. This is a pluralistic society that is comprised of people of many different faiths and many different beliefs...many of which do not have a problem with same sex marriage. Why are your rights more important than my rights? The simple fact is that if you do not like same sex marriage, don't marry someone of your sex...but don't try to get in the way of someone else's right to get married. And stop using the stupid and inane argument that you are protecting the institution of marriage. The biggest threat to marriage isn't same sex marriage...it is divorce...usually caused by infidelity. If you want to maintain the freedom to worship the divine as you see fit and the right for you to follow your religious beliefs, then you also have to defend mine. The only way that our government an our religious institutions can remain free is if they remain separate. What the Catholic Church is doing is a violation of the law and a violation of the statues that govern 501(c)(3) statues. By getting involved in the political process, they have abdicated their right to remain tax exempt as one of the conditions for religious institutions to have an automatic tax exempt status as well as the legal backing of being 501(c)(3) certified is that they remain out of the political process. I believe it is high time that the catholic church lose it's tax exempt status. If they want to be political players, they they should pay the price the rest of us do to be involved in that process. This holds true to any religion or religious group. Equal protection under the law applies to all citizens. Not just Christians, Not just Straight people. It applies to all with no exception. That was the intention of the founding fathers...to create a nation where everyone is equal and everyone has the law applied to them in an equal manner. I won't even get into the religious arguments as to why it is wrong to prevent same sex marriage as that is just a distraction. We as citizens of the USA should vote for what is right and just regardless of our beliefs.

Poor Greg Kapphahn!

I have to admit the comment he wrote in this thread was one of the more "rambly" ones of his that I've read. But I do believe you've misunderstood his position on this, which will probably become clear if you read here another of his comments in a different thread:

http://tinyurl.com/98qn5zw

In general, I admire his repeated posts refusing to abdicate the "religious high ground" to those who would deny marriage to the GLBT community supposedly on the basis of how they interpret the "word of God". Mr. Kapphahn has responded on more than one occasion by pointing out that his faith in that same God leads him to some entirely different conclusions. In other words, he points out that just because a person is "religious" it does not necessarily follow that a person of faith would believe that GLBT folks should be denied the right to marry. This is a position he's stated a number of times. As you spend more time here, you'll become more familiar with his writing style.

I really think you're both on the same side. Just wanted to be sure that got said!

misguided focus

The Catholic church needs to get out of politics and focus on the sacrament of marriage as defined by the Catholic church. The state's legal definitions of marriage are entirely unrelated to the church's, which is obvious when we look at the divorce side. While my parents are legally divorced, the church considers them to be married, despite both now being legally married to new spouses. I suspect this curiosity of the Catholic faith impacts far more members than their position on gay marriage.