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Conflicted Catholics: Consciences wrestle with church actions on marriage amendment

LGBT flag and Cathedral of Saint Paul

Lisa Vanderlinden grew up a Roman Catholic. She went to a Catholic college, married in the church and taught at a Catholic high school.

Six years ago, Jason, the youngest of Vanderlinden and husband Brent’s four sons, came out as gay. He was 13, in the eighth grade and every bit as devout as his mother.

The family continued to attend services in the large, suburban parish where they had worshiped for more than two decades. A talented composer even as a teen, Jason in particular loved the music and the liturgy.

But as time went on it became increasingly painful to reconcile their consciences, which told them all four of their sons were worthy of the same rights, with the direction the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was pushing the church to take.

But the family had no idea what else to do, so they stayed. Then three years ago, Lisa Vanderlinden read a newspaper article that mentioned a parish that billed itself as inclusive. Even though the new church immediately felt like home, she’s found it hard to hear what’s been going on in the old one recently.

In keeping with orders from Archbishop John Nienstedt, a prayer is now said during Sunday services affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A committee has been formed to work in favor of a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution banning same-sex marriage that will appear on the November ballot.

And a percentage of every dollar parishioners give goes to the archdiocese, which recently donated $650,000 to the group pushing for the ballot initiative.

‘We must speak our conscience’

“The Catholic hierarchy would like the public to believe that it is the only voice of the people,” she said. “Since Vatican II that’s not true. Our teaching says we must speak our conscience even when it conflicts with church authorities.”

Like other Catholics interviewed for this story, Vanderlinden is uncomfortable naming either her new parish or the old one. They do not want to put clergy and church staff, who they feel are doing their best to care for conflicted parishioners, in a bad spot. Some fear they will be written off as not being “real” Catholics.

Most have long disagreed with other official church stances but previously felt that the church’s teaching on conscience allowed them both to disagree and be active members of their parishes. The difference this time: Preaching is one thing; political activism is something else entirely.

“The silencing that’s going on is incredible,” said Vanderlinden. “I know a lot of people are not giving money anymore. I know a lot of people are not going to church anymore.”

Some, like her, have joined the local group Catholics for Marriage Equality; the Vanderlindens explained their decision in a DVD recently created by the group.

Some just stopped attending. Others move to parishes such as St. Joan of Arc or St. Frances Cabrini, which run the gamut from liberal to openly defiant. Some end up in places like Spirit of St. Stephen’s, a faith community attended by parishioners who belonged to Minneapolis’ St. Stephen’s before the church shuttered it in 2008, citing “liturgical confusion.”

Views on issue are changing

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, support for same-sex marriage has increased in recent years. Almost three-fourths of the religiously unaffiliated now support making same-sex marriage legal. In a survey carried out by the group in 2008-2009, 44 percent of white Catholics favored marriage equality and 45 percent were opposed. In 2010, 49 percent said they support same-sex marriage while 41 percent were opposed. Among those attending services less than weekly, support increased from 51 percent to 59 percent.

“Among Catholics as a whole,” Pew reported recently, “supporters of same-sex marriage now outnumber opponents (52 percent vs. 37 percent)…. A majority of white Catholics (57 percent) now express support for same-sex marriage, while Hispanic Catholics continue to be closely divided (42 percent favor same-sex marriage, 42 percent are opposed).”

Lisa Vanderlinden
Catholics for Marriage EqualityLisa Vanderlinden, right, thanks those who gathered for the second week of Catholics for Marriage Equality-Minnesota’s Lenten prayer vigil.

Laura Kuntz grew up Catholic and married into a family whose life revolved around the church. “They talk about Catholicism the way other people talk about baseball and football,” she said. “It’s really the fabric of our life. I hadn’t realized exactly how much until this issue came up.”

Kuntz started exploring alternatives to her large suburban church just a few weeks ago. Her husband and son still attend.

Kuntz has a sister and a dear friend who are lesbian and has long wished for the ordination of women and optional celibacy for priests. And she was long comfortable with the notion that “we agree to disagree and come together in the Eucharist.”

A year and a half ago when Nienstedt circulated a DVD calling for a same-sex marriage ban, Kuntz and her husband stopped giving to their church, because it was obligated to tithe 8 percent to 10 percent of their donation to the archdiocese.

‘My heart just stopped’

Two months ago, there were a series of communications about the marriage amendment in the church bulletin, including the announcement of a committee to manage communications about the amendment.

“My heart just stopped,” she said.

A financial adviser, Kuntz has some gay and lesbian clients. It’s her job to get to know their aspirations and values. “I know this amendment will hurt them,” she said. “I think it’s already hurting them that it’s even out there.”

At some point after she shared her feelings with a few fellow parishioners, she got a call from someone she describes only as a diocesan employee, who told her about a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality. Throughout Lent, the group held vigils outside the chancery in St. Paul. For Kuntz, participating brought comfort.

“I just did not know how big a national issue this was,” she said. “I did not know how much money the church has spent on this. I looked carefully at the latest appeal a month ago and certain political contributions were not on the list of activities the money was being used to support.”

The church’s spending on the upcoming election also angered Woodbury resident Beth-Ann Bloom, who participated in the Lenten vigils. “Catholics are allowed to try to persuade other Catholics,” she said. “It’s one thing if [priests] argue from the pulpit. It’s another thing if they give money to someone else who they have no control over.”

She’s also angry that there’s no way for her to stop a portion of her donations from being used for an effort that violates her conscience. “That’s money we gave for maintenance, for social programs, for pensions and all that,” she said. “And it’s considerable.”

Nienstedt’s role

In March, Nienstedt was one of 13 bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota who met with Pope Benedict XVI to report on affairs in their diocese. According to The Catholic Spirit, “Archbishop Nienstedt told Pope Benedict that ‘all the bishops are resolved to take this opportunity that we have in the political area to catechize in the religious area, to catechize about the meaning and the sanctity of marriage.’

“’What I think is so important in the pope’s message is that he said — and I hadn’t heard him say this before — it’s really a question of justice that we maintain the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman,’ Archbishop Nienstedt said. ‘If we take that away, it’s going to be an injustice for all of society. I believe that — particularly for the young, for our children and our children’s children.’”

The former bishop of New Ulm, Nienstedt called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage even before he was named archbishop in May of 2008. And he had previously denied communion to gays and lesbians.

But it was his DVD that tipped the balance for many. In September 2010, six weeks before a gubernatorial election pitting two pro-gay-marriage candidates against one opponent, the archdiocese used donated funds to mail DVDs advocating a constitutional ban to 400,000 Minnesota households.

“At best, so called same-sex marriage is an untested social experiment,” Nienstedt said in the video. “And at worst, it poses a dangerous risk with potentially far-reaching consequences. An exercise of caution should be in order.”

The move angered many Catholics, who saw it as going beyond reinforcing church positions to engage in political advocacy. At first, John Rogers was one of them.

“When I received the video in my mailbox I was pretty upset,” said Rogers, who now writes “Catholics in the Pew,” a blog for the pro-amendment Minnesota Catholic Conference. “Personally, I was not in support of gay marriage but I was uncomfortable with the church getting involved in what seemed like a political issue.”

After several months of conversation and reading, Rogers was persuaded that the church had a role to play in the debate. “I think there’s a lot of wisdom there that should be part of a conversation,” he said. “As Catholics, we are obligated to follow our consciences. But we are also obligated to form our consciences.”

‘I call upon that promise’

Others were not convinced, including some clergy and church staff who voiced their opposition publicly. In a speech to the diocese’s priests in October, after the campaigns for and against the ballot initiative had gotten under way, Nienstedt warned that there was no room for open dissent.

“The gravity of this struggle and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all,” he said. “On your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.”

Nienstedt also directed each parish to establish a committee to work in favor of the amendment and ordered their captains to report directly to the archdiocese. And he distributed a prayer for marriage: “Grant to us all the gift of courage to proclaim and defend your plan for marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman in a lifelong, exclusive relationship of loving trust, compassion and generosity, open to the conception of children.”

Parish reactions have varied

One of the authors of the blog The Progressive Catholic Voice, Paula Reddy is unconvinced the prayer is being said in very many parishes. “I don’t know anyone whose parish is pushing this,” she said. It doesn’t matter whether the priest agrees with it or not, the issue is introducing a potentially divisive element to a worship service.

“One of my friends said their deacon was asked to give it as part of the homily,” she said. “He said, ‘It’s not that I am opposed to it, but I don’t want to do something so controversial.’ ”

Her fellow blogger Mary Beckfeld has friends in four western suburban parishes who say the prayer is not being said there, either. A friend of hers was asked to read it on Good Friday and refused. Her pastor’s response: “Do what your conscience tells you.”

In some parishes the prayer is not recited by the community but is present nonetheless. In John Rogers’ parish it is recited by the lector during special intentions. Some include a printed version in the program while others display copies in the entrance.

Some are actively campaigning. Edina’s Our Lady of Grace, for example, has posted a link to Minnesota for Marriage’s “marriage minutes” videos on its homepage. Parish newsletters contain ads and messages about the amendment from Nienstedt. Last week’s newsletters contained the archdiocese’s response to a Star Tribune column by Jon Tevlin quoting students at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis who were offended by a diocesan presentation on marriage being made at local Catholic schools.  

Finally, parishes on both ends of the spectrum are holding conversations about marriage. Some are being imposed from outside; some are more organic. University of St. Thomas College of Law Professor Teresa Collett, who has worked on the intersection between religion and conservative politics nationally, has appeared at several of the forums. St. Joan of Arc recently welcomed in speakers on both sides of the issue.

And people are finding their way to Catholics for Marriage Equality, whose first Lenten vigil drew 80 people and last 250. An interactive map on the group’s website shows that people throughout Minnesota have signed a statement of support.

According to the group’s director, Michael Bayly, Catholics who disagree with church hierarchy face different obstacles from members of other denominations when it comes to finding each other. At the moment, they can’t use parish newsletters, make announcements in church or meet to support one another.

Ron Joki became a Roman Catholic 25 years ago, nearly two decades after meeting his partner, Jay Pearson, and fully aware of the official stance toward gays and lesbians. “I chose at that time in spite of some of these restrictive rules,” he said.

He had long before quit the evangelical free church he was raised in and had explored a number of spiritual paths. Joki was older and secure in his identity when he tumbled onto a parish that was home to a number of welcoming, intellectual Catholics.

“I felt drawn,” he said simply. “I’ve continued to be called on that path.”

‘We are not breaking the important rule’

Joki sees no contradiction between his sexual orientation and his faith. “There are many ancient rules in the Bible that no longer serve us, that were cultural,” he said. “We are not breaking the important rule, which we interpret as the basic rule of loving God and loving our neighbors.”

He’s comfortable with the approach some liberal parishes are taking of engaging in discussions about the church’s support for the amendment, but making sure multiple viewpoints are represented. “God speaks to us in our conscience,” Joki explained. “We need to be respectful of all sides.”

He knows plenty of people who are on the fence, as well as people who have left Catholicism altogether for other faiths.

“The spirit works in many levels, not only at the top of the hierarchy but at every level,” Joki said. “Many of the people the church now recognizes as saints, as heroes of the church, were originally people who were renounced and condemned.

“Sometimes, the opinions that are the last to change are at the top.”

Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by Bill Toppson on 04/18/2012 - 09:21 am.

    same sex marriage

    Your articles skips over the fact that there are two types of marriages. A couple could be married before a judge (a civil ceremony) or be married in a church. Most people get a “license” for the civil ceremony and when married in a church they have both types of marriage covered. The law in America can only cover the legal or “civil” marriage. Even if the Minnesota law is changed it won’t apply to the Catholic Church, or in the Muslim Mosque, nor will it apply to any other religions.
    It seems sad that so many people have forgotten that America was founded by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe. In America, under the Establishment clause, the government is not supposed to support, or “establish”, one religion over another. But currently, the Catholic church is getting a lot of pressure to conform to a current world view from those trying to use the law as a hammer. First on the issue of birth control and now on the marriage amendment one religion is under attack. Perhaps these actions will do away with the Catholic church in America but I don’t think it will sway the beliefs of the Muslim religion at all. It is funny how the Catholics get picked on but other religions aren’t even mentioned.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/18/2012 - 09:55 am.

      The opposite is more true

      The Catholic Church is not forced to become an insurance company, but it chooses to. It must adhere to the laws for insurance companies. That does not mean that the Church itself is forced to provide birth control. If and when the Catholic Church establishes a bank (at least one that is available to anyone), they will also have to adhere to banking laws in this country. If you’re going to play the game, you have to play by the rules.

      That being said, the fact that the Church is funding political ads that could result in helping a law that affects people from all walks of life, religious or non, the end result is that the state would support the Catholic view (and enforce it) over all other views by implementing laws (which has already happened).

      You’re right. State-recognized marriage is free from religion. That is an excellent reason to ignore the Catholic Church in matters regarding marriage law. If the Church refuses to recognize the marriage within their organization, fine. Allowing same sex marriage does not force any church to perform weddings they do not wish to. If we were to limit marriage (or anything, for that matter) based on all views from all religions, there would be no state-recognized marriage whatsoever.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/18/2012 - 10:06 am.

      Catholics picked on?

      Seems to me they started this fight and they are being as aggressive on this issue as any church I’ve ever seen in my life be aggressive on an issue except for maybe churches during the civil rights era. It would be interesting to see how involved the Catholic Church was in fighting Jim Crow versus what they are doing now.

      To bad they weren’t this aggressive in combatting child sexual abuse.

    • Submitted by Dave Arthur on 04/18/2012 - 10:20 am.

      Bizarre post …

      A very bizarre take on things. Allowing same-gender couples to be joined in state-recognized civil marriages does not impact what the Catholic Church believes regarding marriage, or how it lives out those beliefs in their own private worship practices. You even seem to acknowledge that, but then you turn around and assert that this marriage amendment is an attack on the church. That is bizarre both because it contradicts your initial statement but also because the Catholic Church actually supports the amendment. Just how is the Catholic Church being picked on??

    • Submitted by Kim Pham on 06/25/2012 - 10:58 am.

      Do you ever go the Holocaust museum?

      A comment that stick to me when I went to the holocaust museum – something summarize like this – When they come for my neighbor – I was silent – … When they come for me – no one there to speak up for me. I agree that the marriage discussion was just a civil law nothing to do with the church – except if you don’t voice your opinion now – then when the law really violate the church teaching then it is too late. No one there to speak up.

      The church advocates Love and prayer. I agree with this comment above. Many people claim that they are Catholics but not many read the bible and form their own conscience or opinion. The bible tells you why marriage is between man and a woman because Marriage is the rock that form the society. I have no problem with friends being Gay or Lesbian and whatever they do in their private life is none of my business. I do not force my opinion on them and they should not force their opinion on me. We are slowly slipping away from the religious freedom that this country is building with – Where Life, Liberty and Pursue of happiness is the foundation. Voice your opinion before your liberty is no different than living in China.

      • Submitted by Madeline Daniels on 08/19/2012 - 09:45 am.

        I find it ironic you choose to quote Martin Niemöller. He was a pastor, anti-communist, and Nazi sympathizer when Hitler first rose to power. He ultimately became disillusioned and was arrested before being sent to two concentration camps. His popular quote highlights the dangers of political apathy.

        I guarantee you that one day, same-sex marriage will be legal in this country. And that hard-fought victory will be met with celebration, relief, and acceptance. It’s not going to happen overnight, but It is going to happen. And one day, all those that fought against this basic right for their neighbors will be asked by their children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren why it took so long, why they fought for oppression against the inevitable freedom to marry.

        I don’t pretend that the Nazi’s genocide is anywhere near the same plane as homophobia. But Kim, you too are going to be on the wrong side of history some day. Just like Martin Niemöller.

  2. Submitted by Ross Williams on 04/18/2012 - 10:23 am.

    Defend Marriage for Everyone

    We have an unmarried, all male, celibate, catholic hierarchy trying to give guidance about something where they have no experience and limited personal understanding. They are obsessed with sex, I think largely as a result of their personal lifestyle choice. The obsession makes it impossible for them to consider marriage outside the context of the sexual conduct of the marriage partners.

    Proponents of the idea that legal access to marriage should be limited seem to believe marriage exists solely for the purpose of sex and procreation. But marriage is about creating a life partnership in which sexual intimacy plays only a part. Using the traditional marriage vow, we pledge our support to one another “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish … so long as we both shall live “. Legal protection of that partnership through marriage helps to accomplish all of those things. It assures people that the life partner they chose will continue to be a recognized part of their lives, even if they aren’t in a position to insist on it. Whether that is holding their hand in the hospital, supporting them financially or protecting their interests.

    It also allows society to hold the partners accountable together for their financial decisions. One partner can’t take on debt and fail to repay it pleading poverty, while the other partner supports a lavish lifestyle for the couple.

    Marriage also protects the children a couple chooses to raise together, whether they are both the biological parents or not. “Blended families” are quite common now and by providing legal protection to marriage partnerships, we also provide legal protection to the children if that partnership is broken. We have all heard of children caught in the middle of a failing marriage and being used as a weapon by one spouse against the other. Or as a weapon between in-laws when one spouse dies. This is why courts are empowered to intervene to assure that the child’s interests are protected and their relationship with both parents maintained.

    Finally there are benefits to society from having a legal marriage that protects both partners if the relationship ends. Traditionally, this has meant protecting the wife’s interests when the male bread winner left. In modern relationships, it means that the economic partnership is ended in a way that is equitable and doesn’t leave one partner dependent on charity or government for their support. Marriage is a romantic relationship, but it is also a legal partnership that protects society’s interests.

    We ought to be facilitating marriage for everyone who wants to get married, not preventing it because we are obsessed with our disapproval of a couple’s sex lives. The male Catholic hierarchy is wrong. The church as as whole is right, marriage is good for everyone. Lets defend it for everyone.

  3. Submitted by Herbert Davis on 04/18/2012 - 10:33 am.

    Tax exempt payments to protect Bishops who protected pedophiles

    No organization is perfect and things would have to get to the point where there is systematic hypocrisy before I stopped contributing.

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

    Who really believes in sin? We believe in forgiveness.
    Rev. Haggard

  4. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 04/18/2012 - 10:38 am.

    What Marriage Equality Means

    ‘The law in America can only cover the legal or “civil” marriage.’

    Bill Toppson’s statement is accurate. But the marriage equality movement understands this, too.

    To my knowledge, there exists no movement – at least, none that is outside the Catholic Church itself – to require Catholic clergy to bestow their spiritual blessing upon same-sex unions. The goal of the marriage equality movement is to secure the same legal benefits for same-sex marriage as the law already provides for opposite-sex marriage.

    Not many people realize this, but marriage as a civil institution “offers 1,138 Federal benefits and responsibilities, not including hundreds more offered by every state.” Equality in both of these – in responsibilities as well as in benefits – is what marriage equality means.

    Read more at:

  5. Submitted by Mike Supina on 04/18/2012 - 11:26 am.

    Not conflicted whatsoever…

    …the anti-marriage amendment is hateful, unjust, anti-family, and un-Christian, notwithstanding the pronouncements of the hierarchy of my church.

  6. Submitted by craig furguson on 04/18/2012 - 11:36 am.


    He gave us free will for a reason. It’s up to us to decide what to do with it.

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/18/2012 - 11:46 am.

    I Would Remind My Catholic and Other Conservative Friends,

    Their leaders, and the leaders of ALL Christian faith expressions, of one simple fact:


    Your ancestors were only human, as well, even if they believed themselves to have been consecrated and set aside to God’s use.

    For Christians to believe that their religious ancestors (except for Jesus, himself,) are MORE than human, or to believe that you, yourself, are MORE than human is to violate one of the primary tenets of your own faith, that Jesus ALONE was “without sin.”

    Church leaders, like Bishop Nienstedt, who clearly believe that their own opinions are MORE than human and thus cast aside the humility required of ALL of humans in the face of God, fail to recognize their own frailty and limitations and, thereby, substitute their limited and imperfect selves as objects of worship and devotion in place of God and God’s son, Jesus.

    To worship such people and the institution(s) they lead is to fall into idolatry and substitute humans, human interpretations of holy texts, and human-created institutions in place of God. It is a violation of the First Commandment.

    Those leaders and institutions that require their members to worship the church and it’s leaders in place of God are requiring their members to separate themselves from God and fall into the sin of Idolatry. In their pride, they preach apostasy, mistake their own ideas for those of the almighty, and remain steadfastly unable to tell the difference.

    In place of such limited, mistaken, and misguided faith, perhaps all of us who call ourselves Christians might want to consider worshiping the God made known to us in and through the ACTUAL life, ministry and teachings of Jesus, as best we can known him through the Gospels and through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, always accepting that what we believe we know is limited and imperfect and must continue to be so as long as we in habit this earthly life.

  8. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 04/18/2012 - 11:57 am.

    Why should Catholic bishops tell me and my family how to live

    I think Catholics should be able to practice their religion any way they want as long as no one is hurt. If they want people to take an oath to get married in their church, or require certain behavior to attend, that’s fine. If a priest doesn’t want to give the sacrament to a gay person, fine. That’s freedom of religion. If Catholic Bishops want to tell their flock exactly how to think and live and the flock accepts that, fine. However, I am not Catholic. So why should I be forced to live like a Catholic. I personally think th Catholic church is messing something that could eventually come back and bite them.

  9. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/18/2012 - 12:47 pm.

    The Roman Catholic Church

    has been a political entity for the vast majority of its existence. Expecting it to act as anything else is simply naive.

    Why it’s chosen to risk making gay marriage its Waterloo is beyond me, but it seems to me this could be the point from which we will measure the collapse of the RCC in the United States. Who knew? I had expected the critical moment to come over the ordination of women, but the Church seems to have managed to convince the world at large the question is moot, that the members of that movement are fringe-dwellers of no significance.

    The Church largely has lost the abortion issue around the world. Perhaps it is driven to this crusade by fear of insignificance. Ah, to be a bat in the Vatican belfry.

  10. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/18/2012 - 12:51 pm.

    The church changes v-e-r-y slowly

    and will probably come to accept the view of liberal Americans at some point. Meanwhile, however, thousands of people are being punished for a genetic difference over which they have no control.

    In addition to the websites you mention above, interested viewers might visit Catholics for Choice (, whose members dissent from the church’s teachings on birth control and abortion (which they point out has never officially been designated as a sin).

  11. Submitted by Dave Arthur on 04/18/2012 - 01:40 pm.

    Changing tide??

    I don’t know as I’ve visited this forum before, so I’m just curious. Aside from the completely incoherent initial post, and one hopelessly enigmatic post entitled “God,” the anti-SSM folks just aren’t putting up a fight here. Has substantive opinion in this forum always been so dramatically lopsided in favor of SSM, or does this represent a change. I’ve seen that kind of change in other forums over the past year … kind of like the anti-SSM folks are giving up.

  12. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 04/18/2012 - 02:16 pm.


    “a percentage of every dollar parishioners give goes to the archdiocese, which recently donated $650,000 to the group pushing for the ballot initiative.”

    And once again we must wonder why the churches are tax-exempt. The original deal was that the church would stay out of government and government, in return, would not mess with the internal workings of the church.

    Since nobody is trying to legislate anything that would force churches to perform marriages to which they object, it would appear that the church is, here, acting in — bad faith.

    • Submitted by James Blum on 04/18/2012 - 05:06 pm.

      I’ve always wondered this

      Why are religious institutions tax-exempt? Why should money given to support your religious hierarchy be non-taxable, but money given to support your [baseball team, knitting circle, bicycling group, whatever else you want to fill in the blank with] be taxable? I agree that donations to support any charitable work a religious institution does should be tax-exempt, but that charitable work is a small part of any religious institution’s expenditures. Money that is used for employee salaries and benefits, building maintenance, decorations, landscaping, printing, etc. shouldn’t be exempt from taxes.

      More specific to Catholicism, I have always wondered as well why women would wish to work for the Catholic church, given the discriminatory views of the church toward women. Imagine, for example, that you were offered a job with a huge company, but you were told in advance that, as a woman, you could never be allowed to be the president of the company, or even a vice president. In fact, you couldn’t even expect to be a senior manager at any point in your career, and the only reason for that is that you are female. Oh, and by the way, they are going to make health-care decisions for you as well. Why would you wish to work for a company like that? And yet I have an aunt who is a nun, and a female cousin who is the principal of a large, well-known Twin Cities Catholic high school. Presumably they are both pleased to have reached as high in their respective organizations as they possibly can, because for them, since they are female, there is no farther they can go. In 2012, a woman can’t be a priest, much less a cardinal or pope. How is that still possible?

  13. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 04/18/2012 - 02:20 pm.


    I do not understand why churches–the Catholic church is probably the most egregious and contributes the most money–to politics and still keeps its tax status as a nonprofit. I contribute to several organizations, and each one is careful to say whether the gift is tax deductible or not. Some say, roughly translated, you cannot claim this as a tax deduction because we work for change in political and social causes.
    There are some fundamentalist churches who are openly, maybe boastfully, committed to candidates or political causes who apparently continue to get a nonprofit status.
    I wonder how much money would be involved if all churches that promote political points of view and candidate had to kick in tax money.

  14. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/18/2012 - 03:48 pm.

    Hi Dave Arthur

    I’d say the majority of MinnPost readers are liberal, moderately liberal or moderately conservative. A very few are far-right conservatives, but I don’t see any comments from them to this article.

    • Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 04/19/2012 - 10:28 am.

      Your assertion may be true. The conservative/liberal divide is quite clumsy as a means of analyzing viewpoints. I generally consider myself a conservative and it is easy to list a few conservative principles that prompt my strong opposition to the amendment.

      First, cluttering up the Minnesota Constitution with a Republican/Catholic Bishops talking point is not conservative. Second, not trusting individuals and couples to manage their own most personal and critical life decisions is not conservative. I could go on, but admiration for the few who can comment on this with only a few words makes me want to stop.

  15. Submitted by Beth Hawkins on 04/18/2012 - 03:50 pm.

    The church’s money

    In fairness, I should note that the Archdiocese told parishoners that the money it donated to Minnesota for Marriage was investment income, not donations: “The source of these funds was investment income; it did not come from parish assessments, the Catholic Service Appeal, or donations to parishes or to the Archdiocese. Funding levels for other priorities of the Archdiocese have remained constant, or have even increased, during the past year.”

    This distinction did not appease the people interviewed for this story, however; some asked, possibly rhetorically, where the money originally invested came from.

    • Submitted by Peter Shea on 04/19/2012 - 08:36 am.

      money is money

      It all just money shuffling. That “investment income” could have used elsewhere to support the programs that the Catholic Service Appeal funds. As such, as a Catholic, I no longer contribute to the Archbishop when he asks for money. I’d rather designate my money to support charities and services that actually help people improve their lot in life rather than try to demean or discriminate against people.

  16. Submitted by Rolf Westgard on 04/18/2012 - 03:57 pm.

    Brent and Lisa

    Please leave that oppressive environment and come to a church where your family will be welcome. The open and affirming Macalester Plymouth Church of St Paul would be a good one, along with a number of others in the area.

  17. Submitted by John McDonald on 04/20/2012 - 04:30 pm.


    As a married Catholic father, I am disheartened by the stance of Minnesota’s Catholic bishops (led by Nienstedt) on the subject of marriage equality. Why is it that these blessed men, who have known neither marriage nor fatherhood (but who probably count as co-clergymen many gay brothers), find it their urgent task to champion passage of the proposed marriage-between-man-and-woman amendment to Minnesota’s Constitution? Has the station they have achieved within the Church come at the cost of their compassion for the disenfranchised? Has it so clouded their sense of Christian humility and charity that they feel obligated to incite citizens to further suppress the rights of such loving, gentle souls as many in our gay and lesbian communities? I am not naive; I understand their loyalty to Church doctrine. But it is not their place to advocate constitutional change as a means of limiting human rights. In a world so filled with bigotry and division, our religious leaders must find ways to bridge our differences, not widen them. After all, the New Testament is hardly a manifesto for exclusion. Instead, it proclaims Christ’s message of inclusion — his compassion for the outcasts of society, his healing of the lepers, his forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery — a message that so animated the early Church. It takes a lot of courage to love unconditionally, as He did.

    Gentlemen, your Pharisaical call to action should be seen as nothing more than a cry to cast the first stone at our gay brothers and sisters. Christ never wasted a moment of his short time on Earth advocating political suppression under the cover of religious correctness. To the contrary, he often exposed spiritual arrogance in the religious leaders of his time. As bishops, you are the very successors to the Apostles. That should remain your charge.

    Therefore, I implore all priests and parishioners of good conscience to shun the not so veiled threats of the Church’s hierarchy, particularly those as arrogant and power-hungry as our dear Archbishop’s. It was hundreds of years ago that Lord Acton warned of the perils of absolute power. If our modern day Apostolic leaders cannot lead the Church in the fashion Christ originally asked of their predecessors; if they cannot espouse positions of humility, compassion and equality in such areas as secular union, women’s rights, and optional celibacy; if we can no longer ask them for guidance that is true to Christ’s message; then we must ask ourselves:

    What Would Jesus Do?

  18. Submitted by jim schidt on 04/21/2012 - 12:16 am.

    Did god take a leave of absents?

    I’m was raised catholic,I don’t see why this is so difficult.When or what happened,that made god unavailble to be the judge of ones sins?The Republicans will soon be are god,and that will either be good for you top 5% or taketh away from us 95%.Are we the judger or the judged?My belief is that he is aware we are not perfect,no person is even close.Does anybody watch tv? It seems like its already full of enough noise and static yet in my opinion most forget their compassion hanging on the coat rack at church.I very well could be wrong.

  19. Submitted by Mark Boever on 09/03/2012 - 09:56 am.

    Church Saints

    Canonized saints in the Catholic Church are the faithful who followed without exception the Churches doctrines (teachings on faith and morals). Sinners are people who chose a different road then what Christ, His Church and the Chruches bible have taught. God did not create Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve. True sexual love is only expressed in the creative life giving relationship of husband and wife as Christ defined. God does not change and God is truth. Thus, His truth can not change. Marriage is defined by God our creator, not by man and whatever image he wants to make God into. Repent and be saved.

  20. Submitted by bob smith on 09/03/2012 - 02:31 pm.


    This is nothing but liberal propaganda. The Church loves all homosexuals. And according to the Cathecism of the Catholic Church, the causes for homosexuality are not entirely understood, but it is to be considered a cross. There are many homosexually-oriented people who live/try to live chaste lives. I’m sure it’s not easy, but that’s what makes it a cross. This misguided family is trying to pull at people’s heartstrings by making this an equality issue. Marriage is a Sacrament instituted by God. You cannot change that. These people are trying to force their views on their Church. They say many have left the Church because of ‘marriage inequality’. This is silly. As a matter of fact, many have left the Church because of their lack of courage in standing up for traditional morality. The young man in this video seems like a nice person, but that does not excuse a life of sexual sin. There is a group called Courage which exists in every Archdiocese in the country. Courage is a support group for those dealing with same-sex attractions. They come together in mutual support and try to live a chaste life in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Jesus said, “he who does not take up his cross every day and follow me, is not worthy of me.” We all have crosses, and they help us to cling to God for strength. So follow God, follow the Chuch, imitate the Saints who feared offending God, and tried to do His will with all their heart – no matter the cost.

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