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Michael J. O’LoughlinNovember 10, 2010


CNN covers the ongoing controversy in the Minnesota Catholic community surrounding the distribution of 400,000 DVDs to the local faithful by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. Financed by the Knights of Columbus and anonymous donors, the DVDs offer a strong reminder that the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage, and exhorts faithful Catholics to voice their opposition as well.

It is laughable to think that a Catholic today who has any semblance of a relationship with the Church could possibly forget that its hierarchy opposes same-sex marriage. One may rightly wonder what kind of wisdom was at work in spending presumably significant resources on this initiative. All over the country, food banks are more crowded than ever, foreclosures continue at unprecedented levels, and the need for basic human necessities remains alarmingly high. And yet it appears that the Church in Minnesota spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the production and mailing of anti-gay marriage propaganda? Some Catholics may support the position of the Archbishop Nienstedt in particular and the hierarchy in general, and others may disagree strongly. But to spend precious resources—time and money—on a project such as this, at a time when so many people are in need, certainly merits closr examination. We are compelled as Catholics to care for those in need, and with a limited supply of resources, we will do wisely to reflect thoroughly on how we use them.   

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12 years 10 months ago
We have to remember that it is not ''my church'' OR the ''hierarchy's church'' - it is Christ's Church.  As such, He appointed its leaders and gave them the power to bind and loose.  If we love Him, we have to listen to His leaders, respect them, and struggle to understand and assent to their teachings - even when they may be difficult.  When we do so, we discover wisdom that eluded us when we were in dissent.

Martin, What I was trying to say is that the folks in the pew have a less isolated, insulated life, and are beginning to deal with a new reality. Kids coming out before they are emotionally or finacially able to handle rejection.  That would be the my-their issue. And I believe some of our bishops and many of our clergy who are involved in day to day ministry are seening this, and responding with compassion.

If we love Him, we have to listen to His leaders, respect them, and struggle to understand and assent to their teachings - even when they may be difficult.  When we do so, we discover wisdom that eluded us when we were in dissent.

Please don't suggest that we should follow our church leaders blindly...without questioning and listening for the Holy Spirit. I believe in primacy of conscience. 

please...Google ''pope apologizes for...'' and you will find apologies for treatment of native americans..the crusades, the treatment of Gallileo... and of course the newest HIDING and MOVING the priests who abused children. 

I love my church, but I will not throw my love for my child and friends under a bus while waiting for my church to realize that we should be following the words of Jesus...love thy neighbor. I think He really meant that by the way.  There will be an apology some day for the way we have made these kids feel. I hope they are still breathing...to hear it.

William Kurtz
12 years 11 months ago
Thank you, Michael Brooks, for summarizing this whole flap in a nutshell. "The wisdom in this initiative is not so much in affirming the Church's well-known official position on the sinfulness of homosexual acts, but in getting conservative candidates...elected."
The issue is whether "getting conservative candidates elected" is the business of the church, and whether that is a good thing. Many of say no, and it does not necessarily mean we favor gay marriage, married or female priests, etc.
The Catholic Church is not Focus on the Family (whose business is "getting conservative candidates elected"), and this archbishop is not going to go to sleep some night and wake up as James Dobson, much as he might wish.    
Martin Gallagher
12 years 11 months ago
Deb - kudos to you for housing those kids - truly Christ's work!  I would like to respectfully comment on one thing you said, though.  Deb wrote, "My church (the people in the pew, not the hierachy)...."  We have to remember that it is not "my church" OR the "hierarchy's church" - it is Christ's Church.  As such, He appointed its leaders and gave them the power to bind and loose.  If we love Him, we have to listen to His leaders, respect them, and struggle to understand and assent to their teachings - even when they may be difficult.  When we do so, we discover wisdom that eluded us when we were in dissent.

Ed, I agree that we can do more to help struggling Catholic marriages and promote the truth about marriage in general.  I am not familiar with any of those ministries you mentioned.  Have you asked your local diocese to provide more resourses to support marriage?  What was their reply?

Stephen SCHEWE
12 years 11 months ago
I don't see anything funny about the tragic conflicts of priests in the closet.  A popular priest was arrested here in Minnesota last week for flashing an undercover police officer in a park where people had complained about lewd behavior taking place in public.


This man will probably never work as a priest again.  I don't know him personally and can't see in his heart, but I wonder: if the Church had continued down the path pointed to by Always Our Children in 1997, could priests like this have received pastoral help to address the desires that prompt this kind of acting out?


The fundamental question of whether homosexuality is natural, even God-given, or objectively disordered is what's at issue.  The current Church leadership's policy of telling gay men they are not fit candidates for the priesthood delays the time when the Catholic Church will be able to have an open conversation about this question.  And the tragedies will continue. 
12 years 11 months ago
Hey Bill - It seems to me that if it's the government's business to legislate to the detriment of the Church and its teachings, then it's the Church's business to counter those forces of evil.
12 years 11 months ago
The nature of this argument that some of you seem to be missing is not about homosexuality itself, or whether of not gay kids should be loved, etc., but is whether or not society should change its long-held definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and secondly whether the Catholic Church should be a vocal participant in that debate, and with what resources.  With respect, any other focus outside of marriage & its legal definition is a red herring.

The fact that gay marriage amendments are repeatedly defeated by very large numbers around the country (from right-wing California to left-wing Louisiana) and only un-elected judges read rights into the Constitution to re-define marriage should be very telling and troubling.  Whether the Church should change or clarify its teaching and relationship to gay Catholics is one thing; whether it should choose not to participate in the national debate over the definition of marriage and whether it should be free to utilize privately donated funds is another.  And the notion that some are going hungry because of this action by the Archdiocese is another red herring.
12 years 11 months ago
Please, Steve; I was not laughing at the struggles of homosexual (or heterosexual)priests remaining chaste.  I'm sure you know that, but lest anyone else misunderstand my post: the laugh was about not about the tragic effects of homosexuality, but about the suggestion that there is some secret about the extent of homosexuality in the priesthood. 
Andrew Nelson
12 years 11 months ago
Interesting thread.

I am not following this issue enough, but how'd the people vote on the issue? Was it on the ballot?
ed gleason
12 years 11 months ago
Michael Brooks indorses the bishop's protests against same sex secular marriages. "then it's the Church's business to counter those forces of evil.' What about multiple/serial hetero marriages, with kid abandonment? you see no 'evil' there? It's 20 times  larger than same sex marriage with 1000 times the effect. Do you want  bishop DVDs on that?
You say there is no secret about the gay priesthood? If it's 50 % as some experts say [Sipes]  do you advocate massive sanctions and DVDs going out? Do you advocate a parish Catholic citizen watch al la Cuba on priests sex orientation. Will the Gospel survive these sanctions or will eventually the Gospel  become as silent here as in Augustine's Hippo? What should the bishops do? I say do what a good father would do when his family is in serious difficulty. gather them up, huddle them together, reassure them, and he would forgo laying the blame on outside scapegoats for the difficulties. He would pastor.      
Stephen SCHEWE
12 years 11 months ago
Fair enough, Michael.  You're right; the percentage of men who are gay and part of today's priesthool is no secret.  Thanks for the clarification.

Jeff, your point that we should separate the treatment of gays in the church and its advocacy for a traditional definition of marriage is valid; it could be two separate debates.  If you believe, however, and I'm not suggesting that you do (make it a thought experiment) that homosexuality is not "objectively disordered" or "intrinsically evil" but naturally occurring, what would you say to those people who have the natural desire to love someone of the same sex and to create a family, but who are excluded by civil law from doing so?  The recent court decisions saying that civil unions are not enough, that the right protected is for marriage with all its numerous civil privileges, seem to be flowing from a theory of equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.  The 14th Amendment makes no distinction between persons.  It may take awhile for popular opinion to catch up, but interracial marriage followed the same arc from the 1920s to today, punctuated by the Supreme Court's 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case ending restrictive laws. At the peak in the 1930s, there were about the same number of states prohibiting interracial marriage as have enshrined traditional marriage in their state constitutions today (which is what Archbishop Nienstedt encourages for Minnesota).  If same-sex marriage evolves the same way, the Church could continue to maintain its teaching, but it would be one more point of cognitive dissonance between traditional Catholics and people who might be described as the new Gentiles of civil society.
12 years 11 months ago

Working to protect the special nature of the marriage of one man and one women as the basis of a healthy society is not scapegoating.  I suggest you read a bit more from Rene Girard if you are going to use the term.

The scapegoat here is actually the Church and she is being attacked for merely explaining the facts of natural law and the foundations of civilized society.  These attacks are coming from those who want radical reordering of the notion of culture and community.

This is not about protecting an individual with same sex attractions - it is about a grand reordering and destroying of culture and, in this process, the minorities who defend culture (Catholic or Mormons etc.) will be attacked and demonized in the process. 
12 years 11 months ago
"Our divine Saviour, when about to send His apostles into the world, made them a threefold recommendation: first, they should be like the salt of the earth, to stem the tide of corruption and vice; secondly, they should shine forth as being the light of the world, to illumine those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; thirdly, they should be like a city built upon the mountain top, to attract the wayfarer to its walls.
This recommendation applies alike to the priests of the New Covenant who are the successors of the apostles. The Catholic priest should, by the purity and sanctity of his life, prevent the spread of immorality and ungodliness; he should enlighten by the splendor of his doctrine those who lie in ignorance and error; he should, by his good example, show men the true way to heaven".

I would ask the Jesuits at America Magazine, who permit postings of this sort,  to consider the wisdom of their confrere Fr. Hardon SJ.
12 years 11 months ago
Ed - I see the evil in the examples you cite.  And I would hope that a conservative legislature would start to take steps to reverse such evils, starting with repeal of no-fault divorce laws and other legislation that leaves children without moms and dads.  Not the topic that will get voters to the polls, though, so I wouldn't support the DVD.

I've nothing against gay priests, and I suspect most people don't.  If there are rampant homosexual acts in the seminaries, then there's an internal problem that the Church needs to address.  Recall, though, that I see the DVDs as a political tool to elect conservative legislators, not as condemnation announcements by the Church to render judgment against sinners.

Steve - The exact percentage is unknown, but if the percentage was 100%, I suspect that most people would be mildly surprised that it was that high.  And the rest would act like Claude Rains in Casablanca.
ed gleason
12 years 11 months ago
Brett stop telling me and others we are attacking the Church. I have pointed out that A/B Nienstedt has blacked out Lay Catholic marriage ministries from his website while spending 100s of thousands trying to stop same sex marriages in the basements of city hall. There is No attack on the Church unless you identify each bishop as the Church. The last famous 'Defender of the Faith'  was Henry VIII. You suggest I read a book. I suggest you affirm Vat II.  
12 years 11 months ago
2 brief responses to Steve Schewe's points:

1. As a conservative one thing I certainly do is reject most of the 14th Amendment jurisprudence, as it has been the cause of much mischief in this area.  I do not believe that the 14th Amendment ought to be applied far outside of the area of race, which was its intended target, and hence the Court's interracial marriage jurisprudence is well-grounded.  There is 1 significant difference bn the same sex and interracial marriage arguments.  The 14th Amendment has been too easily invoked by federal judges to un-do what large marjorities have enacted into law, including same sex marriage amendments.  So you'll get no sympathy from me invoking the 14th Amendment.

2. The 14th Amendment notwithstanding, another crucial difference between interracial and same sex marriage is, of course, sex.  You could argue from a natural law perspective that race is somewhat irrelevant with respect to the nature & essence of marriage; the gender of the persons is an entirely different matter, of course.  Thus, I do not believe it is inconsistent to support bans on same sex marriage but to support interracial marriages.  totally different enchillada.

And thanks for recognizing the validity of the point; it doesn't happen too often on here.
12 years 11 months ago
PS - STILL waiting on Mr. O'Loughlin to tip his hat to those conservatives who supported Keith Olbermann, as he said he would!
Dennis McGrath
12 years 11 months ago
When I went to Journalism School, we learned first and foremost to check our facts before writing - a lesson Mr. O'Laughlin might find worthwhile.  He writes about the "hundreds of thousands" the Bishops of Minnesota spent to produce and send a DVD in defense of traditional marriage to Minnesota Catholics.  In fact, the Archdiocese and the other dioceses spent not one red cent on this campaign.  It was totally paid for by private donors who stepped forward.  And they were NOT political donors.  As for how it affected our social welfare contributions?  It affected them not a whit.  The Archdiocese and its affiliated associations are the laregest single non governmental funder of social welfare in the Twin Cities - shelters, housing, food shelves, clinics, pre natal counseling, job assistance, etc..  Last year alone, those contributions exceeded $3 million.  Next time might we expect a call first, especially from a Catholic periodical as significant as AMERICA before you make your indictments.  Oh, and by the way, to make the assumption that "most Catholics" know same sex marriage is not condoned by the Church is another sweeping generalization.  The mail and emails we've received have demonstsrated that is NOT the case and many have thanked us for the instruction. 
Colleen Baker
12 years 11 months ago
Dennis perhaps you should let everyone know that you are Archbishop Neinstedt's official spokesman.  That's not completely evident from your comment.

Speaking for myself, while your statement that not one red cent was spent by the Archdiocese or any other diocese on this DVD, and I believe that's true, this still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It appears that the Archdiocese is for sale to conservative political PAC's under the guise of Catholic teaching.  For instance, I have my doubts that Archbishop Neinstedt would allow for a DVD produced entirely by Michael Moore which outlined the Church's objections to the Iraq war to be mailed under his name and office. 

On a good note, I actually appreciate this kind of propaganda because it forces Catholics to look at this issue, and more and more Catholics are coming to the conclusion that civil marriage is a civil right, and Sacramental marriage is the Church's business. 

By the way, if the Archbishop truly thinks God will send a mother to hell for loving her child then perhaps the Archbishop needs to look closer at the New Testament.
Stuart Breaux
12 years 11 months ago
First of all, Colleen, the Archbishop did not say that the mother would go to hell for loving her daughter.  Let's use divorce, something Jesus condemned on multiple occasions, for example:  If this mother had a daughter who, instead of being a lesbian, wished to get divorced so that she could remarry someone else (assume there were no grounds for annulment).  The Archbishop would not have the mother hate her child, or shun her child.  My guess is that such action would be sinful in itself.  No, loving her daughter would be required.  What would be prohibited, however, would be her supporting her daughter's actions.  I'm beginning to see why the Archbishop felt the need to send these DVDs out. 
Marie Rehbein
12 years 11 months ago
People will probably be offended, but it looks to me like needing to be able to marry is a stage that people who are gay are going through.  Eventually, as we all know, if they had society's approval or even expectation that they should marry, they, like many heterosexual couples, would bridle and say that they are not the marrying kind.
Jim McCrea
12 years 11 months ago
The only reason LGBT people "need to marry" is to have access to federal and state benefits, rights and responsibilities that accrue to that particular status.  These are secular benefits and do not need approval of any religious groups.

Otherwise, we do NOT (repeat, do NOT) need the approval of church nor state when it comes to the rightness of our relationships.

The success of my 38 years with my partner has not resulted from any help from Unholy "Mother" the Former Church or the state or federal governments.
Marie Rehbein
12 years 10 months ago

Having watched this video, I am struck by the lack of substantiation for the various claims about how gay marriage in society would impact children.  People throughout history have grown up with less than ideal parental arrangements.  One that jumps into my mind is the instance of a parent being deployed overseas for extended periods.  This is not only accepted, but lauded.

Furthermore, if there is such concern for what will be taught in public schools, why doesn't the Church work on expanding its school system instead of shutting schools down and putting the money into trying to impose its perspective on secular society?

The legal issues are more complicated than the video makes them.  The Catholic adoption agencies did place children with gay couples until gay marriage became an issue.  The fact that churches are permitted to perform the civil function of presiding at weddings, does not mean that churches are required to preside over any and every wedding.  I am sure that the Catholic Church's representatives, from time to time, decline to preside over the weddings of some heterosexual couples.

In other words, I may have a more conservative attitude about this subject than gay people do, but the video itself turns me toward a more liberal postion.  I doubt that this is the kind of influence it is intended to have.
Marie Rehbein
12 years 10 months ago
David, if it wasn't meant for someone like me, then who was it meant for?  If I lived in that diocese would I not have received something like this in the mail or been handed one on my way out of church?

I was in Massachusetts when the first case regarding gay marriage was brought before a court.  The argument was, like Jim above makes, that gay partnerships were in every meaningful way the same as marriages except for the recognition given marriage by the state and subsequent economic and social benefits accruing to a state recognized marriage.  They made a long, specific list of these benefits.

In my opinion, there was one significant difference that the court chose to overlook, and that was the initial reason that the institution of marriage was established, which was to keep track of who was responsible for the children.  It seemed obvious to me that unless a union was likely to lead to the birth of children, there was no compelling reason to place it in the category of marriage.

I felt that the benefits that accrued to married couples could be duplicated for other types of unions, such as between two men, two women, siblings who continued to share a home in adulthood, people who were beyond their childbearing years, a household of a parent with an adult child, etc.  And, not only that, but these situations, not needing to concern themselves with naturally occurring offspring, could have essentially the same benefits but tailored more specifically to their needs so as to exempt them from some things, like inheritance laws, for example.

However, the focus was all on the benefits and not at all on the responsibilities, and so the court saw no difference, given that the parties were "in love" and most likely engaged in sexual activity with one another as a result.  I cannot imagine that the Catholic Church would ever not have a problem with gay marriage.  However, from my perspective, it should limit its opposition to refusing to be an agent of the state in performing gay weddings.
12 years 11 months ago
Since I have already been called obstinate on there tonight, might as well reply ;) 

This is a false choice; Catholics have an obligation to support the poor AND defend a well ordered society that focuses on supporting natural families and the special place they have in society.  In fact, without a correctly ordered community, it becomes impossible to serve the vulnerable.

A good example of the attack on traditional values and churches that is a result of homosexual marriage laws can be seen in D.C., where a similar law passed and, as a result, Catholic Charities was shut out of all city contracts and had to close shelters, soup kitchens etc. because it would not violate Catholic morality as demanded by the pro-homosexual city govt.  The same happened in Boston, with the closure of all Catholic adoptive services.

In order to serve the poor, we need to promote an a society that adheres to natural law and logic and is not inherently anti-religious as many of the proponets of homosexual marriage seem to be.

Here is Benedict on this issue from Sagrada Famalia:

"protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure."

12 years 11 months ago
"and others may disagree strongly"

Shouldn't the Bishops care about the souls of these Catholics who are so misguided?  Or are their souls not worth the "precious resources" of the Catholic Church?
ed gleason
12 years 11 months ago
Please do not conclude that the Archbishop of Minneapolis St Paul supports Christian marriage because he sends out a DVD about secular gay marriages happening in the basement of City hall. His diocesan website has a Marriage Office section. That Marriage office has links to 83 different sites about marriage. Mostly Vatican papers. There is No No   link to the most popular Catholic marriage ministries in the USA. i.e  Marriage Encounter; neither National or World Wide , no Catholic Engaged Encounter and no Retrouvaille [for troubled marriages] Why his concern for secular events in City Hall and at the same time watch Catholic church marriages decline over 50 %?? One reason is that he can't control the Catholic lay ministries as he would like. So he blacks them out. We sho?u?l?d? ?b?e? ?a?s?k?i?n?g? ?h?i?m? ?..?  ?w?h?a?t? is his plan to change the growing case?s of t?he younger generation of Catholics feel?i?n?g they do not have to please grandma and mother in a church wedding. ,,? ?so they? opt out of church weddings? if they get married at? ?a?l?l????.? ?????????Y?o?u?r? ??E?x?c?e?l?l?a?n?c?y?,?  ??H?o?m???o?p?h?o?b?i?a? ?i?s? ?n?o?t? ???????the??? ?p?l?a?n?.?.?  
12 years 11 months ago
I'm still waiting for Mr. O'Loughling to, in his own words, tip his hat at those conservatives he challenged to defend Keith Olbermann.  At least Keith tipped his hat last night to the National Review for defending him.

And if the money was given by private individuals, shouldn't it be there choice to donate their money to whatever they wish?
Gregory Popcak
12 years 11 months ago
To paraphrase John 12:5  "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?" He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was antagonistic to the Catholic vision of love."

Brett, above, is correct.  The author of this post presents a false dichotomy.  The best cure for poverty (and the vast majority of social ills) is the intact family.  No government program can make up for the lack of a mother and father.

It used to be that marriage was an institution for the good of children.  In the last 40 years the divorce culture has transformed marriage into an institution for the fulfillment of adult desire.  Same sex marriage is simply the coup de grace for an institution that has already been all but executed by the secular culture and religious enablers like Mr. O'Loughlin.  That said, the heart of traditional marriage is still beating-for now.  And , for the good of society, we have an obligation to defend it.
12 years 11 months ago
As the mother of a gay son, I too am moved to tears when I think of the last sentence in the letter she read.... her immortal soul is in danger because she believes that her daughter is living a life of truth. There are things that may put my soul in danger: loving my child openly and wanting him to share the equality that my country offers is not one of them.

I house discarded gay kids. I am on the 8th child this year. These are youth who come out to their parents and are put on the street. These are youth whose parents believe that they are practicing 'true love' by telling their children to be straight or leave. These are children who have no place to go, and with only one exception all have attempted suicide at some point.

My church (the people in the pew, not the hierachy) is beginning to understand, as are the families of gay kids, that we have new realities to deal with. We have children who realize they have a minority orientation long before they have the abiility to deal with possible rejection. I pray that some day my church fathers come out of isolation and talk to us, to our honorable kids, and learn their rhetoric contributes to the pain these kids feel, to the hopelessness that drives a child to suicide.  I look back at what Jesus said about same gender attraction... and use it as my guide. 

And as the wife and mother of KCs, I am truly saddened that we have no other option for insurance at this point, so regrettably, our insurance ''profits'' that I thought went to care for the widows and orphans...instead were spent on to remind folks that our families are not equal.

Eugene Pagano
12 years 11 months ago
It is not the Roman Catholic Church's business whether or not same-gender non-Catholics marry.
Jack Barry
12 years 11 months ago
The most plausible explanation for the frantic opposition to gay marriage is a deep fear in the hierarchy that it would help homosexuality as it exists and is lived come to be viewed by society as less exceptional and abnormal (''disordered'').  The phenomenon of gradually changing views has been observable over the past century with respect to such fundamental human properties as race and religion.  If a similar change in cultural perspectives takes place regarding homosexuality, it will become impossible for the Church authorities to carry on their attempts to conceal the extent and effects of homosexuality in the hierarchy and the priesthood.  Eventual full revelations will damage integrity and credibility more than the unraveling of the priestly sex abuse tradition is doing.  As we have seen there, image overrides morality when sex is involved. 
12 years 11 months ago
"One may rightly wonder what kind of wisdom was at work in spending presumably significant resources on this initiative"

First, "gay marriage" is a contradiction in terms unless it's a lesbian marrying a gay man.  We're talking about changing the definition of marriage.

Second, the wisdom in this initiative is not so much in affirming the Church's well-known official position on the sinfulness of homosexual acts, but in getting conservative candidates - whose influence extends to Catholic issues far beyond  preserving the traditional definition of marriage, but not as controversial - elected.  Like plastering pictures of cancer patients on cigarette packs or showing pictures of aborted fetuses to abortion proponents, visual presentations such as the subject DVD are powerful behavior-changing tools. 

12 years 11 months ago

@Jack said: "... it will become impossible for the Church authorities to carry on their attempts to conceal the extent and effects of homosexuality in the hierarchy and the priesthood."

Ha, ha!  The only thing more commonly known than the Church's position on homosexual acts is that homosexuality is widespread in the priesthood.  Now, if you're suggesting that acceptance of homosexuality will cause homosexual priests to admit to current participation in homosexual acts, then your hypothesis is a little more believable. 

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