Monday, September 03, 2012

Nienstedt puts pressure on the "Lavender Palace"?

Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, MN

Really?  Is that what the Archbishop really said or did?

I sincerely doubt any spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis would ever refer to the Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese as the 'lavendar palace'.  The Basilica of St. Mary is a Roman Catholic 'temple' of pontifical privilege, consecrated to the Mother of God - it is sacred ground.  Along with the Catholic tabloid site Pewsitters,  Michael Brown of Spirit Daily irreverently and inaccurately headlines a story which purports to speak for the Archdiocese of MPLS/STP denigrating one of the Archbishop's churches - his Co-Cathedral no less - and interpreting the Archbishop's words of pastoral guidance as if they were canonical disciplinary actions against one of the area parishes.  That is not what the Archbishop said or did.

A week ago, Archbishop Nienstedt requested priests and deacons that his homily be read at all the Masses - there was no mandate or obligation - it was optional.  Evidently 15 to 17 parishes declined the invitation or ignored the request.  The homily was read at my parish and afterwards, I requested a copy from our chancery.  The Archbishop's assistant emailed the document promptly.  I thought what the Archbishop had to say was very good, very clear and instructive, if not persuasive.  An excerpt of the homily here:
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 way we know the Archbishop speaks with love, with charity, is by what he says next:
“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. (CCC) 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.”

Archbishop Nienstedt
THE moral authority

Moreover, although not included in the MinnPost article, the Archbishop made the statement that, "Just as some misread the intention of upholding traditional marriage, so some hear these words (Archbishop's emphasis) about compassion and respect for persons with same sex attraction also as a thinly veiled code suggesting compromised teaching and a weak position.  But both are  the teaching of Christ, who indeed calls us to love one another as he loves us..." Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2012  (My copy arrived as a pdf* and so I cannot copy and paste the contents.)

However, "whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver."

Evidently other parishioners did not agree, and one local news site told of people walking out when the homily was read - at my parish, no less.  No one walked out of the Mass I attended.  No one held back at the end of Mass to protest to the pastor - that I am aware of.  Therefore I consider the walk-out stories to be hearsay - picked up from Facebook and taken at face value by a former parishioner of a formerly liberal parish in Downtown Minneapolis, some readers will know him as Michael Bayly, a gay-activist Catholic who seems to be part of an alternative CINO-parish to the now stable parish he once attended.
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. - MinnPost

Half a dozen - six people.  If it happened at all, no wonder I didn't notice - it's a big church.

Dissent and dissenters... discrediting the Archbishop.

The brouhaha has been exacerbated by those folks who only heard of the homily as a result of what has been communicated through the online grapevine, or finding the text inserted in the most recent bulletin from their churches - as was the case with those few from the Basilica who made their objections known.  These folks already know the position of the Church as taught by the Archbishop, yet they've taken his words out of context and appropriated negative meanings to what he said.  Furthermore, vigilante defenders of the faith take it upon themselves to embroil the conflict with their own volatile rhetoric, which does nothing to help an already sensitive situation.

I do not ever propose to speak for the Archbishop or interpret his actions according to my own opinion, but I am saddened that political zealots in the archdiocese manage to do so and get Catholic and non-Catholic news sites to publish their rhetoric and fuel the fire of vindictiveness and divisiveness.  One should always look to the official publications of the Archdiocese issued by the local ordinary for exactly what is being said and what it means.  The Pope and Bishops in communion with him do not speak in riddles that we have to interpret or to speculate as to what is being written between the lines.  The sections of the secular article linked to in this post are biased interpretations of what the Archbishop has been doing and teaching.  Archbishop Nienstedt is in fact offering pastoral guidance for his flock which is being harassed and confused, if not dispersed on account of lay people purporting to speak in the name of the Catholic Church - or worse - translating what the Archbishop is really saying and doing.

In the past, in this Archdiocese some self-styled Catholic defenders have gone so far as to attempt to exorcise and re-consecrate Church property they considered defiled by "sodomite clergy" and "Gomorrah-ist" infiltrators.  (Their words.)  They do not represent the Church any more than I do.  The appropriate, and above all, competent authority is always the Archbishop and those priests and deacons in communion with him - those authorized to speak in his name.  Not me or any other blogger or any so-called Catholic news portals devoted to sensationalizing Catholic news stories for profit and gain.

Always - if you have questions regarding Church teaching seek answers from the appropriate authorities in direct contact with the Archbishop.  Call your chancery.

*Scanned copy of Archbishop's Homily quoted in post.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent, Terry! I doubt that he attends many Masses any more; He hasn't been at the last two Pentecost Sundays at the Cathedral. He is more likely to be seen at the First Christian Church on First Ave. S. where the St. Stephen's apostates went, the Prospect Park United Methodist Church where Dignity meets, or the Spirit of the Lakes U.C.C. at 40th & 38th Ave S down by me.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.