A Minnesota archbishop, and central figure behind Minnesota’s anti-gay marriage amendment, once told the mother of a gay child to renounce her son’s homosexuality or risk going to hell, whereby he also compared his “hard saying” to the teachings of Jesus.
The letter, by Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt, was reportedly written as a response to a mother pleading for acceptance for her gay child.
In Niensted’s reply, a copy of which you can see here, he writes:
I am in receipt of your recent letter objecting to the article that I submitted to the Star Tribune on April 28, 2010. I write to inform you that the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, as described in paragraphs 2357 and 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is rooted in Scripture and based on the Natural Moral Law. It, therefore, shares in God’s revelation to us. Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching. Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
Indeed, some might find this a hard saying but many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such. I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed in your letter. Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.
That Archbishop Nienstedt apparently seems comfortable in comparing himself to Jesus while at the same time threatening a woman who may sincerely now believe that she risks eternal damnation for refusing to abandon her gay son, is profoundly monstrous.
It also shows a willingness to wage spiritual warfare that, if the moniker is to mean anything good at all, aught to define Nienstedt, and any who might choose to use such tactics, out of laying claim to the word Christian. It isn’t, however, out of the ordinary for this particular archbishop.
The letter has received renewed attention after the Star Tribune this week issued a profile on Nienstedt and the incredible way in which he has used his position to marshal religious support for passing a constitutional amendment to enshrine Minnesota’s same-sex marriage ban, a question Minnesota voters will face at the ballot in November.
While I urge you to read the full, illuminating piece, not least of which because it exposes the possibility that Nienstedt’s crusade may be as much a career move as it is a so-called moral position, the following excerpt relates in concrete terms just how powerful Nienstedt has been in using his religious privilege to manipulate believers in Minnesota into joining the fray against the “threat” of same-sex marriage:
Working aggressively behind the scenes, the 65-year-old Nienstedt has emerged as a key financial and political force for passage of the marriage amendment, which will be on the Nov. 6 ballot and is the most contentious issue in the state this election season.
He has committed more than $650,000 in church money, stitched together a coalition of leaders from other faiths and exerted all his power within the church to press Minnesota’s million-plus Catholics to back him.
“We wouldn’t have gotten very far without him,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group pushing the amendment. “What the archbishop is doing in Minnesota is what the pope asked him to do. It’s hard to overstate his importance.”
This, of course, makes unquestionable that Nienstedt’s use of his position transcends enshrining Minnesota’s gay marriage ban. This exposes a disdain for the separation of Church and State that is entirely chilling.
Chilling, in fact, is a wholly appropriate word given that the Star Tribune has also spoken to those who allege Nienstedt is not above silencing dissenting priests, of which there have apparently been many, with an order of obedience.
But let every Catholic, every person in fact who might be sitting on the fence regarding Minnesota’s gay marriage ban, remember the archbishop’s words to that particular mother:
“Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.”
Such a callous threat which exposes the heartlessness, indeed the ugliness, behind Minnesota’s anti-gay marriage amendment.
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