Thursday, April 05, 2012

"Come On, Ethel, We're Leaving!"

I'm sure you've heard the story. It's making all the rounds.

As part of his efforts to drum up support for the so-called "marriage amendment," Archbishop Nienstedt has been sending a team comprised of a priest and a married couple to all the local Catholic high schools. The schools, in turn, have been mandated to allow this team to make a presentation ostensibly in support of the Catholic understanding of sacramental marriage but also aimed at demeaning civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Well, it appears that at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, the Archbishop's "marriage" team got more than it bargained for. According to a Star Tribune article by Jon Tevlin, a number of students challenged what the presenters had to say about single parents, adopted kids, and gay marriage.

Apparently, the situation became so volatile that the presenters were forced to cut their presentation short and make for the nearest exit!

As the title of this post attests, I find this aspect of the incident rather amusing. Yet, make no mistake about it, there's also a profoundly disturbing and truly scandalous aspect to what transpired at DeLaSalle. And, no, I'm not talking about the actions of the students but rather the uninformed and insensitive perspectives shared by the "official" representatives of the Archdiocese.

In the following statement issued earlier today by Catholics for Marriage Equality MN you'll get a sampling of these perspectives, as well as C4ME-MN;s chosen response to them.

Catholics for Marriage Equality MN is proud of the seniors at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis who stood up and spoke on behalf of all loving families, including single-parent and same-sex couple households. These students offered a Gospel counterpoint to the erroneous and profoundly insulting comments of Archdiocesan representatives who, in a recent presentation at the school, equated same-sex commitment and love to bestiality and called single-parent families “less than” two parent families. Catholics for Marriage Equality MN board member Brent Vanderlinden, father of a gay son, remarked, “I hope all Minnesota Catholics will be inspired by these high school seniors to stand with our gay, lesbian and transgender families and friends in the face of this kind of public bullying.”

We call on Archbishop Nienstedt to pull these presenters from any further speaking engagements in Catholic high schools, and to apologize to the Church in the Archdiocese and to those attending the DeLaSalle meeting for the hurtful statements made.

We call on all Catholics to continue the witness of these young people by participating in a powerful music video event on April 28th. Join a church full of Catholics to sing the hymn “For All the Children” in a videotaped performance. More information click here.

There's also an excellent letter-to-the-editor published in today's Star Tribune. It's reprinted in its entirety below.

How far from decency can religious fundamentalism go? First we hear Catholic presidential candidate Rick Santorum declare same-sex unions akin to bestiality.

Now we learn that representatives of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis not only agree but also pronounce adopted children to be defective – "sociologically unstable," to be specific.

Amid concerns about whether our schoolchildren are being sufficiently prepared, I was heartened to read that pupils at the Catholic high school are quite capable of exercising intelligent and compassionate spunk and do not hesitate to question blind adherence to religious dogma.

The archdiocese's agenda was transparent even to relatively unsophisticated high-school seniors. Using a final opportunity to indoctrinate new voters via a mandatory school assembly, the archdiocese hoped to push through the proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to same-sex unions.

I applaud these students for the courage it takes to search out their personal truth in the face of unfriendly "authority."

– Shawn Gilbert

Recommended Off-site Links:
DeLaSalle Kids Have a Few Words with Archdiocese at Marriage Talk – Jon Tevlin (Star Tribune, April 3, 2012).
Minnesota Catholic Students Angry About Mandatory Anti-Gay Lecture – John Becker (The Huffington Post, April 4, 2012).
DeLeSalle Student, During Anti-Gay School Assembly, Holds Up Sign: "I Love My Moms" – Aaron Rupar (City Pages, April 4, 2012).
Gay Marriage Doesn't Harm Children, But the Facts Don't Seem to Matter – Nathaniel Frank (Slate, March 7, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Archbishop Nienstedt's Anti-Gay Activism
A Head and Heart Response to the Catholic Hierarchy's Opposition to Marriage Equality
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
A Catholic Statement of Support for Marriage Equality
Sharing the Good News of Marriage Equality at the Basilica Block Party
Palm Sunday at the Chancery

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