Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Minnesota Bishops' Last Ditch Effort

I’m quoted in a Minnesota Independent article today about the renewed campaign by some of Minnesota’s Roman Catholic bishops to prevent same-sex civil marriage becoming legal in Minnesota.

The article also acknowledges the October 21 event that the
Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities – the organization I work for – is planning so as to counter this campaign. It's a campaign that many people - Catholics included - see as misguided, unnecessary, and non-reflective of the justice, compassion, and inclusivity at the heart of Jesus' life and message.

As I note in the article, I believe that in many ways what the bishops are doing can be seen as a last ditch effort to try and get Catholics to vote against the pro-gay marriage candidates (including for governor) in the upcoming November elections.

Interestingly, according to, the expression "last ditch effort" means a "desperate final attempt." It alludes to the military sense of last ditch, "the last line of defense," and its figurative use dates from the early 1800s. Given that those Catholics who oppose marriage equality see themselves as waging a war against evil in their defense of so-called "traditional marriage," I guess my use of this term is appropriate!


Catholic Bishops Preparing Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign
in Minnesota

By Andy Birkey
The Minnesota Independent
September 15, 2010

Some of Minnesota’s Catholic bishops are preparing a push against the legalization of same-sex marriage in the final two months of the 2010 campaign season. So far, most Minnesota bishops are not making their plans public, but Bishop John Quinn of the Winona Diocese gave parishioners a glimpse in a recent newsletter (PDF). “The bishops of Minnesota are alarmed by the continuing attacks on the institution of marriage, and we are taking action,” he wrote.

Quinn reports that the diocese is sending parishes a DVD that provides “more detail about the Church’s teaching on marriage and about the possible effects that a same sex marriage policy would have in our state.”

Traditional marriage is suffering attacks, he wrote, and “the most threatening now are efforts to legalize ’same sex’ or ‘gay’ marriage, that is, marriage between two men or between two women.”

He adds, “I hope that you will become one of the thousands of Catholics who have contacted legislators and told them that marriage is a lifetime relationship between one man and one woman.”

The effort is part of a larger campaign by Minnesota’s Roman Catholic bishops. While the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hasn’t yet responded to the Minnesota Independent’s query about its plans for the campaign, it did offer some hints to Divinity and Beyond, a Minnesota blog about religion.

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Diocese said, “The details are yet to be firmed up. I don’t want to talk about it just yet. This is still kind of taking shape.”

Michael Bayly of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, a group working to reform the Roman Catholic Church so that it is more inclusive of LGBT Catholics, said the campaign isn’t a shock.

“I’m not surprised that the Minnesota Roman Catholic bishops are planning an anti-marriage equality campaign,” he said. “The good news is that unlike five years ago, they’re now on the defensive, not the offensive.”

He said the bishops are reacting to marriage equality legislation in the last legislative session and the possibility of Minnesotans electing a governor who supports same-sex marriage. DFLer Mark Dayton and Independence party candidate Tom Horner support it, while GOPer Tom Emmer is opposed.

“Marriage equality is coming to Minnesota, and they’re clearly not happy about it,” added Bayly. “In many ways I see what they’re doing as a last ditch effort to try and get Catholic voters to turn the election away from a win for the Democrats and thus marriage equality.”

He said his group is already working on an event that will run counter to those efforts. CPCSM is bringing in Daniel Maguire, author of “Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage,” to the Twin Cities on Oct. 21. The event aims to “get the word out that one can be Catholic and support marriage equality, and not all Catholics are going along with the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality rhetoric and actions of the bishops,” he said.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis brought in Maggie Gallagher earlier this year to discuss strategies for opposing gay marriage. Gallagher is a founder of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has targeted Minnesota extensively in 2010.

And last week, Archbishop John Neinstedt renewed his call for an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

“As a citizen, it is important to understand how marriage, as a union between one man and one woman, has been and continues to be an essential good for our society,” he wrote.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Minnesota Catholics For, Against Gay Marriage – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, September 15, 2010).
If I Could Have a Conversation with the Archbishop – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice, May 8, 2010).
Two Catholic Bishops, Conscience, and the Common Good – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice, June 14, 2009).
Dialoging with the Bishop The Progressive Catholic Voice (January 1, 2009).
A Defense of Same-Sex Marriage – Daniel Maguire (Catholics for Marriage Equality, February 3, 2010).
Do Religions Reject Gay Marriage? – Daniel Maguire (, August 18, 2010).
Young Catholics Will Change the Church on Gay Rights – Michael A. Jones (, September 15, 2010).

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
A Message for NOM
Archbishop Nienstedt Calls (Again) for a Marriage Amendment to Minnesota’s Constitution
Archbishop Nienstedt’s Unconvincing Argument
Archbishop Nienstedt Has It Wrong
Distinguishing Between Roman Catholic Theology and Civil Law in the Struggle for Marriage Equality
Dale Carpenter on the “Win-Win” Reality of Gay Marriage
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Minnesotans Rally for Equality and Love at the State Capitol
A Catholic Voice for Marriage Equality at the State Capitol


kevin57 said...

God bless you on your efforts, Michael.

What would be interesting to investigate is just how far the bishops' crusade will go. For instance, I would imagine--but reserve judgment for further information--that the same candidate(s) who would oppose same sex marriage would oppose the Church on a host of other issues (e.g., more just wages). That would be telling of where their REAL priorities lie.

Mareczku said...

I think the bishops are overstepping their bounds by trying to change the state constitution. They should not have this power over non-Catholics. Archishop Neinstedt's comment, "Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination." Are gay people considered different things here? This statement sounds dehumanizing to me. It appears that Archbishop Neinstedt and some other bishops just want gay people out of the Church. What are the thoughts of gay priests on this?

Joan said...

Michael, you are such an articulate spokesperson! You always sound much more reasonable and sane than those speaking from the other side.

Laura said...

The article's also linked to "The Morning Report" at the National Catholic Reporter today. Way to go, Michael!

Phyllis said...

Thank you, Michael, for speaking out for us. See you Saturday at the Synod.