I have watched the DVD sent out by the Minnesota Catholic bishops in favor of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
The premise of the DVD is that same-sex couples and their committed relationships are a grave threat to marriage. To be clear, these bishops hold that sacramental Catholic marriage is in essence different from what is considered marriage by society. Nevertheless, the bishops claim they have a concern for marriage in the overall society.
What are the real threats to marriage? The Sept. 29 story “Economy is Hitting Hearts and Wallets,” about the effects of our current economy on marriage, said that “being broke and unemployed is not conducive to matrimony, young Americans are finding. In 2009, the number of young adults (25-34) who have never tied the knot surpassed those who had married for the first time since data collection began more than a century ago.”
In every serious study, poverty is the top reason for marital breakdowns. It is very hard to make the case that a small percentage of the population who bond with members of their own sex and seek to live in a committed relationship could have anything but a positive effect on the general population’s appreciation of stable, faithful, life-giving unions.
The very thoughtful letters to the editor about this subject reflect the fact that Catholics have very diverse opinions about this issue. The bishops themselves are not united on how to approach this new reality of gays and lesbians claiming a right to have their own families publicly recognized with corresponding rights and responsibilities.
Since arriving in Minnesota as a bishop in 2001, Nienstedt has had the constitutional amendment as a priority. In 2006, he promoted postcards, which as archbishop he has upgraded to DVDs. I do not believe any of our other bishops would have been on such a crusade. “Minnesota nice,” if not prudence, would have prevailed. Ask them privately.
Just recently the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, the main author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and friend of the pope, publicly stated that the church needs to look differently at committed same-sex relationships. His fellow Austrian bishops concurred. These are thinking, serious church leaders. They listen.
The constitutional amendment being promoted by the archbishop does not allow even for civil unions, and it would limit current rights enjoyed by our gay and lesbian citizens. We as Catholics can have our own beliefs about marriage. But we must recognize that people of other faiths and of no faith have conscientious beliefs as well.
Most scandalous is that Archbishop Nienstedt has compromised his office with the use of anonymous money to fund this effort. The constitutional amendment is a very political issue. The impression is given that political funding is at work here.
– Pastor Michael Tegeder
Church of St. Edward, Bloomington