Friday, June 10, 2011

Minnesota's Archbishop, Marriage, and Getting a Grip

Ideally, I'd have noticed what Archbishop Nienstedt wrote yesterday, when he posted "Marriage amendment deserves our support" on The Catholic Spirit's website.

As it is, I didn't notice until I read this:
"Archbishop Nienstedt offers reasons to back Minn. marriage amendment"
CNA (Catholic News Agency) (January 10, 2011)

"Minnesota's proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman should be passed to help children flourish and to defend God's plan for man and woman, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of Minneapolis and St. Paul says.

" 'The Minnesota Catholic Conference, made up of the seven Catholic bishops from the state, support this amendment not for prejudicial or political reasons, but rather for reasons that are theological, biological and pastoral,' Nienstedt wrote in his June 9 column for The Catholic Spirit...."
I'll get back to why I think Archbishop Nienstedt said he urged "support this amendment not for prejudicial or political1 reasons" later in this post.

If this whole 'support the amendment' thing sounds familiar, it should:
"...While Minnesota law already defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, backers of the amendment say it is needed to prevent marriage from being redefined through lawsuits or legislative action.

"In May the state legislature approved a bill to place the amendment on the 2012 ballot...."

"Not For Prejudicial ... Reasons" - Defensive?

I'll grant that the Minnesota archbishop's assertion that he and his fellow-bishops didn't have "prejudicial or political" motives might seem defensive.

Given American culture, I think folks who say that marriage is supposed to be between members of the same species, but not the same sex, need to explain why they make that assertion. Particularly if 'one of those religious people' makes such a statement.

That's because many Americans apparently aren't closely involved with a church. My guess is that it's fairly easy for many Americans to assume that this is what 'religious' people look like:

Reuters. Nov. 11, 2010: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church hold anti-gay signs at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Veterans Day.
(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

That's what Mr. Phelp's followers were doing at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, 2010.

As I said in another post:
"In my opinion, they're
not your typical Christians."
(January 11, 2011)

What the Archbishop Said: Not What Others Say He Said

I suggest reading all of Archbishop Nienstedt's column in The Catholic Spirit. Here's how it starts:
"Marriage amendment deserves our support"
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, That They May All Be One, The Catholic Spirit (Official Publication of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis) (January 9, 2011)

"Our state House and Senate have placed a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot that will define marriage in the State of Minnesota as the union between one man and one woman.

"Regrettably, the media and some secular commentators have chosen to mischaracterize this measure as anti-gay, mean-spirited and prejudicial. This is not the case or the intent behind the initiative....
One more excerpt, and I'll give my take on marriage, people, and getting a grip.
"...Good reasons

"The Minnesota Catholic Conference, made up of the seven Catholic bishops from the state, support this amendment not for prejudicial or political reasons, but rather for reasons that are theological, biological and pastoral.

"Theologically, the definition of marriage predates any government or religious denomination. As we read in the Bible, it reflects God's plan for man and woman to share in his creative power of bringing new life into the world (Genesis 1:27-28). This is ratified by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:8-9. It is a truth that is also evident in light of the natural moral law, which grounds our understanding of the dignity that belongs to each human person...."
(Archbishop John C. Nienstedt)

I'm Catholic: By Choice

One reason I became a Catholic is that no matter where I dip into official documents of the Catholic Church, what I read is so sincerely unlike what folks of Fred Phelps' ilk say.

Put in a more positive way, the Catholic Church makes sense. Your experience with individual Catholics may vary, of course: with over a billion of us alive at this moment, you're bound to run into a turbo-charged wackadoo now and then.

Loving People - No Matter What

I think one of the problems folks - Catholic and otherwise - have, trying to understand what the Church really says is that "love" isn't "approval." The idea of "loving" someone without showing "approval" of their choices is a trifle counter-cultural, I think. Uncritical consent is sometimes called being "supportive." I've been over this before. (April 26, 2011)

I am not allowed to hate anybody. Myself included. That doesn't mean that I have to be crazy about whatever daft thing I did - or feel an impulse to do. I've posted about that, too. (December 9, 2010)

That Matthew 22:36-40 thing - 'Love God, love your neighbor' - is simple to remember. And, for me, really difficult to actually do consistently.

Voting in 2012

As for wanting to "force my morality" on someone else? I don't. I had to be convinced that what the folks in Congress, or some judge, decide they want "marriage" to mean this year matters to me. (June 23, 2010)

I plan to vote in favor of defining marriage as a sexual bond between a man and a woman - which is not the same as feeling that it's okay to beat somebody up because the person isn't wearing the 'right' clothing. And that, sadly, is not another topic. (April 26, 2011)

Dress Code Violations, Love, and Getting a Grip

I'm not allowed to beat the daylights out of my neighbor because of some dress code violation - that doesn't seem very "loving," does it?

I'm also not allowed to let my neighbor do something self-destructive without at least opining that I don't think it's a good idea.

It's the "friends don't let friends drive drunk" principle - and I've been over that before, too. (April 26, 2011, again)

Which gets me to the notion that the Catholic Church is anti-gay. Again, we're not Fred Phelps' church - and once more, I'm repeating what I've written about before. (March 13, 2009, and see Background, below)

Bottom line? I have to love my neighbor, no matter what. And the Catholic Church has a very broad notion of who my 'neighbor' is. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2196-2246, 2281, 2608, and 2844, for starters)

Related posts:
News and views:
Background, in Catechism of the Catholic Church
(originally posted June 8, 2011):

1 Yes, I know about the pedophile priests.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.