Friday, January 6, 2012
As many people doubtless are aware, there will be an amendment on the ballot in Minnesota this November to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Minnesotans appear to be deeply divided on the issue; a poll conducted in November found 48 percent of Minnesotans in favor and 43 percent opposed to it.
In the Twin Cities, Archbishop Neinstedt has been strongly supporting the amendment. In October 2010 he sent a video to all Catholic households in Minnesota advocating for the amendment. (Rob discussed reaction to that here.) Over the past several months he has taken a number of steps, including directing parishes to appoint committees to garner support for the initiative and proposing a prayer to be read at all masses for the passage of the amendment.
Most recently, the Archbishop sent a letter to the priests and deacons of the Archdiocese reiterating the importance of supporting the amendment and stating his expectation that priests and deacons who have personal reservations on the issue not express those publicly. In relevent part it reads:
It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.
Not surprisingly, there has been some criticism of the Archbishop's letter to priests and deacons. Whatever else one thinks, the reference to ordination vows to defend Church teaching equates one's position on whether the State constitution should be amended with Church doctrine. Church teaching on marriage is clear, but is it really self-evident that whether the state constitution be amended is a matter of Church doctrine?