In 2012, Minnesotans will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would officially define marriage as an institution between one man and one women.
If passed, Article XIII will be amended to include, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.” Gay marriage advocates are less than content with this proposal.
The Catholic Church, which has always taken a strong stance against same-sex marriage, is getting heavily involved in the contentious debate over this controversial constitutional change.
The Church is throwing its weight behind the proposal, with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis planning to create committees in every Minnesota Catholic church in an effort to rally support for the marriage definition. The Minnesota Independent has more:
Archbishop John Nienstedt sent a letter to every priest in the state at the start of October urging them to put every Catholic church in Minnesota tow work passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. [...]
The archbishop said it wants priests in every parish to identify a “church captain” in order to create an “ad hoc committee” in every church in the state. [...]
These committees, as well as the church's general stance on same sex marriage, are creating angst in the Catholic community, as some express support for the doctrine-based measures, while others lament the Church's refusal to support gay marriages.
Freedom to Marry is only one of many groups speaking out against these committees and against the Church's stance as a whole. The organization is planning a counter campaign and here's how they're characterizing the situation:
Minnesota bishops have just taken the unusual step of urging parish priests across the state to form committees to help pass the proposed anti-marriage amendment in 2012. This isn't the first time we've faced a multi-million dollar campaign funded by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to ban the freedom to marry.
Brian Cahill, the former executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, has published some harsh words for the church as well. He writes:
I am the father of a gay son, and I may not be objective, but I would suggest to the 30 or 40 bishops who might be willing to stand up that they could apologize for the disrespect our church has shown to gays and lesbians, sometimes blatant, sometimes nuanced, but always felt, and for the pain intentionally or otherwise inflicted on gays and lesbians by church teaching and how it has been presented.
I know they took a specific oath that locks them into loyalty and obedience. But no oath to the church requires them to ignore the harsh, disrespectful language our church uses. No oath requires them to gloss over the dichotomy between showing compassion and respect for gays and lesbians and at the same time condemning them for acting on who they are. No oath requires them to pretend that the "compassion and respect" component of the teaching does not take a distant second place to the condemnation.
Clearly, the arguments coming out against the church and its stance on marriage are strong-worded (many are citing newfound statistics that show a minority of Catholics opposing gay marriage as a corroboratory note). But others are supportive of the church's official teachings on marriage. Catholic League president Bill Donohue is defending Nienstedt and the call to stand up for the marriage amendment.
"The reason why Minnesotans will vote next year on the issue of a constitutional amendment affirming marriage, traditionally understood, is due to attempts to reconfigure this ancient social institution," Donohue writes. "For example, people excluded by nature from procreating are currently demanding the right to marry, winning sympathy in some courts."
Catholics like Donohue believe that Nienstedt is doing the right thing by holding up Biblical views on marriage. And he's not alone. Those who remain true to the Church's views will likely push forward in helping to promote the amendment.