We already reported on the news that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul, Minnesota, is requiring the archdiocesan priests not to speak out in support of marriage equality. A news story in this past weekend’s Minneapolis Star Tribune uses Nienstedt’s directive as its lead, but it goes a little further than that by telling the story of one courageous priest who is speaking out, despite the archbishop’s gag order:
“One vocal critic of Nienstedt is the Rev. Mike Tegeder, who spoke against the amendment at a priests’ meeting with Nienstedt in October.
“In November, Tegeder received a letter stating that if he did not end his public opposition, Nienstedt would suspend his “faculties to exercise ministry” and remove him from his “ministerial assignments.”
“Marking the first clear standoff over the church’s role in the amendment, Tegeder is not backing down.
“He said he believes the church is being too political and contends that it’s inappropriate for its leaders to campaign in support of the amendment.
” ‘That’s not the way to support marriage,’ said Tegeder, pastor at both St. Frances Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri churches in Minneapolis. ‘If we want to support marriage, there are wonderful things we can do as Catholic churches and ministers. We should not be focused on beating up a small number of people who have this desire to have committed relationships.’ “
You can read more about Fr. Tegeder in a National Catholic Reporter article from October 2010, when he first spoke out against the anti-marriage equality DVD campaign which Nienstedt led.
During a very critical time in the church in Minnesota, Fr. Tegeder exemplifies the best of prophetic witness. He deserves our prayers and support. I hope that his example will encourage other priests and church leaders to speak of their support for marriage equality. Silencing has no place in a church whose founder and model is described as the Word of God.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry