I am a product of the last century in which my parents instilled in me respect for other individuals but to be mindful to those in authority.
The Roman Catholic Church was to be revered … a moral compass to guide you during your time on earth.
The Mass was said in Latin … it was an honor to be trained to be an Altar Boy (there were no Altar Girls or Eucharist Lay-Ministers then) and the Pastor would preach that their were others not as fortunate as us … reminding us :
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.
I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
So there would be canned food drives and clothing drives … and once a year, the Pastor would remind us of the financial needs of the parish … and everyone would be given their box of envelopes — adults as well as children.
The message was clear — I would cut the lawn ( a dime for the front yard and a quarter for the back … of course then a Snickers bar was only a nickel ) and every Sunday, I would hand in my envelope just as my parents handed in theirs. I knew the money was going to help our local parish and also helping “the least of these”.
I felt good that I was doing the right thing.
Politics was never discussed … even when John Kennedy was campaigning for President. The Church had its role and at least at my parish, it stayed out of government policies.
Things have evolved … Latin is gone … Altar Girls are common … we shake hands – giving the Sign of Peace – in Church.
Sadly, we know now that certain unthinkable acts were committed by priests … and recently a Kennedy family member was dis-invited after accepting the offer to give the commencement address at Anna Maria College of Paxton, Massachusetts
“As a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the Bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited,” it said in a statement.
“Bishop McManus is acting, he feels, consistently with what all of the U.S. bishops asked colleges or higher institutions to do going back to 2004, that they not honor … Catholics who take a public stance or position on issues contrary to things that the Church is trying to teach,” said Raymond Delisle, a spokesman for the diocese.
And the evolution is continuing … Minnesotans will soon hear about the Marriage Amendment …
Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the political arm of the Catholic Church who leads the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense Fund, a registered ballot lobbying group has reported $750,000 in contributions to the MN Campaign Finance Board at the end of January. He said more contributions are coming.
“It takes money to speak in a democracy, and it takes a lot of it these days,” Adkins said.
The Duluth diocese has contributed $50,000; The New Ulm diocese has given $50,000; and The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis donated $650,000.
Who would have thought that there was that large amount of money would be available to be used for any political purposes ?
Why isn’t that money going to help the “the least of these” … why is that money going to divide us ?
In the past, the Bishops have cautioned voting Catholics against attempts “to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal issues.”
But that is what Minnesota Catholic Conference is doing.
IF they want to express their opinion on the Minnesota Constitutional Amendment, why not at the same time express an opinion on the Voter ID Amendment ?
What about immigration reform, fighting poverty and ending war ?
Why not protest the Ryan Budget plan as Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, CA who chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development did, stating the Republican proposal aims to change the Child Tax Credit to exclude children of immigrant families, “the large majority of whom are American citizens;” impose cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), which would affect all poor families and be “a direct threat to their human dignity“; and cut the Social Services Block Grant, “an important source of funding for programs throughout the country” that serve “the homeless, the elderly, people with disabilities, children living in poverty, and abuse victims.”
Admittedly, the Bishops are entitled to have an opinion but last year, John C. Nienstedt, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, informed all priests that they could not publicly dissent: “There ought not to be open dissention on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly.”
Well, apparently a group representing 80 former priests expressed their opposition to the amendment … current priests have to live in silence.
Three retired priests submitted a Letter to the Editor for publication in the Star-Tribune, but it has been declined (SHAME on the Strib).
Catholics of Minnesota you have a choice!
As you undoubtedly know five months from now voters in Minnesota will be asked to vote on the so-called Marriage Amendment. This vote will allow or deny GLBTQ couples the right to pursue civil protection in their partnerships. This is a vote about who has rights and who does not. It should not be written into such a permanent document as our State Constitution. We are writing in opposition to our Catholic Church’s promotion for Catholics to vote in favor of the amendment.
The Catholic Church’s position on Sacramental marriage is very clear and we agree with that position. However, regarding same-sex unions even the Catholic Hierarchy has members with different views on this issue. The Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn is one who has a different point of view. Here is a quote from another Catholic Archbishop, Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England: “We would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship (and) a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision.” (Press Conference on November 26, 2011 following the English and Welsh Bishops’ Conference Meeting).
Right at home here in our own parishes there are gay-lesbian couples who are strong active and faithful Catholics. These church members are not only our sisters and brothers in Christ, they are the blood relatives of you and me and of large numbers of our parishioners and friends, They need allies.
We, the signers of this letter (and we know that there are many other priests who support this position), are opposed to a Constitutional amendment that would deny rights and privileges to same-gender unions in Minnesota. The so-called “Marriage Amendment” would do just that. We write now to say that there is not just one way for Catholics to vote in November. We ask you to consider voting “No” this November on the Marriage Amendment. We feel that our church is stronger when both sides of an issue are part of the public dialogue. Thank you for your consideration.
Fr. John F. Brandes
Fr. Thomas J. Garvey
Fr. J. Timothy Power
THANK YOU Fathers Brandes, Garvey and Power … you are still preaching the message of Christ.