On Gay Marriage, Richfield Catholic Parishes of One Mind
Richfield Patch continues its series on the anti-gay marriage amendment and how it is being addressed at local churches.
Prior to the November 2012 general election, when Minnesotans will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, three Catholic churches in Richfield recently affirmed that they will be following the lead of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, urging members and others to vote yes on the anti-gay marriage amendment.
While spokespeople for both St. Richard’s Catholic Church and Assumption Catholic Church referred inquiries about the issue directly to the office of the Archdiocese, Ann Garland, a business administrator at St. Peter's Catholic Church, said her church’s position was clear.
“Our position is that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the teachings of the Catholic Church restrict marriage to between a man and a woman,” Garland said. “So we would be voting yes for the amendment.”
The Archdiocese’s office referred questions about the amendment to the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), which is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota. Representing all six Minnesota dioceses, MCC is involved in outreach and education efforts on a variety of issues important to the Catholic church in the state, including attempts to pass the proposed amendment.
The state’s bishops have asked pastors in every Minnesota parish to work with MCC to form parish committees, which are meant to “educate Catholics about what marriage is, why it is important, and what the consequences are if it is redefined,” according to a statement from MCC.
The same statement said that parish committees would focus on prayer, educational activities and events, as well as opportunities to put “faith in action” through the political process.
In addition to more general education efforts regarding the church’s teachings, Garland confirmed that St. Peter’s would be involved with political campaigns aimed at passing the amendment in the run-up to the 2012 general election.
Although she didn’t know the precise date, Garland said that sometime in early June she expected members of St. Peter’s to be involved in rallies at the Federal Building in Minneapolis regarding the marriage amendment and healthcare reform.
Rather than taking direct political action, over the summer St. Peter’s will likely concentrate on furnishing logistical support—such as providing bus service for church members interested in attending rallies around the Twin Cities—rather than directly planning political action. Garland said the Archdiocese already has committees responsible for orchestrating both education and outreach efforts.
“The Archbishop is definitely the teacher of his flock,” Garland said.
MCC’s position regarding the marriage amendment follows a statement released by the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota on Sept. 22, 2010, urging those in government, Catholics and “all people of good will” in Minnesota to “support marriage, both in theory and in practical measures that safeguard, promote, and enhance marriage and family.” The statement concluded that a practical measure would be a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Dissent in the Church
Despite the church’s unequivocal position, the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul has stirred controversy with some Catholics over its support of the marriage amendment. Again, while spokespeople for St. Richard's and Assumption Church referred questions about disagreement over the marriage amendment to the archdiocese, Garland acknowledged that not all members of St. Peter’s agreed about the church’s position. Still, she said it didn’t make any difference.
“St. Peter affirms that the Catholic Church is abundantly clear that we’re not a democracy,” Garland said. “The church has authority.”
MCC acknowledged that, while some Catholics may have second thoughts about the marriage amendment, and were welcome to call or write their pastors or the bishop to express their opinions and share their concerns, “the church does not have the authority to change the nature of marriage.”
Those interested in knowing more about the Catholic Church's position on the proposed marriage amendment may visit the Minnesota Catholic Conference's website.