‘Marriage Equality is the Work of Satan,’ Says Minnesota Bishop

Archbishop John Neinstedt of St. Paul/Minneapolis

Referring to marriage equality as the work of Satan, Archbishop John Neinstedt’s latest diatribe against LGBT equality reveals an incomprehensible blindness to the shifting tone among Catholic leadership in light of Pope Francis’ more welcoming acts. Signs of hope are more abundant internationally with positive comments now emerging from Ireland’s leading prelate, and an archbishop in Poland.

In a lengthy article in Legatus Magazine, Archbishop Neinstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis explains his opposition to marriage equality in a flurry of tangential arguments. His view is one which Minnesota voters rejected last November; and the state’s legislature approved equal marriage rights this spring. Additionally, Nienstedt used the Church’s financial resources heavily in 2012 campaigning against marriage equality. The new legal reality of marriage equality has not stopped him from harsh rhetoric against LGBT equality, as he writes in the magazine:

“Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life. Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization.  The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies.  Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on earth.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin

A different sort of message on marriage equality came from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland.  In a refreshing change of tone, the Irish leader said that church leaders need to be more respectful when they present their opposition to marriage equality. The Irish Examiner quoted Martin:

“The church has taken a very strong line, and I don’t think people would expect the church to not to do that. “But it would be done – and this is important – the church has to learn how to fight its battles in a respectful and in a noble way.”

Perhaps no one more than the U.S. Catholic bishops, and Archbishop Neinstedt among them, need to learn that lesson. Their shrill rhetoric on marriage has not only been largely ineffective in preventing marriage equality laws, but it is also seen to be pastorally harmful.  What bishops don’t seem to realize is that many of their church members sincerely and conscientiously support marriage equality.  They also know, love, and respect gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships, so the bishops’ message of how marriage equality will ruin society rings hollow at best, and is heard as hateful at worst.

Earlier this week, we reported on the letter opposing marriage equality written by Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, Hawaii, and how his comparisons of lesbian and gay committed relationships to polygamy  and incest were not only offensive, but illogical. Attributing marriage equality, and those who support it, to the work of Satan is equally illogical, disrespectful, and far from noble. It is far past time for America’s bishops to follow Pope Francis and other leaders internationally in adopting a more pastoral tone amid changing societies that expand the right to marry for every family.

–Bob Shine and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

18 replies
  1. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    Every Bishop…every Catholic is entitled to their opinion on the support of gay rights and marriage equality. They will sort themselves and in the end the Faithful will attend to the own sincere consciences as put forth in the Catholic Catechism as “primary” – before God. What bewilders me is how Church hierarchy can teach this and then insist that only their directives are true teaching. While the Church’s teaching on gay sexual/love expression is one of condemnation – as it is for the unmarried heterosexual – their zeal for enforcing this rule for gay persons is ardent. You don’t see sexually active unmarried persons being barred from the Eucharist or church services ! Though in my heart I am following my conscience – being guided by the Holy Spirit to the best I can living my Faith as a gay/partnered Catholic man, it is no less disheartening to hear these Episcopate bigots constantly spouting vitriolic hatred/rejection against my brothers/sisters and I. Yet I remain Catholic. The Church has been fractionated by schism before – it can happen again. The Roman Church has evolved from a simple credo of loving others as we wished to be loved – established by Christ – to a human bureaucracy of Levitical canons. Certainly not, I believe, what our Lord intended.

  2. Joseph Gentilini
    Joseph Gentilini says:

    I strongly agree with Duckman 44625 above. The hierarchy and teaching Church is wrong on the topic of marriage equality, but will probably not change its view in my lifetime. I explain why I stay a gay-partnered Catholic man in my book, “Hounded by God: A Gay Man’s Journey To Self-Acceptance, Love, and Relationship” published by Dog Ear Publishing Company. My relationship with God and my conscience are more a guide to my moral decisions than my relationship with the teaching Church. Unfortunately, the Church made it difficult for me to accept myself as a gay man – the integration of my sexuality with my spirituality was made painful and difficult because of the Church’s rejection of me as a gay man.

    • Crysta Williams
      Crysta Williams says:

      The church didn’t reject you, the cult did…

      There are plenty of churches that are smart enough to know when they are wrong, mature enough to admit it, and strong enough to emerge on the other side a better place to be…

      • duckman44625
        duckman44625 says:

        At the time of Christ the Temple Cult had evolved in collaboration with Rome…the Levite priests destroyed in the prior conquering of Jerusalem – resulting in corruption of Judaism – the hypocritical Pharisees assuming the role if the priests – concerned with political rather than religious principles. At present the Church in a sense has “evolved” into a Temple Cult – concerned with rules/regulations which exclude rather than embrace those who vary from Church teaching – human canons not Godly commands. The only command given to us by the Head of the True Church – the Mystical Body of Christ – united to ALL persons – all faiths, races, creeds – and yes, sexual orientations – is to love – not exclude. Francis I displays this in his LIVING the Gospel – leaving whatever judgement is to be in the hands of our unconditionally loving Father. It is sad and in a sense, a betrayal of Francis as the Vicar of Christ – that some bishops stand in rebellion of him – they would be best advised to remain silent than impale their souls with hateful bigoted words of exclusion and judgement. Namaste.

  3. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    History will record that those who fought vehemently against marriage equality, homosexuality are closeted gay men/women…clergy and laity…who project their self-loathing and envy of us freed from “Catholic guilt”…who live WHO they were created to be. History is already proving such in homophobic politicians and clergy.

  4. Lydia Lombardo
    Lydia Lombardo says:

    How/why the church has become so punitive again is a real conundrum. The wrathful “God” of our youth returned before we knew what was happening. John Paul II and Pope Benedict have brought many of our bishops and priests all the way back to pre-Vatican II. The language being used against gay people, divorced people, and women, to name a few, is the most hurtful I have ever heard. All mothers will identify with this statement: ” You hurt me is one thing, but you hurt my child, no matter how old, and I become a protector and defender and justifiably angry. The pain is indescribable,” The heirarchy has hurt several of my children directly and they no longer attend a church which keeps pouring on the guilt and shame. As I also struggle to remain a Catholic, I admire the comments of the gay men who have posted here today. God Bless You for following your consciences…as I am trying to follow mine.

    • duckman44625
      duckman44625 says:

      As a father of five…still married…aware of my gay nature only five years ago…my wife & I mutually agreed to live separately for both our sakes…I agree fully with you…acceptance out of love is possible for us…it should be for the Church hierarchy…if anything is a threat to the Church it is the blind hatred of the hierarchy.

  5. George
    George says:

    Jesus, who hung out with publicans and sinners warned us to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Interestingly, the pallium, made of white lambs wool, is worn by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops. The rites and rules of Institutional Judaism were dictated by the Pharisees in Jesus time, a group he called whitened sepulchers. The Judaic religious court was the Sanhedrin who called for Jesus death.

    We have to distinguish between the Church as “the people of god” which in Greek is “laos” and the institutional Church. The institutional Church has been corrupt through the centuries. The recent HBO presentation of the papacy of the Borgia Alexander VI, whose actions were dictated by politics, not religion, should be a warning about the present group of Bishops. The Hierarchy appointments of John Paul II and Benedict were synchronous with right-wing political regimes. The US hierarchy is firmly in the Republican camp and dedicated to fighting the right-wing cultural war.

    Paul taught that the law is made for man, not man for the law. The Hierarchy is obsessed with controlling women’s bodies every much as the ultraconservative Islamic and Judaic faction. the Church is fulminating and organizing against birth control and abortion, but doesn’t organize the faithful and use its considerable political influence to prevent wars. The church organizes against same-sex marriage as a threat to families but never has put out, and now does not put out, any effort to end divorce and child abuse.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] before it was legalized via referendum in 2015. He repeatedly called for respectful engagement(here, here, here, and here), acknowledging the harsh style with which church leaders had approached […]

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  3. […] from any church leader is rare and this is not Archbishop Martin’s first time calling for a more respectful tone from the church on LGBT civil rights. Rarer still is the humility displayed by Martin that he is no […]

  4. […] once said that “marriage equality is the work of Satan,” the archbishop now says he was “not against gays” and “didn’t […]

  5. […] story is complicated by a number of factors.  First, there is Nienstedt’s record of very strong anti-gay comments, many of which were made during Minnesota’s debate about a constitutional amendment […]

  6. […] Shine and Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry had a few thoughts on Archbishop Nienstedt and his ugly anti-gay […]

  7. […] Shine and Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry had a few thoughts on Archbishop Nienstedt and his ugly anti-gay […]

  8. […] Respectful Opposition (click to read article) […]

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