Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Minnesota Priest Speaks Truth to Power, Challenges Bishops' Anti-Gay Marriage Video

This is an encouraging report: a Catholic pastor in Minnesota speaks out against the decision of the Minnesota Catholic bishops to play the partisan gay-marriage card on the eve of the fall elections.

Tom Roberts at National Catholic Reporter summarizes a letter Fr. Michael Tegeder of St. Edward Parish in Bloomington, Minnesota, wrote to the Star-Tribune.  The letter was published on 2 October.

Fr. Tegeder challenges the premise of the anti-gay marriage video being circulated by the Minnesota Catholic bishops and the Knights of Columbus that same-sex marriage is a grave threat to heterosexual marriage.  As he notes, many studies show that marriages fail primarily due to economic distress, which is growing in our society right now.  It's difficult to imagine two people of the same sex living in a loving and committed relationship as a threat of any kind to loving and committed heterosexual unions.

Fr. Tegeder also notes that in opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples and seeking to force voters to adopt constitutional amendments to prohibit same-sex civil marriage, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota and elsewhere are attempting to dictate their own peculiar religious views to society at large.

Fr. Tegeder finds it "scandalous" that Archbishop Nienstedt has accepted money for this political crusade from a donor whose identity he will not disclose.  In Tegeder's view, in doing so, he has compromised the integrity of his pastoral office and gives the strong impression that he is playing partisan politics.  In his view, Nienstedt's leadership around this issue is "bullying" leadership, and is not modeled on the pastoral example of Jesus himself.

Finally, Fr. Tegeder argues that it is important that people get to know each other as real, flesh-and-blood human beings and stop relying on ideological stereotypes to sum other folks up.  He notes that our viewpoints change profoundly when we get to know others' names and the circumstances with which others are dealing.

A case in point: his own perspective on same-sex marriage has been affected by his interaction with a gay couple in a long-standing committed relationship, who are raising two sons whom they adopted out of a "hell hole of a Russian orphanage."  The couple have recently spent thousands of dollars to assist one of the two sons who has a learning disability.

Fr. Tegeder concludes,

In this very difficult world where there are many divisive issues, we've got to begin getting to know each others' names. We're all up in arms about something that is about love, about people trying to find some happiness in this very difficult world.

I encourage readers to link to the NCR article and read it in its entirety--and the thread of comments attached, which are (thus far) running heavily in favor of Fr. Tegeder and the truth he's daring to speak to power in his state of Minnesota.

The graphic is Rembrandt's 1655 sketch of David confronting Goliath.

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