In the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, His Excellency Most Rev. John Nienstedt, the Archbishop, has spoken very firmly about the need to defend the right to life and the urgent need to resist FOCA.
FOCA would remove all restrictions to abortion and would make the position of Catholic physicians and health-care givers very difficult.
A least one of the priests openly opposes the Archbishop’s position about FOCA.
Here is what Fr. Michael Tegeder, pastor of St. Edward’s in Bloomington, MN, offered to the world in the Minneapolis Star/Tribune, arguably one the worst newspapers in the United States.
My emphases and comments.
Michael Tegeder: Church plans for mass mailing on abortion bill are ill-advised
By MICHAEL TEGEDER
December 22, 2008
When I signed up 35 years ago to be a priest, little did I realize that postcards would be an essential tool of ministry in the Catholic Church. It began a few years ago, when the Catholic bishops of Minnesota, led by then-Bishop John Nienstedt, pushed a postcard campaign in all Minnesota Catholic parishes that promoted a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman. Preprinted postcards were to be signed and sent to legislators.
We never got a report from the bishops on what was accomplished. To someone who did not see this as necessary, it seemed a waste of time and money. It also generated some unnecessary ill will. [Since it is clear that the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman is under attack in the public square, it seems Fr. Tegeder is not interested in defending marriage described in the traditional Christian way.]
Now the bishops of the United States are conducting a national postcard campaign to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). [Don't be distracted. Tegeder is not really interested in the use of postcards. He is taking a position against what the postcard campaigns are all about. He was against defending marriage as between one man and one woman. Let's see what else he is against.] This is to take place in all Catholic parishes the weekend of Jan. 24-25, which happens to be during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and just a few days after the historic inauguration of the first African-American president, Barack Obama. This should indeed be a time to focus on what unites us. [So... his position is that voicing opposition to FOCA will interfere with Christian Unity? His position is that we shouldn't voice opposition to FOCA because the man who promised to sign it is going to be inaugurated?]
Our nation and new president will be challenged by ongoing wars, an economy in severe recession, ballooning deficits, high unemployment and an environment and health care system in crisis. Yet at this very moment the Catholic bishops have declared that they have this more pressing need. [Yes... because if you cannot say that a human being has the right to be born, then no other rights can be defended. What is going on here is that Tegeder has fallen into the "we shouldn't be single issue Catholics" crowd. The the "seamless garment" approach is still rending the Church.]
A national postcard campaign against FOCA is a huge undertaking. In the letter from our archdiocese to me as pastor, I was told, "Our Archdiocese is responsible for securing a point person in each parish who will be responsible for the January 2009 massive postcard campaign materials in your parish." Actually, they intend for the pastors to do this. Postcards are to be sent to our representatives in Congress.
Obviously church leaders have every right to promote their concerns in the public arena. [Ehem... so long as their concerns are in keeping with the teachings of the Church.] But FOCA is a phantom threat. [FOCA is a "phantom threat"?] It is meant to limit legislation by Congress on abortion. It will not be passed. [?!?] Why would Congress pass a law to limit its own power? One well-placed Catholic commentator stated, "FOCA has as much chance of passage as the [now 0-15] Detroit Lions have of winning the next Super Bowl." [Okay folks... how many things are wrong with this paragraph?]
A Catholic journalist, David Gibson, has a good perspective for Catholics concerned about abortion: "The problem of course is that these straw men and red herrings divert us all from the hard work to be done on this issue both within the church and in the public square. Opposition to FOCA should be part of that, to keep pressure on and pols honest. But using a phantom FOCA as a single-issue means of demonizing one’s political opponents does no good to one’s cause, or the wider society."
We can do many positive things. Indeed, Obama has stated that he wants to reduce the number of abortions. We should work with him on doing this.
In the Christmas spirit, [HUH? This is just snide.] may I offer this suggestion to my fellow Catholics: With your Christmas offering, include a note saying that we do not need to send FOCA postcards. [Look what he just did. He publicly, in the local secular newpaper, asked people to defy the bishops of the USA in their attempt to fight FOCA. He asked people to thwart the local Archbishop's initiative.] During this season of goodwill, let us offer our new president some and hold back on the confrontation. And to the bishops: Your Graces, remember grace.
Michael Tegeder is a priest in Bloomington.
This is an example of contumacy offered to the person of the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in my opinion.