Archbp. Nienstedt and MN bishops defend marriage, work to overcome opposition – even from priests.

A week or so ago I posted about Archbishop John Nienstedt’s (St. Paul and Minneapolis) initiative to promote a defense of true and natural marriage in an amendment to the State Constitution of Minnesota. His Excellency indicated to the priests of the Archdiocese that if they had an objection to his intiatives, they should not make those objections a matter of public scandal (my description… because that is what objections would cause). In the past some priests of the Archdicoese have publicly attacked their Archbishop, even in the local newspaper.

Now I read in the Strib that there may be a showdown building between some few priests and Archbishop Nienstedt.  One particularly obtuse liberal, Fr. Mike Tegeder, who has in the past openly attacked and defied both Archbishops Flynn (emeritus) and Nienstedt, is dissenting in a manner which must be interpreted as support of homosexual marriage.

Archbishop Nienstedt and all the bishops of the Minnesota Catholic Conference deserve our support and our prayers.

As I have written before,  Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Minnesota Catholic Conference have nailed their colors to the mast.  WDTPRS will go to the wall to help his efforts.  They are spearheading promotion of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Minnesota in defense of true, natural, real marriage.

There will be all manner of bullying and intimidation applied to Minnesota dioceses, bishops, priests.  They need your prayers and support.  People who hate the Church and her message about the dignity of human life in all aspects will try to silence bishops and priests.  They are bullies and their threats and attacks must be resisted.

Unfortunately there are some quisling priests who think they know better than God our Creator and they are willing to scandalize the faithful.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. wmeyer says:

    In so many matters where doctrine is clear, there is yet so much dissent, even from priests. It is very sad. Thanks be to God for string and wise bishops. Would that all were cut from the same cloth.

  2. Cantor says:

    It is also uncommon for bishops to suspend priests for failing to abide by Catholic teaching.

    That’s perhaps the most discouraging comment of all.

  3. ContraMundum says:

    Quisling was the right word.

  4. I would append the suggestion that we also pray for the faithful priests of the archdiocese. While they won’t receive vitriol to the same degree as their archbishop, they will be disparaged and face the discouragement of a divided presbyterate.

    And if you’re in a parish with a faithful priest, never underestimate the positive value of directly offering your own kind words of support and prayer – or even better, a brief note sent in the mail.

  5. Cause and effect:

    Cause: It is also uncommon for bishops to suspend priests for failing to abide by Catholic teaching.

    Effect: Unfortunately there are some quisling priests who think they know better than God our Creator and they are willing to scandalize the faithful.


  7. NoTambourines says:

    Many good ideas there, even if giving a “Collar-Holler” isn’t your style!

  8. Anne 2 says:

    We are all obliged to follow our Diocese Bishop in matters of Faith and Morals when they conform to the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition” in its entirety. This is doubly important for Diocese Priests since they take a vow of obedience. [No, they don’t. Diocesan priests make a promise, not a vow.]
    Bishops have all the tools they need to repremand or censure scandalous Priests and Laity in Canon Code, etc. They merely have to do it.

  9. Y2Y says:

    There is only ONE just penalty for treason…. short drop & sharp stop.

  10. pm125 says:

    Also, add the simply confused, apolitical faithful to prayers for these problems caused by Priests and Catechists who break promises and sully Truth.

  11. Nora says:

    Praying for those poor priests who received the indelible mark of the priesthood and all of the attendant gifts having been formed in “the spirit of Vatican II”. They make me crazy, but it is not entirely their fault and I pray that their judgement will reflect that reality, just as I hope my own will. …and a pre-mortem conversion would not trouble me, were they or I to receive it.

  12. rcg says:

    If this sort of activity can happen vertically, what about laterally? That is, could the local parishes get out the word about their alignment with the Bishop and let the people, and their contributions, move accordingly. Essentially starve the priest out of his parish financially. Then he can ask for assignment to a foundation or NGO where his opinions will find more support.

  13. Thing is, priests aren’t supposed to give their personal opinions in place of Church teaching. That is not what they are commissioned for. It is as if I gave my clients my opinion as to what the applicable law should say rather than what it actually says. If I did that, I would be failing to give them the knowledge they need to make an intelligent decision as to how to proceed with their case. Likewise, a priest who gives his opinion instead of what the Church teaches is failing to give his flock the knowledge they need to save their souls.

    P.S. The bishop is absolutely right to get involved in this issue. If Catholics had not frittered away our political clout in the first place, we need never have come to the point where this fight has to be fought.

  14. PhilipNeri says:

    I wonder how long the Good Father would tolerate a dissenting parochial vicar? I mean, a PV who publicly dissented from his authority as pastor. My guess: about three seconds. Of course, the poor fellow would be hustled out for the usual lefty reasons: not a team player, unresponsive to the Spirit of Vatican Two, not inclusive of the diverse ministerial gifts of the laity, failure to work collaboratively with women, racist, homophobic, ad. nau.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  15. robtbrown says:

    In an interview Fr Tegeder identifies Cardinal Schonborn as “the main author of the catechism”. This is completely wrong. Fr Schonborn didn’t write one word. He was the editorial secretary, “a cut and paste man” as one of the profs described him. So not only is Fr Tegeder ignorant of Catholic teaching, he is doesn’t even know simple facts.

    Beam me up, Scottie . . .

  16. Jason says:

    Father, for my own edification; what is the difference between a promise and a vow? Thanks.

  17. Allan says:

    Well if the good Bishop does not want to emulate Madam LaFarge to handle these dissidents, perhaps a transfer to an assignment establishing a new parish on a glacier in northern MN would do.

    From the pewsitter point of view all future contributions would go to – Right to Life,
    the Holy See, and the good bishop with a note of thanks.

    These dissidents have declared war on the teachings of the Church, it is proper to defend ourselves.

  18. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Too bad my pastor isn’t part of Archbishop Nienstedt’s archdiocese. He’d be one of the Archbishop’s biggest supporters.

    Fr. Maurer, thanks for the nudge re: writing a note of support to one’s faithful priest. I’ve been considering doing so for our young (34), faithful, tireless priest who has accomplished much (increased numbers of confessions, marriages, baptisms, activities) as the sole priest of our 2000+ parish and K-8 school, as well as being the Catholic chaplain for our local hospital.

    He preaches Church teaching regularly, from the pulpit, in the bulletin, 24/7, in spite of parishioners complaining about his long sermons (Mass goes over an hour – oh, the horror!) and of course, his tackling the hot-button issues such as homosexual marriage, contraception, and assisted reproductive technology (and having people leave during such sermons, as witnessed by a friend once). I have enormous respect and admiration for him and often pray for him. He’s not perfect – he’s not a Yankee fan – but he’s probably the best priest I’ve known.

    Ironically, I’m a dissenter. I have my struggles with the Faith, though they have decreased in the past year, thanks in part to blogs such as this one, and I sit in my pew each week as I try to reconcile things. That being said, I fully support the right of the Church and Her followers to preach and live the faith (hence, my happiness about the recent SCOTUS decision and its implications) and feel very sorry for such fine men as my pastor who face increasing adversity and hostility, at times, sadly enough, from their brother priests.

  19. Too bad the Rev. Tegeder and the likes of him don’t head over to St. Mark Episcopal Cathedral and join that crowd that is more to his liking. Perhaps pulling him from the parish that he serves now and not reassigning him might be the boost that he needs.

  20. Precentrix says:

    @Sicilian Woman,

    If you’re struggling with your faith and sitting in the pew trying to reconcile things, you’re not a dissenter. Having difficulty on one level or another with Church teaching isn’t dissent. We all have difficulties at times, either on a rational level (it doesn’t seem to make sense) or on an emotional one (I know this is what the Church teaches but it doesn’t seem… fair…). As long as you carry on trying to make sense of stuff, you’re doing just fine. Hang on in there.

    Dissent is when you decide that you know better than the Church and stop making that effort to see why She says what She says.


  21. Blaise says:

    I suspect Precentrix may have just described Fr Tegeder in her definition of dissent.

    This paragraph from the linked article is quite interesting:
    In November, Tegeder received a letter stating that if he did not end his public opposition, Nienstedt would suspend his “faculties to exercise ministry” and remove him from his “ministerial assignments.”
    I fear it may very well come to that.

    This is surely a clear example of where a priest’s promise of obedience to his bishop is being fundamentally disregarded. We should all be praying for him as well as the Archbishop and other priests in his diocese.

    For a priest to fail in his promise of obedience so publically and therefore so scandalously is a sad thing. Who knows the difficulties (from poor formation onwards) that this priest has had to deal with, which have led to this day. May this ocnfrontation lead to his realizing his position and allowing a renewed fidelity to his ordination promises to be a source of God’s grace. I pray that he may come to support the Archbishop publically and vocally and renounce his previous opposition publically and consistently.

  22. Dan says:

    I find it interesting that so many dissenters argue that the Church is being “too political” – as if religious belief grounded in reason cannot have a voice in the public square.

    The Archbishop is simply trying to be DEMOCRATIC in the fullest sense of the word…encouraging like minded individuals to come together to support a ballot initative. What is wrong with that? That’s how Americans voice their opinion on just about every issue. So supporters of homosexual “marriage” can organize but supporters of natural marriage cannot? Quite the double standard.

    We need to be able to articulate our right to engage with these ideas in public, lest it slip away from us. People already believe that religion is simply a “private matter,” and the Supreme Court has already acknowledged in Lawerence v. Texas that morality is not a proper basis for law – at least when viewed in the light of “substantive due process.” But that’s another story.
    The Church’s defense of moral truth in the public square is not “overly political” – it’s democracy in action. Let’s use it before we loose it!

    And Y2Y, I hope the implication that the Archbishop should hang, or otherwise execute, a dissenting priest is not serious. After all, the Archbishop is simply trying to encourage democratic participation in an election…let’s not tarnish his intentions by holding him out to be a despot. How about we pray for the priest instead?

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Michael Voris is taping from Minneapolis-St.Paul this week presenting a series on real Catholic men. Do you think there is a connection? If you all haven’t checked his video out, do so, and pray for the priests. I lived in that area for years and it is and has been a spiritual battle ground, FEBA.

  24. PhilipNeri says:


    If I may, a few distinctions:

    “Error” simply means “getting it wrong.” This happens a lot in homilies b/c eternal mysteries like the Trinity and the Incarnation are difficult to get right in human language. No blame should attach to errors if they are genuine mistakes.

    “Dissent” is what happens when you think that your errors are not erroneous and you blab them publicly in an effort to get everyone else to agree with you. In my experience, dissent is usually about something other than the actual error, i.e. the error itself is little more than an opportunity to express disdain for legit authority or to be oppositionally defiant for the sake of being defiant.

    “Heresy” is what happens when your public dissent has been corrected by legit authority and you stubbornly refuse to accept that you are wrong. The essential part of the definition of heresy is that you have been corrected and refuse to recant.

    Too often, the press and eager More Catholic Than the Pope Catholics confuse error with heresy and claim the offender is a dissident. Error becomes heresy with the addition of 1) legit authority offering correction and 2) stubborn refusal to admit the original error.

    I’m not offering these distinctions as hard canonical definitions but as a way of thinking about what happens when a pastor–a well-educated source of legit Church authority–makes the deliberate choice to oppose publicly a clearly articulated (and ancient!) teaching of the Church, and does so in further opposition to his superior’s request that he not do so.

    Any reasonable, privately held doubts an individual Catholic might have about a Church teaching do not rise to this level of heretical activity.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  25. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t agree that the Archbishop’s campaign to “spearhead a Constitutional amendment” is pastorally sound for many, many reasons.

    First, it is fiscally irresponsible to spend at least hundreds of thousands of dollars that will most likely be wasted because of the likelihood of the failure of the initiative.
    Second, those dollars were contributed by the faithful to support the ministry of the church, not the political inclinations of the head pastor.
    Third, the initiative does little to meet the pastoral needs of persons with homosexual orientations or inclincations.
    Fourth, it does little to assist those who are either preparing for or are already married. Those dollars would be far more effectively utilized buttressing premarital formation.
    Fifth, it promotes (perhaps unjustly) the perception of many that the church is a bigoted institution with regard to persons who find themselves in sexual minorities.
    Fifth, it aligns the church the church with other organizations who have indeed manifest bigoted attitudes in the past with respect to race and sexual minorities, primarily the LDS. It’s never good for us to get in bed with fundamentalists and other cults.
    Those are just five reasons . . .

  26. frjim4321 says:

    the second “Fifth” = “Sixth”

  27. frjim4321 says:

    “five” = “six”

  28. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Jim: 1) The likelihood of failure is no reason for the Church to remain silent on an important teaching of the natural law, especially when such silence will later cause civil law to be turned against the Church’s outreach in other areas: e.g. adoption agencies run by Catholic groups. 2) The defense of marriage between man and woman is not a “political inclination” such as drawing up voting districts or allowing direct-vote propositions on a state ballot. It is God’s command to the most fundamental structure in civil society. 3) The need to teach and form Catholic homosexuals via just, civil laws is part of their pastoral need, while allowing gay marriage to be codified is very destructive and pastorall negligent, showing them benign neglect, and not charity. 4) Why would Catholic married couples who try to promote natural law precepts not be assisted by codifying this in civil law? Why would couples preparing for marriage not be assisted? Civil law teaches, and forms, as well as binds. 5) To do nothing also promotes something–that the Church is an accomplice in the moral decay of society and accepts the sexual revolution as healthy and inevitable. 6) In the public square, and in a pluralistic society, it is impossible for the Church to seek her political goals without at times having to collaborate with groups that promote moral evil–such as the Democratic Party! LOL (I had to put that in there, for those who know of my tongue in cheek humor).

  29. Elizabeth D says:

    It is something priests and bishops MUST speak up publicly about because SO MANY people, even who do not have same sex attraction themselves, are participating in one way or another in others’ sins of that kind, sometimes gravely, and are at risk of being deeply confused about the nature and purposes of marriage (contraception also contributes to this problem). These efforts help to educate everyone, whether same sex attracted or not, which is truly a duty of pastors.

    When people are deeply confused about the nature and purposes of marriage, that can affect the validity of marriages that people attempt to enter into, and it can and does affect the way people live their marriage. The belief that two people of the same sex can/should “marry” militates against holy marriages–so does the belief that contraception is morally okay. The former is actually more devastating to the understanding of marriage, even though the latter leads married people in more obvious and direct ways into grave sin.

    As to ministry to people with same sex attraction Fr Jim, teaching about chastity in the single state is broadly needed and doesn’t always have to be same-sex-attraction-specific, and if there is enough interest in something that is specific to that difficulty, I don’t think it necessarily is expensive to have a Courage group.

  30. PhilipNeri says:


    First, Jesus warned us long ago that defending the truth would often be expensive; dare we say, fiscally irresponsible.

    Second, defending marriage is not a “political inclination of the head pastor.” Marriage is a foundation stone of western civilization and a sacrament of the Church. Trying to redefine marrage via legislative fiat is a political inclination.

    Third, teaching the Church’s ancient views on marriage is a perfectly pastoral response to those who deal with same-sex attraction. Telling SSA’ed individuals that they can and should pretend to be married is not pastoral. The Truth is Always Pastoral.

    Fourth, arguing for and supporting financially the sacred bond of marriage is one of the best ways to prepare couples for marriage. Abandoning marriage to the trendy impulses of politicians out to win the favor of their favorite mob is not.

    Fifth, Jesus promised us long ago that we will be forever misunderstood, misinterpreted, misjudged, and subject to the finger-pointing of those who hate the gospel. We don’t do ourselves or anyone else any favors by dodging the truth simply b/c it might make us look bad. Frankly, those who hate us are going to hate regardless of what we do.

    Sixth, defending the ancient institution of marriage aligns us with approx. 5,000 years of known human history, scripture, the consistent teaching of the apostles, various non-western/non-Christian cultures, natural law, common sense, good socio-economic policy, and the happiness and welfare of children. That freaks and weirdos on the fringe of society attack SSA’ed individuals and oppose same-sex “marriage” is an unpleasant but wholly irrelevant fact in the Church’s defense of traditional marriage.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  31. Marcus de Alameda says:

    I remember the fraternal correction that the Fr. Altier was given a few years ago when Bishop Flynn was at the helm. For voicing his opposition to Safe Environments program promoted by the USCCB. He was pulled from parish ministry at St. Agnes and assigned to chaplin of a hospital (..?). Fr. Altier accepted the bishop’s decision with honor and did not fan the flames of public scandal. I pray for Archbishop Nienstedt and his flock, and hope he will also take just and swift action to correct the wayward priests opposing him (e.g., Rev. Tegeder ). Do you think these decenters will take correction by the bishop gracefully… as did Fr. Altier?

  32. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Neri:

    The similarities of themes in our response to our brother Jim is uncanny, no? God bless!

  33. PhilipNeri says:

    Fr Sotelo, great minds think alike! And so do ours. :-)

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

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