When Archbishop John Nienstedt was appointed by Pope Benedict to lead the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, many argued his tenure would be more conservative than outgoing Archbishop Harry Flynn. Nienstedt made good on those expectations Thursday when he wrote a statement accusing not only gays and lesbians of mortal sin, but their friends and family as well, a statement that has enraged gay and lesbian Catholics.
“Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin,” wrote Nienstedt. “They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest.”
LGBT Catholic groups responded to the statement, strongly criticizing Nienstedt.
“This should be a wake-up call for all Minnesotans,” said Catholic Rainbow Parents convenor Mary Lynn Murphy. “Such extreme talk from the most prominent Catholic leader in our State not only offends Catholics, but all LGBT citizens, their families and friends, and gives license to hatred and violence against all of us.”
Murphy said, “The new Archbishop should apologize, begin to educate himself on the topic of sexual orientation, and be the prophetic voice for the much-needed reform of the Church’s understanding of homosexuality.”
The Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) co-founder and communications coordinator David J. McCaffrey said, “This piece from Nienstedt marks an all-time high in this Archdiocese in the level of spiritual violence — actually, it should be called “persecution” — directed at LGBT persons, their families, friends, and supporters.”
“He seems to be targeting parents and families of gay people,” Michael Bayly, CPCSM executive coordinator told Fox 9 Twin Cities. He said the community reaction “ranges from disgust to disappoint to sadness and frustration.”