Catholic right targets University of St. Thomas, parish in Prospect Park


St. Frances Cabrini Church has drawn the wrath of conservatives for its support of LGBT Catholics. The University of St. Thomas, “sliding toward secularization” according to Strib columnist Kathy Kersten, has drawn criticism because it no longer automatically names the archbishop as chair of its board.

Recent statements by the St. Frances Cabrini Church in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis are likely to draw sharp criticism from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Father Leo Tibesar’s Oct. 27 homily saying that those who are ostracized from the church yet who still love God are more worthy in Jesus’ eyes — namely LGBT Catholics. The church website has also drawn criticism from a Christian news outlet,, because of statements asserting that the church will perform same-sex commitment ceremonies and that the church is willing to accept gay and lesbian priests and ministers.

St. Thomas board changes create conservative stir

by Andy Birkey , Minnesota Monitor

A recent decision by the University of St. Thomas to restructure the institution’s board of trustees has led to criticism by conservative Catholics and Christian news outlets that the university is moving away from conservative Catholicism.

When Archbishop Harry Flynn retires in 2008, it will be the first time the school will not have a current Archbishop on the board. Catholic activists speculate that that decision is a result of resistance to incoming Archbishop John Nienstedt, known for his much more conservative leanings, and that the rule change is a move to keep him off the board. St. Thomas rejects that notion, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis appears supportive of the move although they have indicated that Nienstedt should have a place on the board.

Until this year, the position of chairman of the board was held ex officio, or automatically, by the Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis according to the institution’s by-laws. The same was true for the vice chairman, a position held ex officio by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese. Instead, the board will now elect both positions. At an election in October, Archbishop Harry Flynn was elected to a five-year term, as was Vicar General Father Kevin McDonough — two members who would have held those seats without the by-law change.

That decision to remove the automatic presence of members of the Archdiocese has struck a nerve with conservatives. read full article

“What would Jesus say today if he were telling the parable in our Gospel of Luke?,” asked Tibesar in an audio clip widely circulated on Catholic blogs. “Two people came into church to pray. One was a Catholic archbishop who refuses communion to Rainbow Sash people at the Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday who prayed: ‘I give you thanks, oh God, that I am not like others — greedy, dishonest or like others who need to make their dissent from official church teaching so public and divisive.”

“The others were Rainbow parents of GLBT people at the Cathedral on Pentecost who stood off on the side and prayed: ‘Oh God, be merciful to us for failing to attend our own churches more often; they say they love God then turn their backs on us in hate directly contrary to John 1:4 — whoever loves God must also love the neighbor. Jesus concluded the last ones went home more worthy in God’s sight than the first.'”

The church’s “statement of reconciliation,” created in 1994, seems to be at the heart of recent criticisms. It reads, in part:

“As members of one body we are grieved by the separation of many of those Catholics who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual from the Catholic Church. We are aware of the centuries of oppression that these brothers and sisters have suffered at the hands of civil and religious authorities. We are aware of recent attempts by our bishops to label our brothers and sisters as “objectively disordered,” and to fight against their being granted their full civil rights.”

St. Frances Cabrini Church and Tibesar ran afoul of the archdiocese in late October after the church had scheduled a talk by a lesbian and her Catholic father, who together wrote a book describing the spiritual journey of coming out and acceptance within the Catholic tradition. The archdiocese forbade the church from hosting the talk.

The Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, head of Human Life International, told LifeSite that Tibesar’s actions, and those of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, are anti-Catholic. “I can only say what the Scriptures say, this is an abomination. The blessing of homosexual partners is an abomination and the corruption of children is a scandal.”

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has not yet responded to complaints by Catholics against St. Frances Cabrini Church or Tibesar.