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Minnesota: archbishop battles clergy dissent on marriage amendment

January 18, 2012

With Catholic Church leaders in Minnesota enthusiastically supporting a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would safeguard marriage, Archbishop John Nienstedt has warned his priests that "open dissension" will not be tolerated.

One priest who has challenged the archbishop on that point, Father Mike Tegeder, has reportedly been warned that he could be suspended from ministry if he continues to oppose the amendment campaign.

The Star-Tribune account of the conflict makes a point that is, unfortunately, difficult to dispute:

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

However, the Minneapolis newspaper continues with another sentence that is at best misleading:

Still, religious scholars say that priests have been suspended in recent decades for supporting the ordination of women and having differing views about church doctrine on birth control.

In a day when internet search engines make it easy to research the issue, it is odd the the Star-Tribune finds it necessary to cite "religious scholars"--who are not named--as the authority for the claim that priests have been suspended for advocating the ordination of women. In fact, the Holy See has clearly stated that anyone who participates in a ceremony attempting the ordination of women is not suspended but excommunicated. Scores of priests who advocate openly for women's ordination remain in active ministry.

As for the claim that priests have been suspended for opposing the Church's teaching on contraception, the newspaper's statement is true only if "recent decades" is understood to include the 1960s.


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