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Smaller, faithful Church will retain influence, says Minnesota archbishop

October 19, 2010

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul, Minnesota, argues that the Catholic Church can remain a powerful influence on society despite a decline in numbers.

In an interview with AP, Archbishop Nienstedt said that the closing of parishes in his Minnesota archdiocese should not be seen as a sign of withdrawal from engagement with the surrounding culture. He acknowledged that the parish closings are a response to a drop in the number of priests and in Mass attendance. But he insisted that a smaller Church can retain influence.

Echoing a theme that was sounded by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger shortly before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Nienstedt said that the key to influence is not numerical strength but fidelity to the Gospel message. When questioned about negative reactions to a DVD that he had distributed, making the case against acceptance of same-sex marriage, the archbishop indicated that he was not inclined to soft-pedal his message. Catholics, he said, “have to be 100% Catholic.”


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  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Oct. 19, 2010 10:59 PM ET USA

    On the occasion of the Beatification of John Cardinal Henry Newman Pope Benedict praised him as a model who demonstrated that a passion for truth, intellectual honesty and conversion are costly. The crucifix is a reminder of just how costly it is to bear witness to the truth. Archbishop Nienstedt is right not to soft-pedal the truth about the sanctity of marriage which our Lord bore witness to when attended the wedding feast at Cana and performed his first sign in the prsence of his disciples.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Oct. 19, 2010 8:38 PM ET USA

    While I do agree this is true, we shouldn't forget there are 1.1 billion Catholics in theworld/more than enough to shape this world to Christ Will.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Oct. 19, 2010 7:04 PM ET USA

    Bravo Archbishop Nienstedt! A smaller Church will be a holier Church too.