Some Minn. priests differ with Catholic church over marriage amendment

Retired Catholic priests Fr. John Brandes, Fr. Timothy Power and Fr. Thomas Garvey, left to right, wrote a letter to the Star Tribune expressing their opposition to a constitutional marriage amendment that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The letter, which was not published, urged Minnesota Catholics to vote against the amendment. The priests were photographed Thursday, May 17, 2012 near the Lake Harriet bandshell in Minneapolis. (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

As Minnesota voters prepare to go to the polls this fall, the Catholic Church has mounted a major effort to convince them to approve a constitutional amendment that would only allow marriage between men and women.

But Catholics are not united behind the church’s official position, a point made clear today, when a group representing 80 former Catholic priests spoke out against the marriage amendment. They said the amendment violates Christian principles of love and justice.

Also coming forward to oppose the amendment were John Brandes, Tom Garvey and Tim Power, three retired priests who are still part of the church. They also came forward to oppose the amendment, putting them on a collision course with John C. Nienstedt, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who last year informed all priests that they could not publicly dissent.

Catholic bishops have made passage of the amendment a top political priority this year, even though Minnesota law already prohibits gay marriage. Proponents of the amendment say it is needed to block a Hennepin County court case that seeks to overturn state law and numerous attempts by Democratic state legislators to legalize gay marriage.

In a letter submitted to the Star Tribune, titled “Catholics of Minnesota you have a choice!” they wrote, “There is not just one way for Catholics to vote in November.”

Their letter describes gays and lesbians as brothers and sisters in Christ, who need allies. [More]


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