On Monday, Archbishop John Neinstedt resigned his position as head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Neinstedt leaves a legacy as one of the most anti-LGBT Archbishops in the country. Here’s a timeline of some of his most anti-LGBT words and deeds:
Nienstedt issued “Defending Marriage and the Family Against Same-Sex Unions: What Should the Clay Say to the Potter?” a document that lays out his arguments for why same-sex couples should not have relationship rights:
This is why fellatio or sodomy lack the ability to achieve for two people a “two-in-one-flesh” union, precisely because these acts lack the physical and, therefore, psychological, emotional and spiritual penetration that is the defining characteristic of marital intercourse. Acts of oral or anal intercourse, therefore, remain on the level of mutual masturbation, which is inherently a self-gratifying, not a self-giving act. It is then logical to conclude that homosexual acts cannot signify a marital union because they do not unite those who engage in that act. From the order of nature then, one can by the use of reason conclude that homosexual activity cannot be described as marital intercourse. As reason demonstrates, therefore, marriage has a meaning prior to the wishes, desires or choices of any individual and that meaning cannot be realized by two persons of the same sex. one can conclude that the argument which would include same-sex unions within the civil definition of marriage as an issue of civil rights is clearly false, it has no basis in reality. Since a person is not genetically determined to be homosexual, the orientation pertains to the issue of behavior . . . and behavior can be controlled. The question then has to be asked: Do we as a society wish to give special status to a group characterized by a particular behavior? And if so, why not grant such status to other group behaviors?
Neinstedt reacted to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts while Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm:
The Scriptures provide numerous citations that prohibit homosexual activity: Genesis 19:4-11; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Jude, v. 7. While some reductionists try to dismiss these Scriptural references as irrelevant in light of contemporary culture, the Scriptural evidence is too overwhelming to be denied.
Moreover, many proponents of same-sex unions disavow any argument from a purely faith perspective. In that case, the follower of Christ can still argue from the truth of natural law which likewise speaks to this issue. The point of convergence becomes that of human reason as it reflects on the natural order of creation as well as human experience.
While a male and a female are complete individuals with respect to nutrition, sensation and locomotion, when it comes to reproduction, they are only potential parts of a mated pair. It is through their complimen-tarity that they become an “organic unit,” establishing their “two-in-one flesh” communion. 2
Homosexual acts of fellatio, cunnilingus or sodomy cannot unite two persons of the same sex organically in a “two-in-one flesh union.” More to the point, to be a true “marital” act, the partners must intend the ends of marriage itself. A desire for pleasure, mutual affirmation or even intimacy alone does not measure fully that which is called for in the “two-in-one flesh” union. The mutual self-gift of a true “marital” act requires a union of persons consummated and actualized by acts which are reproductive in type. 3 The sexual complimentarity expressed by a male and female creates the conjugal bond that lies at the heart of the reality we call marriage.
Neinstedt issued a diatribe against Brokeback Mountain:
The second event involves the movie, “BrokebackMountain,” which I do not recommend for your viewing.Hollywood seeks to make this film into a contemporary version of “Romeo and Juliet” with, of course, the necessary changes in gender. The story is about two lonely cowboys herding sheep up on a mountain range. One night after a drinking binge, one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex. This sets off a lustful passion in both men that “grabs hold of them” and which they find impossible to control. Rather than a sad symphony to a beautiful love that our homophobic society will not allow to show itself, this is a human tragedy in which their lust leads to the neglect of their work (i.e. sheep ravaged by wolves during the pair’s frolicking), infidelity against their wives (i.e. divorce, anger and grief) and the psychological harm inflicted on their children (i.e. sadness, alienation and grief). In the end, their lust even turns on their own relationship by the further infidelity of one of the two. Lust seeks to possess. Love seeks to liberate. This is a story of lust gone bad.
I wonder if the trend makers in Hollywood really think they know where this is leading us as we slide further and further down the slope of immorality. Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive. There is an agenda here, of that you can be sure. It is an agenda directly opposed to God’s and to the salvation offered in Jesus Christ.
We often say that Jesus takes us “up” to heaven, for that’s the direction to which he points. A slippery slope, on the other hand, takes us in a downward direction precisely because of the laws of Nature. By opposing those laws of Nature, “Brokeback Mountain” pushes us along the descending slope, forcing our society to ask, “Which way do we want to go?”
Nienstedt admonished Catholics for attending a conference meant to build bridges between religion and the LGBT community:
Coming to Minnesota this month is a group called “New Ways Ministry” which intends to challenge the Truth of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, specifically in regard to persons of same-sex inclinations. This group is meeting from March 16-18 in Minneapolis and no doubt there will be plenty of media coverage in our local areas. The group has already portrayed themselves as “Catholic leaders, ministers, theologians, clergy and lay people, educators, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual) advocates, family members and supporters.” By doing so, they have compromised their Catholic identity in rejecting the Church’s constant teaching. Complicating this scene is the scheduled appearance of priests, religious sisters and even three retired bishops who will be involved in the presentations. Their very presence at this gathering is a source of grave scandal.Today’s “gay agenda” advocates, including many persons in the media, want you to believe that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality with only a slight variation. They have cleverly sought refuge under the umbrella of “civil rights.” Neither assertion is true and both must be challenged.
In a letter to the Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesean newspaper, Nienstedt wrote:
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. 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.
Nienstedt blocked Carol and Bob Curoe, co-authors of Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story, from a speaking engagement on October 22 at St. Frances Cabrini.
Nienstedt blocked St. Joan of Arc Church from holding a LGBT prayer service the weekend of Twin Cities Pride.
Nienstedt considered labeling Father Tegeder “disabled” in order to censor his pro-equality message and remove him from ministry, according to whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger:
I can personally attest that the Archbishop was aware of this fact, because I wrote at least two memos to him on this subject between 2010 and 2011, at the prompting of Father Laird, who wanted the Archbishop to declare Father Michael Tegeder disabled as a means of silencing his opposition to the Archbishop’s efforts to promote a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage
Nienstedt gave a homily at an Edina church advocating against marriage equality.
Nienstedt organized a conference with a panel of anti-LGBT Catholic activists.
Nienstedt penned a commentary in the Star Tribune against marriage equality:
We all know that not all children live in the ideal situation. Many parents are doing a magnificent job working hard to raise children in less than ideal circumstances. Every son or daughter is a child of God who deserves our concern. But gay marriage would certainly be a declaration by the government that we have officially abandoned the ideal that children need both a mom and dad.
Nienstedt told a Catholic mother to reject her gay son or her eternal salvation would be at risk. The letter stated in part:
I write to inform you that the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality,a s described in paragraphs 2357 and 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is rooted in Scripture and based on the Natural Moral Law. It, therefore, shares in God’s revelation to us. Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching. Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
Indeed, some might find this is a hard saying by many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such. I urge you to reconsider the position that you expressed in your letter. Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on this topic.
In the run-up to the 2010 gubernatorial election, Nienstedt sent out approximately 400,000 DVDs and mailings urging Catholics to vote for Republican Tom Emmer, the only candidate in the race who opposed marriage equality for same-sex couples and a staunch Catholic.
Nienstedt ordered priests to deny communion to people wearing a rainbow sash in support of LGBT rights.
Nienstedt blocked a fundraising dinner for a ministry working to bridge the gap between religion and the LGBT community at St. Frances Cabrini.
Nienstedt ordered parishes to create committees in support of an anti-gay marriage amendment. In a letter sent to parishes Nienstedt wrote, “It is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the church’s teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass-roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of this amendment.” The letter also directed priests to “appoint a captain or co-chairs to lead a special parish ad hoc committee to spearhead this effort.”
Nienstedt sent a letter to pro-equality Father Tegeder of St. Francis of Cabrini Church threatening to suspend him: “If you choose not to offer your resignation, but continue to act openly or speak publicly about your opposition to Church teaching, I will suspend your faculties to exercise ministry and remove you from your ministerial assignments.”
Nienstedt ordered Minnesota priests to support or stay silent on anti-gay-marriage amendment. The letter stated in part:
It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.
Neinstedt issued anti-gay marriage amendment prayer to be said in every Catholic church in the state:
“We must educate our fellow citizens on the meaning and good of marriage,” he said. “We must actively and resolutely promote widespread participation among our fellow believers in the support of a marriage amendment. And most importantly, we must pray and offer sacrifice for the success of all endeavors that seek to protect and promote marriage.”
Nienstedt coordinated “marriage” talks at Catholic high schools that included anti-LGBT content. The Star Tribune reported at the time:
“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”Hannah, who is adopted, said one of the presenters said that adopted kids were “sociologically unstable.” She called the comments “hurtful” and comparisons between gay love and bestiality upsetting.
“My friend said, ‘You didn’t just compare people to animals, did you?’” said Hannah. “I think everyone has a right to their opinion, and I don’t judge them on it. But we don’t force people to sit down so we can tell them their opinion is wrong.”
Nienstedt sent a letter to Minnesota priests urging them to urge lay Catholics to vote ‘yes’ on an anti-gay marriage amendment:
“But the reality is that marriage is not ours to redefine, just as another human life is not ours to take,” the archbishop continues. “God is both the author of life and the author of marriage. It is this most fundamental understanding of the natural order that animates who we are as Catholics. … It is also why we fight to defend God’s plan for marriage, because his providence is as clear for what marriage is as it is for the dignity of each human life. …
“Now, Minnesota for Marriage needs your help to get the message out. We must ensure that Minnesotans know what is at stake and have the correct information about why they should vote ‘Yes’ for the marriage amendment. (Remember that if you leave the ballot box blank, the government votes ‘No’ for you!).”
Nienstedt sends a letter to Catholics asking for money to campaign for the anti-gay marriage amendment.
Nienstedt and the Archdiocese spent more than $2 million on anti-gay marriage amendment that was defeated.
In a speech at a Catholic conference, Nienstedt claims that Satan is behind gay marriage:
“Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life,” Nienstedt said. “Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization. The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on earth.”
Nienstedt forced the resignation of gay music director after the teacher and his partner married
Nienstedt blocked a church from hosting LGBT Catholic youth event