Earlier this week, I reported on a 2010 letter written by Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt to the mother of a gay son. When the woman contacted him and pleaded for acceptance on her son’s behalf, Nienstedt responded by warning that her eternal salvation was potentially at risk unless she changed her view and accepted the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings — essentially demanding that she choose between accepting her son and saving her soul.
The awful story apparently caused enough of a stir to attract the attention of Chris Kluwe, a Minnesota Vikings football star who also happens to be an amazing spokesperson for marriage equality. This outspoken ally responded in an eloquent letter to Nienstedt and Pope Benedict XVI that Kluwe posted on his blog:
Do you presume to speak for God, Archbishop Nienstedt? Will you tell these children, faithful children who attend Sunday school and earnestly pray every day, that they are somehow lessened in God’s eyes? Will you grasp that millstone, Archbishop Nienstedt, grasp it all the way to the bottom, clutching at the heavy weight of earthly power and influence even as it drags you down?
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Tell me, Archbishop, Pope, what purpose does the Church serve attempting to influence the affairs of a secular state? The federal benefits under law currently denied gay couples certainly fall under the realm of Caesar, don’t they? No one is forcing the Catholic Church to marry gay couples if that is not the Church’s wish. You can keep the sanctity of Catholic marriage solely between heterosexual couples if you feel that is what’s required (again though, I caution you on the dangers of presumed infallibility). All we are asking is for you to extend the open hand of tolerance instead of the closed fist of fear and hate. As American citizens, we respect the right for everyone to practice whichever religion they so choose, including the right to not practice one at all. Haven’t we learned enough from the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Talibans of the world? What does it benefit the Church to attempt to influence secular policy in this country, especially when that influence is to deny basic human rights to others? Will you now assume Caesar’s throne, grasping the transitory ephemera of worldly power and control, while forsaking the eternal kingdom of Heaven?
I’m not a religious man, but the only thing I can think to say in response is a big, resounding “amen!”