Archbishop John Nienstedt may be one of the prominent public faces of the proposed constitutional amendment to lock in a ban on same-sex marriage, but that doesn't mean all Catholics are on board his proverbial bus.
Southwest Minneapolis resident Michael Bayly is one of those. He heads up a group called Catholics For Marriage Equality MN, that's calling on Nienstedt to stop pushing the amendment and redirect his efforts "toward actions that reflect Jesus' Gospel call to care for the poor and marginalized." And they're backing that up with a weekly vigil outside the Nienstedt's residence every Sunday during Lent.
"We're not so much concerned about changing the church," Bayly told Patch. "To be honest I don’t care if the hierarchy never has same-sex marriage within the church, but what I find disturbing is them going beyond the church and imposing their view on the rest of society."
The issue is a sensitive one for Southwest Minneapolis Catholics. Even parishioners at churches well-known for their social justice activism didn't want to speak on-record about how the Archbishop's push to pass the amendment has gone over in their congregations. Privately, though, they say it's been about as popular as a skunk at a cocktail party among area churches.
Part of the issue, they say, is the Archbishop's efforts to push all churches to toe his line, including a directive for all churches to form a committee to advocate for the amendment. Local Catholics say the church has traditionally been more of a "big tent," allowing congregations to develop different political orientations. An Archdiocesan spokesperson has in the past accused Bayly and his group of trying to "mislead" Catholics.
"There's always a sort of flash of anger that they’re dismissing you so readily and unfairly," Bayly said. "I always remind myself that these people don’t represent (the opinions of) the majority of Cathoics and what they think about matters of sexuality or contraception."
While Bayly's group attracted only about 80 people for their first outing on Feb. 26, he said he hopes it and sibling efforts in St Cloud will grow.