[Hat-tip to Catholic World News]
[Minnesota pro-homo-marriage pol] Mark Ritchie gets uninvited [by archdiocesan authorities] from [liberal] Catholic [parish] speaking engagement
By Doug Belden
August 1, 2012
After consultation with archdiocese officials, a Roman Catholic church in Minneapolis has rescinded a speaking invitation for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is at the center of controversies surrounding constitutional amendments on this fall’s ballot.
Minnesota’s top election official, Ritchie was invited to speak before Mass on Aug. 12 at St. Joan of Arc Church in South Minneapolis. His talk was titled “A Spiritual Path for Democracy.”
Jim Accurso, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said Ritchie was not expected to address the constitutional amendments in his talk. But because he’s been a high-profile target of amendment-related criticism, his appearance is “just not appropriate,” Accurso said.
“The invitation to him is in the process of being withdrawn,” Accurso said Tuesday, July 31. “He will not be speaking on the 12th.”
Archdiocese policy allows local churches to invite political candidates or government officials at their discretion, as long as they comply with guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those guidelines relate primarily to partisan campaigning.
The guidelines say constitutional amendment ballot questions are considered legislative proposals and Catholic organizations’ involvement is “limited, not prohibited.”
Accurso said the archdiocese learned of the situation through a call from the Pioneer Press, though he said there may have also been a call to the archdiocese from a parishioner raising concerns.
Calls to St. Joan’s officials and to Ritchie’s office were not returned.
Ritchie, who is not on the November ballot, is the named as a defendant in three lawsuits now before the state Supreme Court related to the two constitutional amendments that voters will be asked to consider.
One amendment would add a definition of marriage as an opposite-sex union; the other would require voters to show photo ID at the polls.
Ritchie has been criticized by GOP lawmakers who accuse him of misusing his office by campaigning against the voter ID amendment.
The Catholic church has been a big financial backer of the marriage amendment.
St. Joan’s, which is seen as among the archdiocese’s more liberal parishes, has clashed with the church hierarchy over speakers before.
In 2004, the church was asked to end its practice of having unordained guests speak during Mass. That was a year after then-Archbishop Harry Flynn canceled plans for a homily to be delivered at St. Joan’s by the Rev. Mel White, an ordained minister in a denomination founded by gays and lesbians.
And in 1978, St. Joan’s decision to bring in feminist and activist Gloria Steinem to speak from the pulpit drew a rebuke from then-Archbishop John Roach.