Roman Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt is a genius. Stay with me here.
I’ve been struggling to reconcile the Archbishop’s fervent support of the Marriage Amendment and his intolerance of any form of dissent from his flock including the priestly shepherds that tend his parishes, with the catholic teachings of Jesus Christ I received in Catholic grade school.
My unsuccessful attempts to do so were wearing on me until a recent jog around Lake Harriet took me past the occasional “another catholic voting no” yard sign. Then it hit me. This guy is a freakin’ genius. Think about it. What is the easiest way to get a Catholic to do something? Tell him he can’t. So what does the Archbishop do? He tells his flock not to oppose the Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. Brilliant. Tell me adultery is a sin and I want to adult all over the place. I must keep holy the Sabbath? Now you can’t keep me from raking those leaves on Sunday.
But this may not be enough. Catholics aren’t easily roused from their Sunday morning sleepwalk to and from church. So this human behavioral savant goes even further. He tells you that if you are a good Catholic, you will not dissent. You will keep your mouth shut and do as you’re told, or risk eternal damnation. Very clever. We should put this guy on the childhood obesity problem. We’d be losing kids down sewer grates they’d be so skinny.
Of course, you can lead a Catholic to communion, but you can’t make him drink (the wine). We’re going to need more of the Archbishop’s reverse psychology. Or would it be reverse theology? Regardless, this man of God knows he needs to stoke more indignation in these sacramental somnambulists. So he drafts condescending letters read at masses throughout the Archdiocese by priests, some of whom may even secretly oppose the amendment. Genius. Do or say what you will to me, but silence my beloved priest and make him take part in these kabuki sermons and I am just about ready to go out and buy a lawn sign.
Not enough? You’re right. Plant a priest and a married couple in high school auditoriums to address the topic with high school seniors eligible to vote in November. Then, secretly instruct the couple to equate homosexuality with bestiality. See what he’s doing here? If you can’t light a fire under these people, go after their kids. That’ll make them “oppose you.” (wink, wink) And just to be safe, point a reporter in the direction of a two-year-old response to a woman with a gay son and highlight the passage where the Archbishop mentions her eternal salvation is in jeopardy. Wow.
Do you get it now? He is obviously using Jesuit jujitsu to get the Catholic faithful to oppose the amendment. The alternative is just too soulless to even consider. I realize that by uncovering the Archbishop’s genius, I hazard curtailing his plan’s effectiveness. But I’ve heard so many fellow Catholics wrestling with this, I think it’s worth the risk to give them some peace between now and November. So fear not Minnesota Catholics, Archbishop Nienstedt has a plan, and it’s working. Just maybe not the way most people think.