A Shepherd Gone Astray

It’s a bit hard to imagine that Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis could still go farther than he already has in his appalling and shameful attacks on innocent Christian gay men and women, but sad to say, it is true.

We are by now used to hearing our shepherd’s condemnations of gays and lesbians as morally unacceptable: that their same-sex intimacy, branded as the “gay lifestyle,” is sinful; and that anyone giving support to these loving relationships is also participating in sin as well.

Now, it appears that he will even prevent Catholics from praying for and with gays and lesbians, and has banned a religious prayer service. One has to wonder what possess a religious leader to so fundamentally turn against the very Gospel of Jesus that he has been entrusted to live and ordained to defend.

What leads a spiritual shepherd to willingly inflict so much pain and hurt on the very innocent ones he has been called to love, protect, and nourish? What evil calamity in his life has confused and distorted his focus on God’s love, and seduced him into believing that some of God’s innocent children are worthy of love and inclusion, while some are not, and are deserving of exclusion, hate, and condemnation, not even worthy of prayer.

It is not enough for Christian gay brothers and sisters to quietly accept that our religious leaders are simply misguided, and to continue to live their Christian faith in Jesus in the privacy of family and friends as innocent victims of prejudice and hate. It is not enough for any Christian child of God to simply think that if hate, injustice, and exclusion don’t personally touch their lives, then they need not get involved.

Dorothy Day once said, “If they come for the innocent without stepping over our bodies, cursed be our religion and our life.” The time has come for all Christian brothers and sisters, gay and straight, to lay our bodies down in defense of the innocent, even if we look up, and see the foot of our shepherd gone astray.

Brad Huard

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