Church postpones talk by Minn. official who rewrote marriage amendment

Minn. State Secretary Mark Ritchie. Credit: Johnathan Miller via (CC BY 2.0).
Minn. State Secretary Mark Ritchie. Credit: Johnathan Miller via (CC BY 2.0).

.- A Catholic church in Minneapolis has postponed a talk by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is facing criticism for rewriting the title of the state marriage amendment in a way that could undermine its success.

Dennis Heaney, a spokesperson for St. Joan of Arc Church, said the talk had been postponed because the media attention meant that there “wouldn’t be an environment conducive towards the talk.”

Ritchie had been scheduled to speak ahead of an Aug. 12 Mass at St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis on the subject “A Spiritual Path for Democracy.”

His actions toward the state’s marriage amendment, which is strongly backed by the state’s Catholic bishops, have drawn criticism from those who support the proposal.

Minnesota’s Republican-controlled legislature put the marriage amendment on the ballot with the title “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman.”

Ritchie rewrote the amendment’s title to read “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”

Legislators have filed a lawsuit to reinstate the original title, contending that the change is intended to sway voters.

Heaney defended the choice of Ritchie for St. Joan of Arc’s pre-Mass talk.

“What Mr. Ritchie has done in his job as Secretary of State wasn’t in any way relevant to his talk at St. Joan of Arc and it really has no bearing on what we are doing here,” he told CNA Aug. 2.

“The marriage amendment wasn’t even in the discussion. He does have, as a non-political person, an interesting topic to deliver. I don’t think these two are connected in any manner, shape or form.”

Heaney said the talk “really follows the bishops’ document on faithful citizenship.”

The U.S. bishops’ 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” intends to guide Catholics on their responsibilities as citizens.

“We were just trying to expand and draw a little deeper on that document and on that topic,” Heaney said.

The Catholic bishops of Minnesota have backed the marriage amendment for several years to prevent the legislative or judicial branches of the Minnesota government from redefining marriage. In 2010 they launched a DVD mailing campaign to rally support for the amendment.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of Minneapolis-St. Paul said that marriage “reflects God’s plan for man and woman to share in his creative power of brining life into the world.” Children “flourish best” with both a mother and a father, he said in a June 2011 column.

Opponents of the marriage amendment have tried to counter the bishops' efforts in what some have called an attempt to split Catholic voters.