Archbishop Nienstedt Denies Communion to Gay Activists

The bishops really don’t want to deny communion to anyone unless they believe it’s absolutely necessary. 

Archbishop John Nienstedt (Minneapolis-St. Paul), however, denied communion to 25 students and members of the St. John’s Abbey community in Collegeville, MN.  They were wearing rainbow buttons and sashes in protest of the Church’s position on homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

As reported in the Star Tribune:

The St. John’s action was coordinated by students, including members of People Representing the Sexual Minority (PRiSM), which represents gay and lesbian students and their friends and allies. That Sunday, according to those at the mass, about two dozen worshipers positioned themselves to receive communion from Nienstedt, who was saying his first student mass at the abbey. Some reached for the communion wafer but were denied it. Rather, the archbishop raised his hand in blessing.

The explanation of the denial was given by archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath who commented,

“You cannot receive communion if you wear the rainbow sash, because it’s a political statement, a sign of protest. Going to the communion rail is the most sacred part of our faith, the Eucharist. We don’t allow anybody to make political statements or any kind of protest.”

The protest was stirred up by the decision of the Minnesota bishops to distribute 400,000 DVDs through the parishes of the state to explain the Church’s opposition to homosexual marriage.

Here’s a very interesting transcript of Archbishop Nienstedt’s interview with Minnesota public radio on the issue of homosexual marriage. The hostility of the interviewer, Tom Crann, is more than obvious.

But the Archbishop is no man to be bullied by an interviewer, and he more than held his own.

For example:

Crann: If same-sex marriage is a ‘dangerous risk,’ as you put it, in society, wouldn’t also divorce, as well, be such a risk?

Nienstedt: Obviously. That’s obvious. And it has been a dangerous risk and it is a dangerous risk to our society today.

Crann: And yet there has been no effort from the Catholic Church over the years to outlaw divorce.

Nienstedt: No, the church doesn’t permit divorce. I don’t know – the use of your word ‘outlaw.’

Crann: In a civic sense.

Nienstedt: But divorce is not acceptable. Divorce is not part of our teaching, no.

Crann: No, but in a civil sense. And I suppose what I’m saying is there has been a difference historically in the secular and civil world with marriage and divorce and in the context of the Catholic Church and other churches, too. And I’m wondering if there always will be that difference or do you want to see the civil definition of marriage be more aligned with your church’s definition.

Nienstedt: There is no difference between the civil and the religious definition of marriage because marriage comes to us by virtue of creation and our creator. And so the state does not establish marriage. Marriage came long before there was any government.

And so this is a natural reality, and it’s defined by the natural law, what we call the natural law. And so it precedes any government. And government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife in order to give it a context for the raising of children and the protection of children.

At that point, Crann knew he was in over his head and backed off.

Deal W. Hudson


Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of "Church and Culture," a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ Formerly publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine for ten years, his articles and comments have been published widely in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. He has also appeared on TV and radio news shows such as the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, NBC News, and All Things Considered on National Public Radio. Hudson worked with Karl Rove in coordinating then-Gov. George W. Bush's outreach to Catholic voters in 2000 and 2004. In October 2003, President Bush appointed him a member of the official delegation from the United States to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II's papacy. Hudson, a former professor of philosophy for 15 years, is the editor and author of eight books. He tells the story of his conversion from Southern Baptist to Catholic in An American Conversion (Crossroad, 2003), and his latest, Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States, was published in March 2008. He is married to Theresa Carver Hudson, also a Baptist convert, and they have two children, Hannah and Cyprian who was adopted from Romania in 2001.

  • Maria P

    Thank God that there are still shepherds with a backbone! Archbishop Nienstedt is showing the courage that so many other bishops lack, the ones who care more about being popular than being faithful or caring for the souls of their flock. May God continue to grant him the strength and courage he needs to keep defending his truth. He inspires us to keep being faithful.

    My prayers are with him!

  • Kay Sheldon

    Thank you for defending the truth.

  • Paul Jacob

    From this day on, I will pray daily for Archbishop Nienstedt that this Warrior of our Faith may do great work for the defense of Church.

  • Micha Elyi

    Catholic News Agency has made the contents of Archbishop Nienstedt’s talk on the DVD available for online viewing.

    A Google search for that video revealed open opposition to the Church’s teaching and Archbishop Nienstedt is rampant in his diocese.

    Paul Jacob is correct. Archbishop Nienstedt needs our prayers.

  • Felicia

    Mr. Hudson has no business throwing boulders at divorced and gay Catholics, given his own TWO divorces, and cheating on his THIRD wife. Gays are proof of God creating in-between genders, and corrupt “straight” HYPOCRITES should have the Christian decency to leave gays alone. Mr. Hudson will have more moral credibility when he returns to his only lawful FIRST wife. I also demand Archbishop Nienstedt medically prove “his” own alleged gender and chastity!

  • Andy

    So, what do you say of Nienstedt’s statement, Felicia? I saw no commentary by Deal at all here, nevermind “throwing boulders.”

    Nienstedt owes you exactly nothing. Please don’t be obtuse.