Updated (2): In MN, A Legislator Insults and Threatens a Parish Priest over Marriage Vote (+How We Can Respond)By
I wrote yesterday about the efforts in Minnesota to pass a bill that would allow the people of that state to vote to define marriage in 2012, and noted that the Minnesota Catholic Conference is supportive of these efforts.
As part of this initiative, one local Catholic pastor, Rev. John Echert of Holy Trinity/Saint Augustine Parish, wrote his representative —Freshman State Rep. John Kriesel [R-Cottage Grove]— urging him to reconsider his opposition to allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on the issue. Kriesel is currently the lone Republican in the MN Legislature who has said he opposes allowing the people to vote.
Here’s the response Rev. Echert received from Rep. Kriesel’s staffer “Tyler” (note how he begins by refusing to call Rev. Echert by his proper title):
Actually, “Tyler” has his laws wrong. Tax exempt (501c3) organizations can spend up to 10% of their annual budget on “lobbying” and the Church never needs permission to speak up on moral issues (such as marriage and family).
But it gets worse: Rev. Echert writes in his parish bulletin (PDF) that “Representative Kriesel stands by this response and stated that he does not care if this exchange is made public in his parish” (emphasis mine).
Well, Rep Kriesel’s insulting response and threat to a Catholic priest is about to get a lot more public…
Fr. Echert asks his parish – and I would ask you – to let Representative John Kriesel know your views on the issue of the protection of marriage and also let him know your opinion of his attitude towards Church activism on moral issues. You can contact Rep Kriesel by…
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (yes, the ending really is “.mn”)
Fr. Echert asks – and I ask – that all correspondence sent to the Representative be respectful and charitable, as befitting all Christians. I would add: and let it be firm.
We cannot afford to sit idly by as our priests and Catholic parishes are silenced and our combined Catholic moral voice is pushed out of the public square.
Contact Rep. Kriesel, let him know that that insulting Catholic priests and trying to silence Catholic voices is unacceptable. And tell him that he needs to stand up for the right of Minnesotans to define marriage as between one man and one woman, thereby protecting the common good of families, children and society.
UPDATE: This is the canned response being given to the (many!) folks who have emailed Rep. Kriesel’s office over this:
Thank you for following up with us with your concerns. Since the initial exchange, Father Echert and I have been in contact and have cleared things up. The original email was misinterpreted and we have since come to an understanding. It was never meant to be any manner of threat and no manner of disrespect was intended whatsoever. If you have any further questions I would be happy to help you. Thanks!Tyler
A big papist THANK YOU to everyone who quickly took action on this! I’m working to confirm that things are indeed being resolved.
Of course, Rep. Kriesel has still not changed his tune publicly on allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on marriage, so that remains a good reason to keep contacting him!
UPDATE 2: Kathleen Gilbert at LifeSiteNews reports (emphasis mine):
Rev. Echert told LifeSiteNews.com that he had received an apology from Kriesel’s staff, but he also said the issue was not one of communication. “I wouldn’t describe it as a misunderstanding, I think he started to realized that he had been really rude,” said Echert. Kriesel himself has not apologized, he said.
The priest added that it appeared Kriesel’s office was getting “inundated” with negative feedback – and that the clash was not altogether a bad thing.
“In one sense I think sometimes you gotta hold somebody’s feet to the fire so that they wake up a bit,” he said, noting also the need for the faithful to be aware that “there are people who want to take away their rights.”