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Nienstedt forces out gay music director

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Archbishop Nienstedt
The Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis John Nienstedt walked with other opponents of legalized abortion during a vigil and protest outside of Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minn. Friday, April 18, 2014.
Jeffrey Thompson/MPR News

Archbishop John Nienstedt has asked the music director of a parish in Victoria, Minn., to resign after learning that the man married his long-time male partner last weekend, according to a letter from the parish priest.

"Our beloved Director of Music, Jamie Moore, married his long-time partner Garrett this past weekend," the Rev. Bob White, of St. Victoria Catholic Church, wrote in a letter to parishioners posted on the parish website this week. "Since Jamie's marriage conflicts with official Church teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt asked for Jamie's resignation."

The letter said that Moore "has indicated that he intends to go along with the Archbishop's request. Jamie will be sorely missed, and we wish him every happiness."

Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

In a written statement to MPR News, Nienstedt said he was "consulted about the employment matter and I responded by saying the teachings of the Church must be upheld, including the pastoral response of working with an employee whose actions are contrary to the Catholic faith."

Nienstedt, who is known nationally for his opposition to same-sex marriage, has argued that the unions violate Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage. He has also said that "homosexual inclination is a result of some psychological trauma" that occurs before the age of 3. 

In his statement Tuesday, Nienstedt said, "My role as shepherd of the local Catholic Church is to proclaim the Gospel in its fullness and to guide Church decisions as much as I can in ways that are harmony with Gospel teaching. Sometimes, those decisions are painful and difficult, but they are made for the sake of upholding the values that we have received from Christ and His Apostles."

Nienstedt continues to face calls for his resignation from parishioners and victims of clergy sex abuse over his handling of abuse complaints. 

MPR News reported last year that Nienstedt had approved secret payments to priests who had admitted to sexually assaulting children, kept priests in ministry despite allegations of child sex abuse and failed to warn parishioners about the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer's sexual interest in younger men. Wehmeyer is now in prison for sexually assaulting two sons of a parish employee and possessing child pornography.

Full statement from Nienstedt:

"It would be inappropriate for me to comment publicly on a parish personnel matter as I am not involved in employment issues at the parish level. In terms of the situation at St. Victoria, I was consulted about the employment matter and I responded by saying the teachings of the Church must be upheld, including the pastoral response of working with an employee whose actions are contrary to the Catholic faith.

I can share that all church employees are bound by the Code of Conduct which states  'The public and private conduct of church employees can inspire and motivate people, but it can also scandalize and undermine their faith. Church employees must, at all times, recognize and accept the responsibilities that accompany their ministry.'

Justice in Employment, which is a basic employment policy of the archdiocese and all its parishes, states as a reason for immediate discharge: 'Public conduct which is inconsistent with the faith, morals, teachings, and laws of the Catholic Church.'

My role as shepherd of the local Catholic Church is to proclaim the Gospel in its fullness and to guide Church decisions as much as I can in ways that are harmony with Gospel teaching. Sometimes, those decisions are painful and difficult, but they are made for the sake of upholding the values that we have received from Christ and His Apostles."