Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a piece yesterday entitled “Future archbishop’s compassion stops short when it comes to gays.”

John Nienstedt, Coadjutor Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and is scheduled to succeed retiring Archbishop Harry Flynn in May, has been quoted as saying he believes, “Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil..If they do so knowingly and willingly, [they] are guilty of mortal sin.”

Coleman says Nienstedt’s comments are “inflicting trauma” on friends and relatives of gay and lesbian people in the Twin Cities.

Nienstedt’s views, a church spokesman said, merely reflect Catholic teachings as delineated in The Catechism of the Catholic Church which also requires individual homosexuals to be accepted with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

The catechism, in my reading, says homosexual acts cannot be approved but does not label them a “grave evil.” Homosexuals, like all baptized persons, are “called to chastity.” But somehow, the sins of homosexuals always get denounced before the sins of straight people. And if gays must be accepted with compassion and respect, those qualities seem notably missing from Nienstedt’s statement.

“He’s the only archbishop in the country to put this aggressive of a spin on Catholic teaching,” says Mary Lynn Murphy of Catholic Rainbow Parents. “We knew he was very conservative, but people had hoped that he wanted to bring people together. Then, right out of the chute, he fired this cannon. It’s extreme talk, and it gives license not just to homophobia but even to violence. This bishop says gays are ‘evil.'”

Firstly, he didn’t say gays are evil. They just made that up and Nick Coleman, the fair reporter that he is, just let that go out there. As far as the Catechism goes, homosexuality is called a “grave depravity.” And the reason that the Church seems to bring it up is that the homosexuals are currently fighting to normalize their inclinations. You don’t see many people running around saying adultery is good and should be accepted.

But as Nienstedt prepares to succeed Flynn, who tried to steer a less confrontational course, gay Catholics and their families are feeling more and more isolated.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” says Brian McNeill of Dignity Twin Cities, a group of gay Catholics who have been pushing for acceptance in the church. “They want us to go away, to make the church so hostile for the gay and lesbian community that we won’t want to be there anymore.

“And it is working.”

Is this reporter ever going to speak to someone who agrees with Nienstedt?

This Sunday, members of the GLBT family plan to hold a 2 p.m. vigil on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul to demonstrate against Nienstedt’s comments, and to deliver an open letter to the Chancery, across Summit Avenue from the Cathedral.

For Mary Lynn Murphy, who has been cursed, spat at and manhandled by good churchgoers in the past as she demonstrated on behalf of her grown gay son, it is important to speak up and show up.

“It is a human right to express your sexuality,” says Murphy, who met last week with Catholic parents of gays who were in tears over Nienstedt’s statements on homosexuality.

With whom? That would be the question. If it’s a human right to express our sexuality, shouldn’t the next question be whether it would be ok for pedophiles to “express their sexuality.” Or how about polygamists?

This is just another wonderful example of a high and mighty self-righteous columnist saying the Church has no right to decipher right from wrong while the columnist preaches to the Church about what’s right and what’s wrong. And not seeing the irony.