An openly gay priest on Sunday urged Catholics to go against the Pope's wishes and vote "no" a November ballot measure that would enshrine Minnesota's same sex marriage ban in the state's Constitution.
Father Bob Pierson argued that Paragraph 1782 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church allows Catholics to make their own decisions in cases where their conscience is not in agreement with the church's doctrine.
The priest recalled that a "young theologian" named Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope, used to teach that people should follow their own inner voice.
"Our Holy Father taught in 1967 that we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope," Pierson told the crowd of about 200 Catholics at an event in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. "I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that."
"As Catholics we must follow our own conscience in making decisions such as how to vote," he continued. "My conscience tells me to vote no on the amendment because I have yet to hear a convincing reason why we need such an amendment to our state constitution. In fact, I believe the church does not have the right to force its moral teaching on others outside the fold."
"Too many of us have been thought to think of God in terms of God's judgement, rather than God's tremendous love and mercy," Pierson explained. "I believe this amendment violates an important principle in Catholic teaching, and that as Catholics, we can vote no."
St. Joseph's Catholic School in Moorhead, Minnesota recently fired Trish Cameron, who had taught there for 11 years, because she disagreed with the church's position on marriage equality.
A survey (PDF) released last week by Public Policy Polling indicated that the measure adding marriage discrimination to the Minnesota Constitution was on track to be defeated, with 49 percent opposed and only 43 percent in favor.
(h/t: The Huffington Post)