Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s scheduled speech at a Minneapolis Catholic church this month has been postponed in the wake of his controversial efforts to change wording of proposed constitutional amendments, church officials say.
Leaders at St. Joan of Arc initially said Wednesday morning their invitation to hear Ritchie talk before mass on Aug. 12 had not been rescinded.
But a spokesman for the church later confirmed in the afternoon Ritchie’s talk entitled “A Spiritual Path for Democracy” would likely be rescheduled sometime after the Nov. 6 election.
St. Joan spokesman Dennis Heaney said Ritchie’s talk had attracted “such media attention we figured out of courtesy to our community and Mr. Ritchie it’s best to postpone at this time.”
“It really has generated ... such a furor, we thought we just have to back off from this. It was really meant to be ...kind of a learning opportunity for our parishioners. We just have to back away from this now and let things kind of quiet down before we even thing about rescheduling it.”
Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Accurso maintained Wednesday morning the invitation to Ritchie was in the process of being rescinded. Minnesota Catholic bishops have been fierce supporters of the proposed marriage amendment.
Ritchie, a Democrat, is seeking to rewrite titles for both the marriage and photo ID amendments, but supporters of the amendments argue the changes are politically motivated, misleading and could hinder chances for passage.
With the marriage amendment, the Republican-controlled Legislature originally titled it “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman.” Ritchie’s title is: “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”
At least three lawsuits challenging Ritchie’s title changes have been brought before the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Heaney said Ritchie was not expected to address the constitutional amendments in his talk at the church. He said St. Joan’s was not pressured by the archdiocese to postpone Ritchie’s talk.
Ritchie’s office did not immediately issue a comment about his postponed talk at the church.