Mpls. church postpones Ritchie's addressby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An on-again, off-again speech by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie at a Minneapolis Catholic church is off again.
Ritchie, a DFLer, was invited to speak at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis later this month about being an elected official as a person of faith. But the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis told reporters this week that the invitation had been rescinded.
Supporters of a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage accuse Ritchie of biased wording in the ballot title for the amendment. Minnesota voters will decide the question in the November election.
Then the Star Tribune quoted a St. Joan of Arc spokesman Wednesday morning, saying the parish had no plans to dis-invite Ritchie. Within hours, the parish reversed itself, saying the event was postponed.
"We've just decided that given the almost unbelievable and torrential attention it's been given, we thought it's better now for our parishioners, and for also Mr. Ritchie, to just postpone the talk," said Dennis Heaney, a spokesman for the parish.
St. Joan of Arc is widely seen as a liberal church, and the archdiocese is one of the leading supporters of the marriage amendment. Heaney said there is no dispute between the two parties.
"Absolutely not," he said. "They never came down heavy on us about this talk at all."
The parish has not decided when to reschedule Ritchie's speech. Ritchie has been "gracious" about the changes, Heaney said.
In a statement, Ritchie said: "I want to thank St. Joan of Arc Parish for their invitation to speak about my personal faith and how it has guided my public service. I certainly respect their decision to postpone my visit with their congregation and look forward to joining them at a later date."
Jim Accurso, a spokesman for the archdiocese, declined to answer questions Wednesday about the postponement of Ritchie's speech. He only said: "The parish made the decision."
On Tuesday, Accurso told MPR News he advised the parish to consider canceling the event. Wednesday, he said the archdiocese played no role in influencing St. Joan's.