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Document: Archdiocese Considered Silencing Priest

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A canon lawyer who became a whistleblower against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says church officials considered silencing a critic by declaring him to be disabled.

In a sworn statement released Tuesday, Jennifer Haselberger alleged that a former top deputy to Archbishop John Nienstedt proposed declaring the Rev. Michael Tegeder disabled to silence his opposition to the archbishop's efforts to promote a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. She said in her affidavit that the archbishop is the only person with the power to declare a priest disabled, and no medical diagnosis is necessary.

Tegeder told The Associated Press that the affidavit was the first he'd heard of the idea of silencing him.

"It's laughable. ... That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," said Tegeder, who serves as pastor at St. Francis Cabrini Church in Minneapolis and has been calling for Nienstedt to step down for some time.

Tegeder said that if top church officials had a problem with his opposition to the marriage amendment, they should have had an "adult conversation."

"It's like Soviet psychiatry. They send you away to some re-education camp," he said.

The archdiocese did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what Haselberger said about Tegeder specifically, but Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said in a statement reacting generally to the affidavit that Haselberger's "recollections are not always shared by others within the archdiocese."

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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