"The church has always gotten into trouble when it seeks to separate the pure from the impure," said Tegeder, whose suburban congregation emerged unscathed from the reorganization plans. "Jesus cautions us to be careful in weeding and judging."
Tegeder and some other priests have argued the Catholic Church could quickly resolve its problem with declining numbers of priests if it allowed married clergy. But "I personally don't see that happening," Nienstedt said.
One church on the list of those to be closed and merged with several nearby churches is St. Clement, in Minneapolis. its pastor, the Rev. Earl Simonson, said he's not sure if the building will actually shut down or still be used for some services, though under the archdiocese's approach it will at minimum lose its name.
"We just wait for the great archbishop to tell us what we're doing," Simonson said. "We're mere flunkies."
Still, Simonson did not take issue with Nienstedt's conviction that smaller isn't necessarily less desirable for the Catholic Church.
"That's what I was taught in seminary," Simonson said. "If you don't want to be Catholic, then get out. The archbishop is right about that. Human nature being what it is, you'll always have some who think they can be half in and half out."