205 – Lay Speakers and Honorees – Approval Process

Last Updated: 1/29/2013

January 29, 2013
Volume I, Number 1


Reverend and dear Fathers,

As diocesan bishop, I have been entrusted with the responsibility of defending the integrity and unity of the Catholic faith (canon 386, §2). Within this responsibility lies the obligation to ensure that when a forum is provided for a discussion of matters of faith, those invited to present do so in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Church and in harmony with the pastoral direction that I have established for this Archdiocese.

To assist me in fulfilling this obligation, and to assist pastors of parishes and others entrusted with the administration of Catholic schools and institutions, I am promulgating the following policy, which applies to any lay person who is invited to present on matters of faith, spirituality, and/or morals in a parish, school, or other Catholic institution, or who will be presenting on the same topics in a forum that is promoted by Catholic parishes, schools, or institutions.

In addition, consistent with the policy established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I affirm that Catholic parishes, schools, and institutions should not honor those who have publicly acted in opposition to fundamental Catholic moral teachings. Such public actions include but are not limited to public records of voting, financial support, or statements that have been made which are in direct conflict with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. In order to avoid giving the appearance of endorsing such actions, individuals who have acted in this manner should not be presented with awards, honors, or given a platform for speaking, regardless of the topic of their presentation or the substance of their body of work.

From this day forward, no invitations are to be extended to lay speakers or awards given without adherence to the protocols outlined below. For invitations to lay speakers that have already been extended, pastors and other administrators are asked to evaluate those decisions in light of this policy, and to make a reasonable attempt to conform to the principles outlined herein.

Given at Saint Paul, Minnesota, this 29th day of January, in the year of Our Lord 2013. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Jennifer Haselberger

Chancellor for Canonical Affairs


  1. Lay speakers, musicians, artists, and others who are from outside the Archdiocese or who are unknown to the pastor of the parish or administrator of the school or institution issuing the invitation, and who are being considered to present on topics of faith, spirituality, and/or morals, should receive the approval of the Chancery prior to a formal invitation being extended and the proposed event publicized.
  1. When a request is made to advertise an event on topics including faith, spirituality, and/or morals in a parish bulletin, on a parish website, or through marketing at a parish, school, or institution, approval to advertise the event should be sought from the Chancery, even if the event will not take place on Church property.
  1. Examples of events that may include topics of faith, spirituality, and/or morals include but are not limited to lectures or public addresses, theatrical performances, musical performances, and retreats.
  1. Individuals who are exempt from this policy are clergy with the faculties of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Archdiocesan employees, parish employees, and teachers and administrators of Catholic schools located in this Archdiocese. Events that are exempt from this policy as those sponsored by the Archdiocese or its affiliates.
  1. When extending an invitation to speak to a member of the clergy from outside the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the policy for visiting clergy should be followed. Bishops in communion with the Holy See do not require a Testimonial of Suitability nor Chancery approval. However, a courtesy notice to the Archbishop’s Office is expected.
  1. When the audience for the presentation or event will include children or young people, the provisions of the Archdiocesan safe environment program must be followed.
  1. Request for approval of a speaker should be sent to the Office of the Archbishop, care of the Office of Communications, no less than one month before the anticipated announcement of the event. The request should be sent from the pastor of the parish or administrator of the school or institution, and should include the date and location of the proposed presentation, a brief curriculum vitae of the speaker, a list of published works, and/or examples of past presentations including the topic and venue, as well as a statement of suitability issued by the speaker’s diocesan bishop or religious superior.
  1. Request for approval to advertise an event should also be sent to the Office of Communications, and should include all available information about the event.
  1. Every effort will be made to see that a response is made within a week of the receipt of the request.