John C. Nienstedt, the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has ordered priests to get behind a proposed gay marriage ban or remain silent, the Washington Independent reported.

Voters in November will decide on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a heterosexual union in the state.

In a private speech to priests given last October and leaked to the Progressive Catholic Voice, Nienstedt said, “There ought not be open dissension on this issue.”

“It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.”

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Archdiocese's lobbying wing, is a member of the Minnesota for Marriage Coalition, the largest group lobbying for the amendment's passage.