Archbp. Vigneron: Catholics who push same-sex marriage should not receive Communion

A regular commentator here, the distinguish canonist Ed Peters, was quoted in an interesting article in the Detroit Free Press.

Archbp. Vigneron made a clear statement about receiving Holy Communion if you advocate same-sex marriage.

This is in the Freep:

Detroit-area Catholic leaders urge gay marriage supporters to skip Communion

A Detroit professor and legal adviser to the Vatican says Catholics who promote gay marriage should not try to receive holy Communion, a key part of Catholic identity.

And the archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, said Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would “logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.”  [Let’s use the other word: lie.]

The comments of Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are [Get this…] part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion. [I’d say the conclusion is obvious.]

In a post on his blog last week, Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, “Catholics who promote ‘same-sex marriage’ act contrary to” Catholic law “and should not approach for holy Communion,” he wrote. “They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them … being rebuked and/or being sanctioned.

Peters didn’t specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person’s “public efforts to change society’s definition of marriage … amount to committing objectively wrong actions.”  [The key here is “public”.  If you are out there as an activist in the public eye or a politician, and you are Catholic, and you are promoting or supporting things that are contrary to the laws of nature, God and His Church, then you must not approach for Communion and the proper ministers of Communion should deny it.]

Peters, an attorney and the Edmund Cardinal Szoka chairman at Sacred Heart, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to be a referendary of the Apostolic Sinatura, which means he helps advise the top judicial authority in the Catholic Church. Peters’ blog, “In Light of the Law,” is popular among Catholic experts, but not everyone agrees with his traditional views. [Who would they be? Liberals, open advocates of sodomy, progressivists, etc.]

“Most American bishops do not favor denying either politicians or voters Communion because of their positions on controversial issues,” said Thomas Reese, [lupus in fabula] a Catholic priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. Reese said that Peters’ views are “in a minority among American canon lawyers.”  [gratis asseritur, gratis negatur]

But, Reese added, “about 30 or so bishops have said that pro-choice or pro-gay-marriage Catholics should not present themselves for Communion.” [All that means is that 30 or so bishops have a backbone.]

Peters has said before that liberal Catholic Democrats, such as U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, should be denied Communion because of their statements and positions.

In 2011, Peters said that Cuomo should not receive Communion because he is an outspoken proponent of gay marriage. Last month, Peters said, “Pelosi suffers from one of the most malformed consciences in the annals of American Catholic politics or … she is simply hell-bent on using her Catholic identity to attack Catholic values at pretty much every opportunity.” [Sounds about right.]

In 2002, Catholic Jennifer Granholm’s support of abortion rights became an issue in the gubernatorial race a month before the election, when Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida released a letter saying Catholic politicians had a “special moral obligation” to oppose abortion.

Last month, Vigneron said at a news conference that maintaining views that oppose abortion and support traditional marriage are important for Catholics.

“Were we to abandon them, we would be like physicians who didn’t tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest,” said Vigneron, who oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan. [If a doctor must tell a patient that certain things are detrimental, how much more ought a priest or bishop give warnings are spiritual harm? The former cares for the body, which inevitably passes.  The later cares for the soul, which is eternal.]

On Sunday, Vigneron said about supporting gay marriage and receiving Communion: “For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: ‘I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.’ In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one’s integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.

Vigneron said the church wants to help Catholics “avoid this personal disaster.”

Fr Z kudos to Archbishop Vigneron.

Hopefully other bishops will take heart at his example and make strong public statements such as this one.

Now we need some action as well.  Speaking up is an action, but there are other actions as well.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Priam1184 says:

    Fine and good, but will anyone say no to these recalcitrant Catholics in the communion line? That just by itself would do more good for souls in this country and in this failing society than anything else I can possibly imagine.

  2. mamajen says:

    That physician analogy is a really good one. Enabling people to destroy their souls is NOT love.

  3. Ioannes Andreades says:

    If Professor Peters is so traditional, why does he advocate getting rid of ipso facto excommunications? Hasn’t he also mentioned that the Church should at least reconsider the law that says that only men may have their feet washed during the mandatum rite? This guy is most definitely a throw-back! ;^)

  4. Magash says:

    Of course so many (NOT YOU Fr. Z) seem to forget and downplay one of the most important and vital aspects of this lack of leadership by bishops and priests. That is to receive Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin is to compound the sin with another mortal sin. Yes the effect to the whole Church of public scandal important. But also important to the individual involved is the personal damnation that they court by receiving Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin.
    Perhaps if more priests and bishops were more upfront about sin, Hell and the relationship between the two we could spend less time worrying about public scandal.

  5. Lepidus says:

    I agree with Priam1184. Not presenting yourself for Holy Communion implies that you understand that continuing to push for this legislation is a mortal sin that you are engaged in. So if public figure happen to be fine with that state of affairs, it is doubtful that they won’t also be fine with adding another one to their list. Now, if they are denied, that is the Church exacting the remedy on them (and preventive medicine of the others who might be suseptible).

  6. teomatteo says:

    “Reese said that Peters’ views are “in a minority among American canon lawyers.” [gratis asseritur, gratis negatur]”
    I wonder what survey Fr. Reese is referencing for that bit of fact.

  7. JonPatrick says:

    I keep seeing this “Woodstock Theological Center” quoted in various articles by liberals. I wonder what Woodstock it was named after :)

  8. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Ioannes Andreades. Hi. My opposition to latae sententiae excommunication is only to the latae sententiae part, not to the excommunication part. I think l.s. penalties cause more legal problems than they solve. I am not alone in so thinking, but it’s a technical question. Cheers, edp.

  9. Magash says:

    “If Professor Peters is so traditional, why does he advocate getting rid of ipso facto excommunications? Hasn’t he also mentioned that the Church should at least reconsider the law that says that only men may have their feet washed during the mandatum rite? This guy is most definitely a throw-back! ;^)” — Ioannes Andreades

    Dr. Peters can certainly defend himself, however I believe that accuracy in criticism is important so would point out that Dr. Peters has expressed doubt in the usefulness of latae sententiae excommunications, that is automatically occurring communications, not ferendae sententiae excommunications, excommunications imposed by a legitimate superior or declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court. If what you mean by ipso facto excommunications is latae sententiae then I guess you would be correct.
    Of course the problem with latae sententiae excommunications is that since they are not imposed by formal legal authority how does the world at lodge know someone has been excommunicated? That fact is important because part of the medicinal effect of excommunication is the result of the public shaming that should result when one is excommunicated. The question then becomes a pastoral decision left to each individual bishop on whether or not a person under latae sententiae should be prohibited from receiving Communion, when they refuse to not present themselves for reception. No such problem occurres with ferendae sententiae excommunication since it is quite clear they should not present themselves for reception.
    So if latae sententiae did not exist, as it did not under previous versions of Canon Law, would bishops be more incline to exercise their duty to impose ferendae sententiae excommunication? Dr. Peters seems to think so, and I agree with him.
    As for the whole foot washing thing, we go through this every year. Rome has refused to clarify the theological underpinnings of the law (which does indeed limit the activity to men.) I also agree with Dr. Peters on this point. If the purpose of the mandatum rite is to directed to the priest/bishop as an illustration of their pastoral duties then limiting it to men makes a lot of sense, because it touches upon the priestly ministry. However if it is primarily an illustration of Christian servitude, then it is applicable to all Christians and it does not make sense to exclude women.
    Father Z., and I aspire to the first interpretation. Others to the second. Dr. Peters, who is a canonist, not a theologian, merely points out the two possibilities, without trying to cite theological supports for either. As he’s said he is a canonist, not a theologian.

  10. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    LOL Father Z – you broke the Freep website. It’s had a “server busy” signal ever since you linked to the article. Even the homepage is not accessible. Way to go, Father!

  11. Pingback: What Troubled the Virgin at the Annunciation - Big Pulpit

  12. A few months ago, a lady who sits near us in our N.O. parish came to Mass wearing a “Catholics for Marriage Equality” pin. I was devastated to see her public promotion of such anti-Catholic teaching and prayed fervently for God’s mercy as she went forward to Holy Communion wearing the visual sign of not being in communion.

    By God’s grace, I found the courage and the opportunity to speak with her privately outside before she entered the Church for the next Sunday’s Mass. She scoffed at the idea that her “Marriage Equality” pin was scandalous (I assured her that my own children were scandalized). I briefly explained {with all humility and in light of the truth that so many of us were not properly catechized in our youth} that to present oneself for Holy Communion means we are fully IN Communion with our Holy Catholic Church and all she teaches and holds true. I reminded her of the words of the Creed we pray together to confirm and profess our unity.

    “So you mean to tell me that all those people (as she points toward the Church) who are using contraception should not be receiving Holy Communion?”
    “Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you. But so many of them simply don’t know… we are not to judge them, only God can judge them.”

    Our short, passionate conversation ended amicably, and the next person I spoke to was our (2-years ordained; 3 mos. as our Father) priest, who knew of my concern for her from the previous week’s scandal. After I briefly related the conversation to him, he asked, “Did she turn around and head back to her car?” “No, Father, she went in to Mass.”

    She kept her pin on and went to Holy Communion as always. I prayed for our Lord to touch her heart and help her to see the truth…and for mercy on all of us who receive Holy Communion when we should abstain.

    {On both occasions, it happened to be a lay Ex.Min. of Holy Communion distributing to this person.}

    Lately I’ve noticed that she hasn’t been to Church very often. I am grieved to see her husband coming alone, still faithfully transporting his aged, handicapped mother to Mass. I continue to pray for this person, and ask all of you to do the same~ pray fervently for her and for all the catholics who are struggling/resisting to be(come) authentically Catholic.

  13. The bishop is just informing people of something that is obvious. If you work against the Church, don’t go to communion. I think it’s a better pastoral approach – at least in most cases – to naming names and explicitly denying communion to X or Y.

    As priests our main role is moral – forming consciences and granting God’s mercy – not political.

  14. Mary Pat says:

    While I am grateful to hear a bishop acting like a Bishop, I am more awed by you, @BridgetTheresa. I will pray for the woman you mentioned and I will pray that I can emulate you in my interactions with similar people that I come in contact with. God bless you!

  15. APX says:

    “Woodstock Theological Center”

    I bet most of the people working there attended the original Woodstock ’69. Grooving with the rest of the pot-smoking hippies for peace and music. I remember watching Woodstock ’99 on MuchMusic and seeing the original Woodstock poster. Interestingly enough, it strongly resembles many of the felt banners that have been adorning sanctuaries now for decades.

  16. Traductora says:

    Bridget Theresa, that’s pretty impressive! You certainly gave her something to think about, and it looks like the clergy weren’t willing to do that (if she went up to Communion with her “marriage equality” button).

    I don’t see how anyone can defend giving Communion to someone who is publicly aligned with the enemies of Church teachings. But these people are very bold because they have gotten away with it for so long.

  17. lucindatcm says:

    I have a question about this. I know somebody, a colleague in nursing school, who posted to his facebook page, his support of homosexual legalized unions (I refuse to call it marriage. I am married, have been for almost 13 years, and what they are proposing is NOT marriage- the divinely sanctioned perpetual misunderstanding between men and women they know not of). I have reason to believe that this person calls himself Catholic. If I call him on this, my reputation in school will suffer, and very likely he will never come back to the Faith. If I don’t, I feel like I’m betraying my faith. I do not fear the loss of my reputation, but if I must suffer its loss, I want it to be fruitful.

    Any ideas?

  18. KingofCharity says:

    Good! We need to pray that our bishops receive the cardinal virtue of Fortitude.
    If we had lenses that could see Ultimate Reality beyond the sacramental veil of the Church Militant, we would see reality and Truth as it is. We would see priests and bishops allowing these grave sinners, perpetual advocators and public proponents of mortal sin, to snuggle up and cozy up with the diabolical legions. The priests and bishops are allowing their sheep to burrow into Satan’s bosom while Satan Himself embraces them in His arms. These bishops and priests are handing over their sheep to be slaughtered. If we could see the ultimate, spiritual reality, we would all collapse in anguish and tears at this sight. That is not the work of a loving Shepherd.
    Bishops are supposed to be co-redeemers and help save souls, not send them to Hell.

  19. Cantor says:

    I think that we should apply the Latae Sententiae process to local traffic law enforcement. You notice you’re doing 51mph in a 35mph zone? Just go home, write out a check for $205 and send it in.

    Yeah. That’ll work.

  20. wolfeken says:

    JonPatrick and APX — like the 1969 Woodstock, the Jesuit one has also burned out, man:

  21. pmullane says:

    The issue of not admitting to Holy Communion politicians and agitators who act against the church (disordered marriage simulation, killing of the vulnerable, genocide, destruction of the family etc) is of course an act of love. Love of the sinner, that they may not bring condemnation on themselves by eating and drinking the body and blood of their lord when they should not, and love for The Lord whom they are receiving, that he would not be profaned. Even the medicinal value of withholding the Eucharist is primarily an act of love, the purpose of which is to bring the sinner to his senses, and avoid further scandal, sin, and Hell. Withholding communion is not about stopping someone having something ‘good’, and certainly not about throwing people out of our club because we don’t like them or what they say. God Bless any priest or bishop who tries to save a sinner in this way.

    Compare and contrast this attitude of love with those spewing bile and hatred toward Lady Thatcher, who died today. Theirs is not an act of live but of the devil, wishing hell upon someone with whom they disagreed in piddling earthly politics. A good example of how we are not to behave as children of the world.

  22. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I think I will have a button printed up which contains the following inscription:

    “?+?; ?+? ? ???”

    and will wear it to Mass, and everywhere.

  23. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Oh, dear, the system couldn’t translate the symbols.

    The inscription would be (Male symbol) + (Male symbol) ; (Female symbol) + (Female symbol)
    (does not equal symbol) (Male symbole) (marriage symbol – two linked rings, like a venn diagram) (Female symbol)

    It was much . . . snappier, the way it appeared in the original. Oh, well.

  24. Cantor says:

    lucindatcm – The simplest method, and biblically inspired, might be the best. Talk to him privately. You say that you don’t *know* if he’s Catholic, so ask him. If so, ask how he justifies his position in light of Church teachings. Remember that this is still an issue causing great stress within the Church, and he may well have heard different sides even from among the priesthood. We can never know how a person’s conscience is formed. Your conversation might lead him to further reconsider his stance.

    Note that this avoids the type of public situation you endeavor to avoid, unless he takes it into that arena. But that’s the risk one takes when one stops ‘being’ and starts ‘doing’ Catholic! Prayers to you both.

  25. Andkaras says:

    One must have an astounding lack of personal integrity , or be invincibly ignorant , or lack culpability ,to force oneself upon an entire community with which it does not share values or beliefs. It seems almost like a kind of spiritual rape. It makes the offender the aggressor and the community the unwilling victim. We must all become fluent in the language of the church ,yes word for word if possible, to dispel all of the errors we face today . Maybe even to carry our catechisms and certain encyclicals with us and read from them to make sure we can’t be misquoted. I am from the Detroit archdiocese and I don’t mind saying that it is one of the most troubled in terms of conforming to the sexual morals of the church Remember ,this was the epicenter of” Call to Action.” And many are still suffering the ill effects.

  26. one word:excommunication

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Invincible ignorance cannot apply to anyone who has access to the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. Only infants and those in geographical areas where the Gospel has not been preached can be called invincibly ignorant. To use this phrase with regards to a modern woman from California, who not only is wealthy and has all the access to knowledge money could buy, but clergy who have spoken specifically to her problem of ignoring Church teaching is a travesty of definition.

    Pope Pius IX in Singulari Quadam (9 December 1854) and the encyclicals Singulari Quidem (17 March 1856) as well as Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (10 August 1863) noted this state. Aquinas discusses this in the Summa and in the Third Century, Origen used this concept to describe what I have.

    No one in the modern world who is a capable adult is invincibly ignorant. Why do we make excuses?

    Vincible ignorance, on the other hand, a state of being able to know the truth but not doing so, creates a state of guilt. We use the term “crass ignorance” to mean those who can know the truth and refuse to learn it.

    In civil law, vincible ignorance is called wilful blindness and it punishable in court.

    Also, remember that in Canon Law, one does not have to be excommunicated by a bishop in some cases. There are cases of latae sententiae, which means the excommunication has already been passed, as in the cases of aiding, abetting and having an abortion. Here is a list of the automatic excommunications in the Church.

    an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic;
    a person who throws away the consecrated Eucharistic species or takes and retains them for a sacrilegious purpose;
    a person who uses physical force against the Pope;
    a priest who uses confession as a pretext to solicit the penitent to break the commandment against adultery;
    a bishop who ordains someone a bishop without a papal mandate, and the person who receives the ordination from him;
    a confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal of confession;
    accomplices without whose assistance a violation of a law prescribing latae sententiae excommunication would not have been committed. (such as helping an abortion)
    completing an abortion.

    Although taking Communion when engaged in homosexual acts, just like fornication between opposite sexes is a sacrilege, that is a serious sin of disrespecting the Eucharist, God Himself, it is not listed in the excommunication list. The same would most likely apply to those who support SSM avidly, as they are in effect leaving Church teaching yet receiving Communion, which is a lie.

    Priests are under more restrictions than we are as laity.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    oops, I should have noted that in the first paragraph I am referring the Pelosi, the great supporter of SSM

  29. Seamus says:

    Does this also apply to politicians who support the legalization of no-fault divorce? Or divorce at all?

  30. OrthodoxChick says:

    I don’t think I’m advanced enough in spiritual matters to give advice, but I can tell you that I just went through a similar situation over the past weekend. I was with a dear friend. I’ve always known that she is Catholic but we’ve never talked doctrine and Church teaching before. I assumed her to be fairly conservative because she had shared with me that she was a Dominica nun but she left the order when the order’s prayer life in community fell apart after VII. The habits were done away with, the nuns took on more time at their secular professions (nursing, education) and less time in community, etc. Hearing that, I just always assumed that she was conservative even though she is of a “certain” age along the lines of the usual hippie liberal reactionaries of the 1960’s.

    Well the other night, the topic of Church teaching on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage came up for the first time. And our conversation blew up over the issue of gay marriage (although she is pro-life – thank God). Standing up for the teachings of Holy Mother Church about gay marriage, sin, and the necessity of the Sacraments, especially Confession, may have either radically changed her opinion of me, or it has possibly cost me a friendship. I’m not sure which yet because I haven’t heard from her since it happened. I’m working up the courage to take this on with extended family next.

    In your case though, since you are a student and we need pro-life Catholics desperately in the medical field, my guess would be that it is not a sin if you temporararily delay your evangelization just until you finish your course work and pass your licensing exams. You will bear much more fruit in the field, advocating for patients who do not want to give in to the bias and pressures of other medical professionals on abortion, euthanasia, and the like. That will also be a strong means of evangelizing the faith.

    I’m not qualified to give advice, but I wound up doing it anyway. Sorry. It’s an Italian thing. We lack the “hold-your-tongue” gene in our DNA.

  31. how does same sex produce life? Abortion,artificial contraception, same sex-> anti life. Have my doubts barring Catholic politicians from communion is going to amount to anything. They don’t care for one. It hasn’t deterred them so far and in some instances they are still being permitted. The only way to make a dent in any of this mess is to excommunicate publicly because they hold PUBLIC office. They support Obama(he’s diabolical)100%. He and their office means more to them than anything. i swear that makes them a part of his diabolical plan. i wonder how many Catholics actually think it’s ok to vote for these ppl because they are Catholic? It definitely says something to evangelicals who must look at the Church and wonder how we can be so pro life and anti same sex ‘marriage’ YET have these politicians who look like they represent the Catholic Church. I’ve been questioned. How many of us have been questioned? The harm they cause warrants excommunication on so many levels. IMHO nothing less will correct the situation.

  32. Lepidus says:

    Seamus – No, the Church does not necessarily have a problem with the equitable distribution of property. Nor does the Church expect someone to stay in a situation where there is a danger to themselves or their children. Remarriage is a separate issue. In fact, I know of someone who was (correctly, I believe) conselled by a priest to get out of a dangerous situation. She got the property that was legally due her, did not remarry and remained in good standing.

  33. yes i said it. Obama IS diabolical. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which side he’s on.

  34. acardnal says:

    IMHO, when a priest/bishop gives holy communion in public to a notorious pro-abort politician, it causes scandal to the faith and confusion in the minds of the faithful. Simple as that.

  35. Johnno says:


    – This can go a number of ways depending on the person and on you. It’s best to discuss it with him face to face when alone, just casually bring up the topic by saying,”I saw on your Facebook page that you support homosexuality, but also claim you are a Catholic. But isn’t that contradictory?”

    The topic will then like go into other areas when he tries to explain away why it isn’t. Eventually you’re going to discover that he will disagree on basic things such as Biblical inerrency, believes in Evolution instead of Creation, and doesn’t belive in the infalliability of the Church and Pope, and also disbelief in Hell. These are the key things you will have to address which are really the root of the problem before you even enter the topic of morality.

    Instead of discussing homosexuality, get down to the root – Disbelief in God, Rejection of God as Creator, Rejection of Biblical Revelation, Rejection of the Church’s inerrency on its teachings. It is pointless arguing with someone over sexual morality if they don’t believe in God, Biblical revelation or the Church as the proper authority of the Bible and revelation of God. Or you can indeed argue both simultaneously, but you will have a stronger case if you can lay a proper foundation for it. After all Marriage and the nature of men and women are themselves rooted in Genesis, and the Triune personalities of God.

    I encourage anyone trying to evangelize to put the moral questions to the side, and rather to get down to the very problem that causes rejection of morality – disbelief in God, subjecting God to the scrutiny of heretical naturalist science, and that God established no visible religion or authority.

    Before attempting this I recommend spending time knowing how to answer such topics and listening to lectures on Biblical Creationism, The Holy Trinity, The existence of Logic and the God who is the Logos, the nature of angels and miracles, the 4 last things – Death, Judgment, Heaven & Hell. In a roundabout way you will eventually come back to defending Marriage.

    Yes this ius harder to do and takes awhile, but these are exactly the sort of questions you’re going to have thrown at you when you delve deeper into these discussions, all these are excuses people sue to hide behind when they claim it’s okay to be sexually immoral. Because even if you manage to confound them with facts and statistics about homosexuality and why it’s bad in the cointext of practical society, they will never be convinced nor converted because they will simply fall back into the mode that each individual is free to do as he pleases and that somehow society can adjust to accomodate them and also that the deity known as science will be our saviour and cure us of aids and other diseases thus making everything better so we should give the government more money.

    Anyone who wants to successfully evangelize people need to attack their undergirded beliefs. In other words, you are basically trying to get someone not to agree on a moral topic, but to change their religion completely. Catholics must in these times become more educated and scientifically literate in order to destroy all the false philosophies masquerading as factual modern myths.

  36. Johnno says:

    Also of note, learn about Divine Cosmic Principles – of the nature of Masculinty & feminity in the universe, of the Yin/Yang. It’s completely in keeping with Catholicism. Peter Kreeft has some good lectures on it and how it relates to thigns like sexuality and the male priesthood.

    Basically, the belief in homosexuality is a distortion of our sex and its purpose. Distort that and you get a distorted understanding of the Universe and Creation. Distort the Creation, and you distort the Creator. Distort the Creator and you eithe end up denying the Creator or chasing after a false one of your own image. Thus when you die, you are at risk of choosing Hell believing it to be Heaven, and the Creator judges you by merely saying, “Thy will be done.” And you thus end up in a place you think you wanted, or that you stubbornly go to because you denied reality when it didnt conform to your desire.

  37. Cantor says:

    acardnal – Perhaps it *should* be as simple as that, but it’s not. Every day that the bishops do not act is another day that the so-called “magisterium” speaks quite loudly. Their people have been listening and following their lack of leadership for many years.

  38. Magash says:

    While you make a very good case for vincible ignorance I believe that failure of episcopal leadership has confused the issue. For example, as a well educated Catholic with what I hope is properly formed conscience, I know that pronouncements from the likes of Rembert George Weakland should not be taken with the same gravitas as statements from, say Raymond Leo Burke. However if I’m Joe Catholic, who gets the balance of my Catholic news either through the mainstream media or from my pastor’s homilies how would I know?
    Perhaps a bad example.
    Let’s go a little farther down the chain. How do I as a poorly catechized Catholic know that some heretical nun is pushing some teaching totally against Catholic thought? I mean I see in the National Catholic Reporter that sister is lavishly supported. I mean my pastor wouldn’t stack the NCR in the book rack if they were heretical would he? Certainly the bishop wouldn’t let him do that? Nor would she be allowed to speak at Catholic universities across the nation if there was something wrong with her theology, would she?
    What about Father in his homilies telling us that the virgin birth never happened or that the feeding of the 5000 was about sharing? I personally know of a priest in my diocese who taught this crap for years, and was not removed, even by our relatively good bishop, until a visiting parishioner, from a neighboring diocese made an issue of it with his bishop.
    The reason all this has happen is that, when it could have made a difference, in the 1960s & 1970s bishops did not speak out. Did not excommunicate. Did not make a noise in the mainstream media when there were still people there who would have given them a neutral or even supportive platform.
    So now we have the situation where too many people actually believe that they can pick and choose what to believe and still be Catholic. More importantly, they believe they can pick and choose what to believe and still escape damnation.
    They may very well be wrong. Its not for me to judge the state of their souls. But if their pastor doesn’t proclaim it from the pulpit, if their bishop doesn’t take action against “Catholic” organizations and heretical priest in his diocese, then I can see how during the Final, if not the Particular Judgment the individual might not be held to as high a standard as the priests and bishops who enabled them the to state in vincible ignorance “I thought that was part of the prudential beliefs that Catholics were allowed to disagree on.”

  39. Supertradmum says:

    Magash, as a teacher of Classical Education, one of the first things one teaches is how to go to the correct source.

    The Vatican has had a website for years. I am sorry, but I disagree with you. An adult comes to the point where he or she takes charge of their own research and study.

    The CCC has been out for a long time and before that, we had lots of good teaching. If I can find things out from the source, so can Ms. Pelosi.

    The problem is not ignorance but sin, choosing to go one’s own way for whatever reasons.

  40. Elodie says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae: clever symbols. I always thought of getting involved in the fish symbol vs Darwin symbol things on cars, with a WWJD nod thrown in. Imagine a bumper sticker with two male symbols linked and two female symbols linked with a “What Would Darwin Say” underneath. All to point out that same sex unions are NOT scientific and even if I were an (honest) atheist, I’d have to say that nothing can be natural, normal, or ‘born that way’ which does not contribute to the propagation of the species.

  41. APX says:

    “JonPatrick and APX — like the 1969 Woodstock, the Jesuit one has also burned out, man”

    Better to burn out than to fade away.

  42. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Supertradmum,

    why are we making excuses?

    Because we do not want to bear to treat it as possible that the masses of mankind are destined for certain damnation for little or no active guilt of theirs.

    Nor is that wrong of us to do. Frankly, not everything hard must be the truth. On the contrary, we know that the Truth is also the Beauty.

    Second, because otherwise the missionary, instead of bringing his objects of mission the salvation, would to the contrary expose them to the threat of damnation (which is giving them harm).

    And while you have a point that people can research what Catholic doctrine is (I won’t go into details on that), this is only about what Catholic doctrine is. But the question whether this doctrine is the true doctrine is a totally different one; the unbeliever might say “of course the Vatican would say the Pope is authoritative”, and still be ignorant notwithstanding knowing some Catholic teachings.

    “Who does know that the Church is” (not: claims to be) “the institution set up by Christ for the salvation of mankind and does not enter her or remain within her, cannot be saved.” That is the Catholic teaching on the matter (or my memory of it; cf. I think it was Lumen gentium). It does not get “easier” (viz. scarier) than that; and that’s a good thing.

    (If, as we seemingly naturally assume, such a man seems a rare bird, that would make it seem the real practical problem for the unbeliever is not getting his sins, the real ones, the one he knows to be ones, safely forgiven. And then perhaps fall into the despair/presumption traps.)

  43. av8er says:

    @acardinal. I agree.

    Shouldn’t this type of strength from Archbp Vigneron and others have come from the president of the USCCB?

    May the Holy Spirit give strength to all the bishops to boldly stand up for Truth.

  44. Imrahil says:

    My last “not” in my comment above should, er well, not have been written there.

  45. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Sorry if I was unclear. By ipso facto excommunications, I did indeed mean latae sententiae excommunicaions. My point, though apparently ill expressed, was that Dr. Peters is willing to entertain and even espouse non-traditional ideas re: canon law.

  46. Suburbanbanshee says:

    One can make non-traditional suggestions from inside the tradition. How else do new traditions develop within the old?

  47. Lin says:

    “Were we to abandon them, we would be like physicians who didn’t tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest,” said Vigneron, who oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan. [If a doctor must tell a patient that certain things are detrimental, how much more ought a priest or bishop give warnings are spiritual harm? The former cares for the body, which inevitably passes.  The later cares for the soul, which is eternal.]

    WHY do so few priests fail to warn us of spiritual harm? Do they not bring harm to their own souls for their timidity? We all need the warning! And it is very difficult for us when, for example, a Catholic politician acts in ways that oppose Church teaching and seemingly “get away with it”. Or worse yet, many Protestants and Catholics don’t even know that the so-called politicians are acting in opposition to Church teaching! Thank you for your very Catholic blog!

  48. Magash wrote “So now we have the situation where too many people actually believe that they can pick and choose what to believe and still be Catholic. More importantly, they believe they can pick and choose what to believe and still escape damnation.”exactly. all the more reason to excommunicate the PUBLIC OFFICIALS(Pelosi,Obama etc)who help lead these ppl astray. For one,it’s not a punishment-it’s an act of charity. The ultimate goal is to save souls and get the person to reconcile. At the least,if they don’t ,they’re not dragging other ppl down with them.

  49. ->Error. Pelosi,Biden.

  50. streamer85 says:

    Does the “should not receive” echo true for the multitude of Catholics whose votes enable the State of Washington to enact same sex “marriage?”

  51. Just for clarification: the present body passes, but both body and soul will be eternally joined in resurrection :) As St. Augustine says, “As the Head is now, so will the Body be.” I know Father Z meant that, though.

  52. Mr. P. says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Vigneron!

    The bishops of the U.S. need a strategically united front prohibiting Holy Communion from public officials who claim to be Catholic and yet publicly contradict the Church’s moral teaching.

    A bishop speaking out here and there is like putting out one fire while another fire sets elsewhere. We need a flood of water — a deluge — to put out all the fires at one time.

  53. Supertradmum says:

    Imrahil, one of the reasons Ireland is in a state of post-Christianity is exactly my point, which was told to me by an old, saintly Irish priest last year. He said the people never grew up in their faith, but only relied on the priests instead of taking hold of their adult faith commitment-which we all must do. As a result, they fall into error, as they cannot face evil or exhibit the virtues, such as prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, which are grown-up virtues.

    I have written recently on my blog, quoting the great Bernard of Clairvaux, that we move from a child relationship with regard to God, seeing Him as Father and being obedient and open to discipline, to the Master and Lord stage, that of the Apostles, at the time of the writing of the Gospels, except for John, to the understanding of Christ as the Bridegroom. and following two….

    If we do not pursue this path, to which all Catholics are called, not only do we remain immature, as St. Paul states, drinking milk instead of eating meat, but we weaken the universal Church.

    The day the laity stops blaming priests, bishops and nuns for their bad faith will be the day we see real power in the Kingdom of God.

    Archbishop Vigneron understands this and is calling people forward into their adult faith.

    I find these topics must be discussed by Catholics, who are losing the missionary zeal we should have from baptism. Just a few weeks ago, a person here told me that if one points out sin, one is not nice and the problems of communication get worse. I disagree. There are always some, with God’s grace, who may react negatively at first but come back and say, “Yes, I was wrong.”

    God help us if we do not speak the truth.

  54. Imrahil says:

    Well, I agree on that in one sense.

    Still… nothing is wrong in calling scandal what it is, and in pointing to the state of organized religious education (which is, in Germany, very bad). If students go out from 12 years school 2 lessons a week of religious education, know the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Creed, something substantial of the bible, the most important and all controversial Catholic dogmas and the reasons they were deduced with at the time of their definition, and so on along that path, and reject Catholicism, then it is perhaps the fault of sin. If they enter into Confirmation preparation after half of school-time and do not even know the Apostle’s Creed by heart, then it is the fault of bad education.

    After all, Our Lord himself excused the soldiers. (And that is not only from deicide; as their behavior, especially during the flagellation, was sinful enough even apart from Our Lord’s Deity.)

  55. Magash says:

    Supertradmum I do not, on principle, disagree with your stand. Individually we are required by our acceptance of the gift of Confirmation to be adult Catholics, and in some way take on our own responsibility cooperation with Christ to effect our salvation. This is the yes exhibited by Our Blessed Mother and the Saints to God.
    However in a community sense priests and bishops as our pastors are responsible to God for more than to cooperate for their own salvation. They are responsible for the sheep in their care. Sheep are not just likely to get lost. They also tend to follow other sheep, who are lost. Hence the need for the shepherd.
    In a perfect world all Catholics would at least be adults. More, they would realize that they need to be adults. This is not a perfect world. Too many Catholics still operate on a adolescent level in their faith. This is often because they were never exposed to the Classics. They in a very real sense do not have a classical education. Indeed in most of the West, for the last fifty years everything possible has been done by the mainstream society to ensure that they do not have a classical education.
    Yes we must all speak out for the truth. But one of the other aspects of the not perfect world is that not all voices are equal. Bishops and priest, by the nature of their positions are in a much better place and a much worse one to either lead a vastly greater number of people either to Christ or astray than I or most other lay Catholics are.
    You are right that we must not point at the clergy and use them as an excuse for our own failings. But likewise we should not disregard the negative impact they have when they fail to teach with the mind of the Church.

  56. Supertradmum says:

    Magash, when you and I die and we stand before perfect Justice, Love, Mercy, and Innocence in our particular judgement, God is not going to ask us whether we followed our priests or bishops, but whether we followed Him.

    It is that simple. One has to make choices and gr0w-up.
    I shall tell you a little story. My son had a hard birth and almost died. However, he survived and the next morning, April 27th, 1988, I was sitting holding this tiny baby in my arms. Birds were tweeting, and people in the ward were talking and being busy. In those days, we did not have single rooms in England in the health system, but wards.

    Suddenly, the room was enveloped in silence and I recognized a “God moment”. I distinctly heard God the Father say to me, “When you die, I shall ask you one question. Did you pass your faith on to your son?”

    I said a mental “OK, I get it.” And, suddenly the ward was noisy again. I knew it was my parental responsibility to share the faith with my son, not a priest or bishops, or anyone elses. My adult choice.

    I had to know my faith to do this. Thankfully, I was already on the way, as it were.

    No excuses.

  57. TexasAggie says:

    I do not understand. [I can help. In the case of PUBLIC figures who take a public stand, the reception of Communion is a public scandal. In the case of private people whose views or actions are not known to the public, they are obliged by in conscience not to receive improperly.]
    First, I do not believe that anyone with mortal sin should receive communion. When they do, they are compounding their sin.
    I also understand the argument that advocating for same sex marriage is against the church’s teachings.
    What I do not understand, and I would love for someone to explain to me, is how does a person, (priest, bishop, cardinal, EMHC) know what another person has done, or is going to do?
    Do we not believe in transformation? [They don’t. See above.]Reconciliation? Conversion? Look at Saul in Acts 9
    In my years of Catholic education, I was taught that when you went to confession, if you confessed your sins, were truly sorry, and tried not to repeat those sins, you were forgiven and freely able to receive Holy Communion, as long as you were in line with the church. Is it not possible that these leaders have done that before they receive Holy Communion? Can anyone besides the Lord Himself know what this person is doing? [That is where you go wrong. Their actions were PUBLIC and known. They must publicly attempt to correct the scandal they have caused.]
    Are we asking people to judge who is worthy of receiving Jesus’s body? This is a very slippery slope, and one that I do not see as able to be justified.
    What did Jesus do at the last supper, the first celebration of the Eucharist? He knowingly gave his own body to Judas whom Jesus KNEW was going to betray him. He gave His own body, the Eucharist we receive every time we go to mass to Peter, whom He also KNEW would deny him.
    What human should judge someone else more harshly than Jesus Himself?
    Again, I want to make it clear that I agree that no one with a mortal sin should receive Holy Communion, but I also do not believe anyone on earth is worthy to judge whether or not someone else should receive communion in the communion line.
    As always, I pray that we as a universal church become more Christ-like. Do not ask, “What would Jesus do?” Look to His example and know what Jesus did!

    [Think it through again.

  58. Nun2OCDS says:

    All you readers from the Archdiocese of Detroit go write your Ordinary. Thank him and assure him of your prayerful support. You might even sign up at and regulary pray a rosary for him. They will send you a reminder.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  59. Springkeeper says:

    I don’t suppose then that that includes the Catholics who use that silly little equal sign as their identifier on Facebook.

  60. Pingback: Roundup: Archbishop Vigneron & Communion | Defend Us In Battle

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