CNN insinuates that Archbp. Vigneron “dialed back” his words about promoters of same-sex marriage and Holy Communion

There is a deeply flawed, perhaps even mendacious, piece on CNN about Archbishop Vigneron’s comments about Catholics who promote same-sex marriage and reception of Holy Communion.  I posted about that HERE.

The CNN article suggests, implies, hints, that the Archdiocese of Detroit is now trying to “step back” from or “dial back” what Vigneron said, by “adding content”.

The problem with CNN’s claim is that, well, it’s wrong.  The Archdiocese, by adding content, didn’t “step back” at all.

Here is the little of the CNN piece with my emphases and comments.

Detroit archdiocese dials back no Communion for same-sex marriage supporters  [There’s the “dial back”.]

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The Archdiocese of Detroit tried to reframe a day-old statement by Archbishop Allen Vigneron that compared Catholics who advocate for same-sex marriage and receive Communion to people committing perjury.

After an academic with ties to the church [Pretty dismissive, no?  The “academis” is Ed Peters.] wrote in a blog post that Catholics who advocate same-sex marriage should not receive Communion, Vigneron told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday that Catholics who support same-sex marriage and receive Communion would “logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.”

“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,’ ” Vigneron told the paper. “In effect, they would contradict themselves.”

On Monday, the archdiocese looked to step back and add context to the statement.  [The implication, together with that “reframe” and “dial back” is that Archbp. Vigneron is changing his mind, saying something different. That’s not true.]

The archbishop’s focal point here is not ‘gay marriage’; it is a Catholic’s reception of Holy Communion,” Joe Kohn, the archdiocese spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. [Uh huh.  Fine.  The issue of legalization of same-sex marriage isn’t the Archbishop’s focus in his statement.  His focus is the state of the soul of the people who push for it.  Going on…] “If a Catholic publicly opposes the church on a serious matter of the church’s teaching, any serious matter – for example, whether it be a rejection of the divinity of Christ, racist beliefs, support for abortion or support for redefining marriage – that would contradict the public affirmation they would make of the church’s beliefs by receiving Communion.”  [I don’t see a “dialing back” there, do you?]

Kohn continued: “As the archbishop states, the pastors of the church are ready to assist Catholics to help them understand and avoid this conflict.” [Was the “dialing back” in part of the email that the writer chose not to share?]

[… some of the back story, which I will cut out…]

A majority of Catholics, according to polling, disagree with this view of Communion. [And now CNN tries to show how backward and out of step Vigneron is with the “majority”.  Hopefully he’ll start listening to the Voz del Pueblo pretty soon and really “dial back” his medieval views.]

A 2011 survey by the National Catholic Reporter [ROFL!] found that 86% of Catholics said they believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.” [I love this… CNN is pitting Archbp. Vigneron against the Fishwrap.]

The same survey found that 35% of Catholics said the church’s opinion on same-sex marriage was very important, a number that reporter William D’Antonio says is lower in previous years.

“What more and more Catholics are saying,” D’Antonio wrote in 2011, “is that my lived experiences are different than what the church is saying.”

[And that is where the article ends.]

This is biased reporting, if it is reporting at all.

Furthermore, here is the image that accompanied the piece, together with the caption CNN posted with it.

Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron gives communion to a parishioner.

Ummmm…. no.  That is not what is happening in that picture.

The CNN writer or the editor can’t get that right.  They didn’t get anything else right either.


CNN has changed the title of their entry!

Ed Peters, the “academic” responded as well.  HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Based on the fact that someone is standing to the left side holding the wine/water decanter, my supposition is that H.E. is receiving the Offertory gifts of bread and wine. In this case, the bread is being presented by this lady to His Excellency during Mass.

  2. Athelstan says:

    “What more and more Catholics are saying,” D’Antonio wrote in 2011, “is that my lived experiences are different than what the church is saying.”

    In that case, your “lived experience” is wrong – not the Church.

    Of course, “lived experience” is really a euphemism for “disordered will.”

  3. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    There is nothing as intolerant as a tolerant liberal
    There is nobody more ignorant than “educated” liberal\progressive.

    The next time CNN gets something right about the Catholic Church, will be the first.

  4. mamajen says:

    The only reason they are seeing it as a dialing back is because they twisted the original statement into something it wasn’t. That caption is hilarious–yes, we Catholics always take communion by the bowlful.

  5. jasoncpetty says:

    LOL, the photo—“Here, lady, eat this huge piece of metal.”

  6. dominic1955 says:

    It must be a requirement in journalist school to be extraordinarily dense and/or willfully ignorant. It seems that as long as I can remember paying attention (maybe 20 years or so) this has been the case.

    Our “free press” has much more to answer for morally than the press of communist/totalitarian regimes because at least the journalists in those situations were forced to write lying garbage…

  7. Worse yet, in my opinion, Father Z, is that the MSM is now using Cardinal Dolan’s recent statements about the Church needing to provide more/better outreach to homosexuals, in particular, to promote its agenda citing the statistics you mention in your post. The latest example was demonstrated on last evening’s O’Reilly’s Factor. O’Reilly defended Cardinal Dolan but the guest completely twisted his words toward her ends.

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    “A 2011 survey by the National Catholic Reporter found that 86% of Catholics said they believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.”


    Matthew 12:30
    “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”

    What is so hard to understand about this?

  9. Lepidus says:

    I also wonder about the Fishwrap’s survey…86%? “some aspect of church teaching”? I wonder how that survey was originally written? With a number that high, I’m thinking there was confusion between actual faith / morals / doctrine versus some recommendations or ideas that you are free to agree or disagree with (such as certain economic pronouncements that some bishops have recently made).

  10. The Drifter says:

    How they got their 86%? I believe the following link may provide a few hints:

  11. Joboww says:

    Im remembering Ven Fulton Sheen trying to point out to his listeners the portrayal of the “theys”, “they say the church is out of step with the time”. He would then question “Who are they?”, the more things change the more they stay the same

  12. tealady24 says:

    CNN=Communist news network, anyway. That woman, along with whoever is standing next to her(you can make out another chin) are bringing up the offertory gifts. How clever does that creepy CNN person think he/she is? To most readers, they don’t know what they’re looking at and have no clue as to what Holy Communion (or should I say Eucharist) is.

    Most “catholics” voted that “president” back into office for another 4 yrs. Most of them don’t believe in the True Presence or in outlawing abortion or being against “gay” marriage. Ask them anything, promise them anything; you’ve got a friend of life!

  13. teomatteo says:

    “….any serious matter – for example, whether it be a rejection of the divinity of Christ, racist beliefs, support for abortion or support for redefining marriage – that would contradict the public affirmation they would make of the church’s beliefs by receiving Communion.”
    Seems to me that he didn’t dial back but he Doubled Down with the addition of abortion support.

  14. Basher says:

    Yes it is very bad and biased reporting. However, I think we’ve been dealing with this type of reporting long enough that all of our diocesan personnel should be able to anticipate it. Clear, direct statements are best. I think that saying:

    “The archbishop’s focal point here is not ‘gay marriage’”

    …gives the biased reporter an obvious opening and, technically, is not true. The Archbishop’s comment was provoked specifically by the gay marriage issue, which is why he mentioned it.

    As Fr. Z points out in the red text above, the reporter in this case is focusing only on the first sentence, not the rest of the statement…but haven’t we all figured out by now that this is what they do?

  15. JPMedico says:

    I think it must irritate the MSM and the homosexual lobby that we consider active homosexuals “merely” sinners (and who among us isn’t a sinner?), when they, instead, seem to have based their entire identity on this one aspect. The world has made homosexual “marriage” the litmus test of the current times (a few years ago it was abortion, and I assume contraception before that, and something different before that, etc… ad nauseum) but our position is multifaceted. We are probably hurting their pride by saying that our primary concern is the proper reception of the Eucharist and not their specific sin, of which they are so proud. (Obviously we are concerned about their sins and their souls in terms of their salvation, but not necessarily more than any other sins or souls).

  16. BLB Oregon says:

    A 2011 survey by the National Catholic Reporter found that 86% of Catholics said they believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.”

    Let us say that Michael Sean Winters answered at least “disagree” (if not “strongly disagree”) to this statement. If he is the only one at NCR that would not answer “agree” or “strongly agree”, and he represents 14% of the staff, that would imply a staff of about seven. Since the staff has more than seven writers and editors, it seems highly likely that those who choose the text for the NCR is are, as a group, less likely to put even a theoretical value on orthodoxy than the “average Catholic” willing to take a survey that they found was being conducted by the NCR.

    Well, at least it could be worse….

  17. BLB Oregon says:

    –“What more and more Catholics are saying,” D’Antonio wrote in 2011, “is that my lived experiences are different than what the church is saying.”–

    How few realize that this is like saying “my lived experience is that I’ve never needed a seatbelt in my life” or “I’ve smoked two packs a day for twenty years, sure, but lots of people have coughs…my lived experience is that I’m happier with the cigs than without!” We know what happens when we put more stock in our “lived experience” than in the people who’ve been to medical school or who analyze crash sites for a living. Why it doesn’t dawn on us that “lived experience” with regards to morality is HIGHLY over-rated in our times, why we can’t see how much awful behavior in others is blindly rationalized on those grounds and how much damage self-permissiveness does, I cannot imagine.

  18. Basher says:

    Very true, BLB. Also:

    To say that one’s “lived experience” in moral matters is different than what the Church teaches is to mistake the Church’s teaching to be completely and exclusively about the temporal wages of sin. This is practical atheism or practical universalism, and either way it indicates a deeper problem than just dissenting from Catholic moral teaching (as bad as that is already).

  19. Pingback: Why I am so proud of Archbishop Vigneron … | Defend Us In Battle

  20. Supertradmum says:

    And they call this journalism….

    As to polls, in all of my very long Catholic life, I have never been contacted for a poll on any moral or doctrinal issue.

    Consider the sources….

  21. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Supertradmum, I have never been contacted for a poll either, and further, I don’t know anyone who has.
    As for CNN, I consider them the Creative News Network. Anything they report on the Church is always full of errors.

  22. Gail F says:

    “A 2011 survey by the National Catholic Reporter [ROFL!] found that 86% of Catholics said they believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.””
    Did the survey say WHICH issues they said that about? If that’s all it said, it’s totally meaningless. It would be interesting to find out, say, that in a VALID poll a 86% of Catholics said that one could disagree with this or that church teaching and remain loyal. It would tell you something about how people think. But a poll in a newspaper or on a website is fun but has no statistical value, and with a question that vague says absolutely nothing, even for entertainment’s sake. I believe that one can disagree with his/her bishop about girl altar servers and still remain loyal to the Church. SO WHAT?

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    JasonCpetty. So silly I am still laughing.

    Sidebar: When did these four become comparatively equal on the sin scale?
    1. Rejecting the Divinity of Christ
    2. Support for racist beliefs
    3. Support for abortion
    4. Support for gay marriage
    One of these things is not like the others.

    I’m not championing racist beliefs, believe me, but, I would not put that on a scale with the other factors mentioned as basically making one wrong to approach the altar for Holy Communion.
    What an odd time we live in when we have a hard time agreeing with fellow Catholics about what constitutes a serious sin. We have trouble defining our terms!
    And no, Father Z., that would not constitute “dialing back” to me.
    Ugh, the media.

  24. Jean Marie says:

    Our state controlled media is truly in the service of the evil one. How much longer, Lord?

  25. dbwheeler says:

    Father Z, “There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about’ says Oscar Wilde…and I don’t know who said ‘Such is the price of fame’, but this is the price you pay for being in the public eye. There’s just no pleasing everyone. That you always seek to please God first, shows, and I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. ;o) Keep on doing what you’re doing and saying what you’re saying and it’ll all be forgotten in less than a week or less…much less. haha

  26. Margaret says:

    …Sigh. I’ve always felt we need to be out there, engaging the world, demanding more accurate coverage from the mainstream media, shaping pop culture to the extent we can, etc.

    But this willful, endless spinning on the MSM’s part since Benedict announced his resignation is driving me bonkers. I hate the idea of retreating to some sort of Catholic ghetto because it’s the only place we can find reliable information and analysis, but I also am seeing no place for our “voice” in larger society.

  27. Pingback: Marriage and Same-Sex Attraction - Big Pulpit

  28. robtbrown says:

    1. The MO of the media is to look for, then report conflicts. If none are found, exaggeration (or fabrication) suffices. It is no secret that most media personnel are progressives, which means they’ll want to portray any conflict as between progressives and musty, boring conservatives. This latest move to reduce any moral proscriptions against homosexuality to prejudice fits nicely into the matrix of progressive journalism.

    2. This is the kind of sloppy, ideological journalism that, once shown to be wrong, will often be followed by the simple “CNN stands by its story” reply.

    BTW, I am currently in Fatima, whose messages almost 100 years ago made reference to the decline of sexual morals. A new basilica was constructed here whose architect seems to have been inspired by the splendor of outdoor handball courts.

  29. NoraLee9 says:

    Do any of these catholics read the Bible anymore? The mandate against the sin of Sodom is written in more than one place. (I was laughing like a crazy person and throwing things at the tv again, while watching the Sodom & Gomorrah passage as depicted on the new tv Bible series). Even in 3 Kings the prophet tells us that certain Kings of Israel/Judah pleased G-d by casting out “the effeminate.” I’m not advocating casting anyone out, but unless the Roman Catholic Church decides to re-write scripture in much the same way as the J-hovah’s Witnesses did, there won’t be any changing church teaching, since what we believe comes from what is written in that Book!

  30. JonPatrick says:

    Noraleeg, strictly speaking, what we believe does not just come from the book, but from the “traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle”. The same Tradition handed down from Our Lord that predated the Book by a few hundred years.

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    ““A 2011 survey by the National Catholic Reporter found that 86% of Catholics said they believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.”

    A 2013 Masked Chicken poll found that 86% of Catholics could not spell, “contradiction.”

    The Chicken

  32. MattH says:

    The caption on the picture is amazing. I am not sure how anyone who is actually familiar with the Mass would think it is Holy Communion; is the individual is receiving Christ by being handed the ciborium and then taking the Host out themselves? Some Protestant groups distribute their Communion this way but does the author really believe Catholics do?
    And an observant person would notice this cannot be even the handing of the ciborium to an EMHC – the Archbishop is wearing his miter, so this event precedes the Consecration. As others have noted, it must the Offertory.

  33. schmenz says:

    Quite frankly, the Archdiocesan spokesman should not have said anything at all in response because, you see, regardless of what he actually said it will be PERCEIVED as back-tracking. And if these obnoxious reporters keep hammering away at the spokesman with ever more pointed questions this incident could get a whole lot worse. It happens constantly.

    Vigneron should have spoken himself, very simply, by saying to the reporters, “We are dealing with serious mortal sin here. The matter is closed.”

  34. Johnno says:

    NoraLee9 –

    No, Catholics sadly don’t read the Bible anymore. They believe what the world has told them. That the Bible is a bunch of made-up stories by hateful old celibate men from so long ago in the tree foraging past who were unscientific and love to start Protestant churches to interpret Scripture however they liked anyway and that Darwin and Copernicus and the englightened have shown us the way.

    6-Day ex-nihilo Creation and geocentrism make no sense to them. Rather they believe that the universe we inhabit is one of many in a universe generating machine of unknown origin that spontaneously popped into existence after a big explosion where afterwards 90% of the matter and energy needed decided to go dark and hide in another dimension (which is why we don’t see it) and spinning dust eventually magically transformed into planets and stars because of the merry-go-round principle where lightning bolts and water and acid magically produced biological life that somehow or rather turned into an extraterrestrial race or turned up on an asteroid that went across the universe, crash landed on a molten earth, magically survived all thsoe imaginary cooling processes and terraformed somehow, then through complexity reducing mechanisms of mutations ironically gained complexity to evolve into other forms of life where cells turned into fish into amphibians into mammals into people who would one day discover science and then use that science to determine that the reason all our fancy experiments cannot detect the Earth moving through space means that the Universe is relative and it is in fact that matter shrinks, space bends and time changes hands whenever moving in a given direction relative to the observer or some such nonsense. And thus, we can therefore have sex with whoever and whatever and however we like. There is no Truth, it’s all relative. Let’s hear it for modern man everyone!

  35. acricketchirps says:

    I believe in creation ex nihilo but geocentrism doesn’t make much sense to me. The truth ain’t all relative but motion all is.

  36. veritasmeister says:

    I think we would do well to take note of the log in our eyes, before dwelling on the speck in CNN’s.

    ‘Dial back’ was indeed inaccurate, and I have no idea why CNN would have used it. In fairness to the author and the report, headlines are usually written by somebody other than the report author. ‘Dial back’ does imply some kind of change or dilution of the original statement, and that did not occur. They were wrong to have used the term, but kudos to them for changing and correcting their headline.

    On the other hand, ‘reframe’, ‘step back’ [to add context], and ‘add context’ do not say or imply that there is a change of substantive content, only that the there is an elaboration and further re-statement by the speaker, not that the speaker has necessarily altered anything of substance. I see no problem with CNN using these terms.

    Instead of dwelling on what CNN is allegedly winking and nodding about, how about we examine what we’re doing? CNN got absolutely nothing right, Fr. Z? Really? Every single assertion in the report is false? [Those are your words, not mine.]

    And no, one does not need to be extraordinarily dense and/or willfully ignorant in order to be in journalism school. I know several journalism school graduates and working journalists. They’re not perfect, but dense and ignorant would not apply either.

    Is the same care that we want and expect from CNN being exercised here in what is written?

  37. j says:

    Schizmatic (not yet officially ex-Catholic) says
    “Our conscience is the guide, not the muddied pronouncements of some who would deny Communion.”

    and the comments include a “Independent Catholic Seminarian ” aka a non-Catholic anti-Catholic declaring that the Bishop committed “heresy”, womynpriests attacking a Church they no longer belong to, and gloating over desecrating the Eucharist, and multiple declarations that the good Bishop is demanding a “Theocracy” (by persons who clearly don’t understand the term )

    I am all for reaching out to those who are gay, and there is a need for charity for their special struggles to be faithful, but am shocked by the hatemongering of those who claim to be the ONLY people who can possibly understand.

  38. jhayes says:

    Fox News re: ++Vigneron’s statement.

    “The Detroit archbishop’s recent comments about communion and support for same sex marriage is still sparking debate among Catholics. Now a local priest is speaking out publicly against the archbishop’s approach.

    “Don’t stop going to communion. You’re okay,” said Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton.

    Long a progressive voice in Detroit’s Catholic community, Gumbleton is breaking with Archbishop Allen Vigneron days after Vigneron declared that supporters of same-sex marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion, comparing it to perjury.

    “If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you’re trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves,” Gumbleton said.

    The bishop says the church’s approach should be pastoral not punitive. Just this week, he counseled a couple with a gay son.

    “Husband, wife, raised seven children, Catholics all their lives, they’re in their eighties now, and the mother says to me, you know I can’t go to communion anymore,” said Gumbleton. “They’re hurt and she’s crying because we can’t go communion and that means so much to them.”

    Gumbleton says it’s a matter of conscience, which is deeply personal.

    “Not everybody’s going to come to the same conclusion at the same time, so we have to keep on working with people and trusting people that they’re trying to do the right thing,” he remarked.

    Gumbleton read from a pastoral letter penned years ago at a bishop’s conference called “Always Our Children.”

    “Judging the sinfulness of any particular act is a matter ultimately between God and the individual person.”

    He also says that an individual person must choose whether or not to receive communion.

    “Their conscience is the ultimate voice they have to follow,” Gumbleton explained. “A person coming up to communion has a right to make their own decision about am I in a state of grace?… Am I ready to receive? Well, that’s for the person to decide not for the minister or not for any bishop.”

    Read more:

  39. acardnal says:

    Retired Aux. Bp. Gumbleton of Detroit has a decades-long history of being one of the most liberal bishops in America. His positions are so contrary to Catholic teaching that he was asked by Bishop Sample of Marquette (now AB of Portland) not to speak in his diocese!

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