Archbp. Vigneron defends statement on Communion and supporters of same-sex marriage

From LifeSite:

Detroit Archbishop defends his stance that gay ‘marriage’ supporters should not receive Communion

DETROIT, Sept. 24, 2013 ( – Despite strong criticism and a public rebuke from another bishop, Detroit’s Archbishop Allen Vigneron has reaffirmed his insistence that Catholics who support same-sex “marriage” should not receive Holy Communion.

The archbishop was speaking to media at a pro-life vigil in Motor City on Saturday. [Therefore after the release of TheBigInterview™.]

“I don’t think they were hurtful,” he said of his comments from April, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I think they were straightforward. There’s nothing hurtful in telling people the truth.”

“And the truth is that… the teaching of the church about marriage is God’s way for us to flourish,” he added. “That’s what I want people to know.”

On April 7th, the archbishop had stressed, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, that a Catholic must be committed to Church teaching if they present themselves for Holy 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,’” he said. “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.”


Fr. Z kudos to Archbp. Vigneron.

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  1. McCall1981 says:

    Thank you Archbp. Vigneron!

  2. jacobi says:

    Good for Archbishop Vigneron. Of course people who support or commit sodomy should not receive Holy Communion. That is self evident.

    However, the Holy Father was perhaps right recently in suggesting we perhaps put too much emphasis on just a few mortal sins such as abortion, adultery and of course sodomy. There are after all, many other serious sins such as gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, as well as those others crying out to Heaven.
    The Holy Father has highlighted the means of overcoming all of these sins, namely, the Sacrament of Confession, along with contrition, and a firm purpose of amendment.

    Personally, I suspect that the commonest sin these days amongst the great unschriven Faithful routinely shuffling forward to receive the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ on Sunday morning, apart from contraception , that is, is presumption, that deadly form of pride. But that is only a suspicion mark you. After all, who am I to judge!

  3. Servus Tuus says:

    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.

    What a truly outstanding comment! A bishop with a backbone. We need more holy bishops like him.

    Might you consider sending His Excellency a note of thanks? That is what I am going to do.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Vigneron. It would be nice if the USCCB would make a united statement on this point.

  5. Andkaras says:

    Archbp. Vigneron is truly one of the kindest and gentlest of men that you could ever want to meet .To speak out against him could only be an act of ill will. We are most heartily blessed to have him as our Bishop.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    I’m trying to remember when the Jesus of the scriptures turned someone away from the table because she or he did not buy in totally to everything he had to say. Come to think of it, even Peter the denier was welcome at the Last Supper.

    With all due respect my opinion is that this prelate is taking the wrong tack.

  7. MarkG says:

    The Wikipedia article has the following very disturbing information about ArchBishop Vigneron:
    ” On April 21, 2011, as Archbishop of Detroit, he participated in an interfaith vigil held at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.”

  8. Late for heaven says:

    With all due respect Fr Jim what you say is either silly or wicked. All are welcome to attend mass. But one has to be properly disposed to receive communion, at least according to St. Paul and all the church fathers since the Didache. And Peter, by the way, had not yet denied Our Lord at the time of the Last Supper.

    Really, I have to instruct you on this stuff? What did you study in the seminary?

  9. Dave N. says:

    And as for contraceptors? Catholics who actively pursue IVF? Cohabitors? Supporters of and politicians who work for abortion on demand? Should they be receiving Holy Communion?

    When the Church focuses too closely (or perhaps “obsesses”) on ONLY the sin of moment to the exclusion of all others, our entire moral stance comes across as hypocritical claptrap.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    So, “Late,” the other bishop who criticized the approach in question is also silly and evil?

    Dave, I concur with you.

  11. Dave, obviously none of those you mention are properly disposed for Holy Communion. That’s easy.

    Here’s one that may be harder. A priest who rejects any Church doctrine is clearly not properly disposed for Holy Communion. But supposed he’s obligated to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and cannot complete the immolation without receiving. What should he do? Go ahead and commit an additional sin of sacrilege?

  12. Dave N. says:

    Henry, the point is, when was the last time you heard a priest or bishop say that someone who is practicing contraception or IVF (just as examples) is not to present themselves for communion? I have NEVER ONCE heard a priest or bishop say that.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    “What should he do? Go ahead and commit an additional sin of sacrilege?” – H.E.

    Well, it would certainly not be sacrilege b/c I don’t air these kinds of views publicly in the exercise of my official duties. I’ve already stated here that I don’t believe in confusing the faithful and I certainly don’t think bringing my pet peeves into the pulpit with me is constructive.

    And frankly I don’t agree that dissenting in the matter of equal civil marriage is grave matter. The prelate’s opinion is just that; it is not dogmatic.

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Henry Edwards — That’s an old one. If you’re interested in cases and casuistry, there are whole manuals of this stuff. Why ask in a combox?

  15. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “However, the Holy Father was perhaps right recently in suggesting we perhaps put too much emphasis on just a few mortal sins such as abortion, adultery and of course sodomy.”

    jacobi – Was he right? I wonder. Doesn’t the Church have the duty to confront the mass-advocacy of what it regards as sinful, to prevent Catholics from sliding into error? Yesterday (1930-60) it was totalitarianism, today it’s personal libertarianism. Surely it’s this addressing of the contemporary issue that is the essential way the Church can best ‘move with the times’. Sweeping it under a carpet of smiling bonhomie isn’t any use at all to anyone – least of all the sinner. It’s like a teacher telling the class they’re all talented angels. They know they’re not. And they won’t respect their teacher for the soft soap.

    “There are after all, many other serious sins””
    There are. But these days there is not much strong public advocacy for oppressing the widow and the orphan, or for defrauding labourers of their wages, however rife those two other sins that ‘cry to heaven for vengeance’ may be.

    But abortion and adultery and ssm have been turned into a political mass-campaign of advocacy, with party politicians fighting to be the one who says ‘me too’ first. And we have many useful idiots in the pews who just want to be ‘nice’ and who confuse the Gospel with the sayings of Bambi’s Mother.

    The Holy Father may well (understandably) want to address the sins of murder in the womb, adultery, unchastity and ssm less frequently: but they can’t be avoided – repentance is also a big part of ‘The Gospel’. It was not the Church that began to discuss and question their sinfulness: it was those who insist their sin be now accepted as sinless, passively supported by the flock of sheep who hate confrontation and do not understand the seriousness of sin. The scandal is not that Archbishop Vigneron should impose the sanctions of the Church, but that so many Bishops round the world lack his moral courage.

    In passing, one has to observe that all three of the above sins involve a lot of profitable business (lawyers, medics, retail sales, public admin jobs) and vast numbers of votes. The poor sinners are being made a fool of by mass-consumerism.

  16. TomG says:

    What is this “this prelate/the prelate” nonsense? The man is the archbishop of Detroit. And, Dave, those practicing contraception or seeking IVF or cohabiting are not parading it around! The latter are festering wounds that have been around a long time. I agree they need to be addressed. But in none of those cases do we have secular authority ramming something down our throats. SS “marriage” – it must be challenged.

  17. Dave, I agree with you. In that much of the reason for the current moral disintegration lies in the failure of the Church to teach recent generations about mortal sins and their consequences, ranging from indisposition to receive Holy Communion to eternal damnation. And, in addition, about the scandal of public support of sinful behavior, itself a serious sin.

  18. jacobi says:

    Vecchio de Londres,
    I do not disagree with anything you say. My slightly, I trust, satirical comments were designed to raise just these points.

    “Was he right”, well it’s probably not for me to say how he does his job. He is the Vicar of Christ on Earth after all, and whatever diverting remarks he makes about “who am I to judge”, he is the person to judge. That is his job. That’s precisely why he is Pope.

    Two points. I worry about the extent that the Catholic Faithful and many so-called Catholic thinkers have become Secularised in their standards in the post-Vatican II period and secondly, about the very real attempt to airbrush sin out of existence. As you say

    “it was those who insist their sin be now accepted as sinless”

    Sin exists. It is, in its many forms, as obvious as the proverbial sack of potatoes (Chesterton?), and every bit as ugly. It was to save us from its consequences that Christ chose to be lashed, and hung from the nails in his hands.

  19. I am not a canonist, nor do I play one on television. Nevertheless, even as a simple layman, I think anyone who understands the English language can grasp the elements of the operative canon (Canon 915), which states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” ISTM that Archbishop Vigneron has been publicly consistent and unambiguous on the issue in question and has thus fulfilled that part of his responsibility to be the teacher and overseer of his flock.

    If one recognizes that “obstinately persevering in” signifies that one is habitually and/or repeatedly engaging in, and that “manifest grave sin” signifies “grave sin” that is openly and publicly displayed, it should not be that difficult for any native speaker of English (canonist, cleric, or lay) to come to the correct conclusion in this case. It does not require any great command of the English language, nor of canon law to come to the correct conclusion. I am quite confident that Archbishop Vigneron gave the matter serious consideration in framing his response. And I include in that conclusion the retired Auxiliary Bishop Gumbleton as one who should know better, and, given his contribution to the conversation, I would be incline to question his competence (with respect to his conclusion) and his judgment in unnecessarily entering into the affray.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  20. maryh says:

    @frjim4321 I’m trying to remember when the Jesus of the scriptures turned someone away from the table because she or he did not buy in totally to everything he had to say.
    The rich man he told to sell everything and follow him.
    The money changers in the temple.
    The pharisees that put large burdens on people without lifting a finger to help.

    He didn’t exactly turn them away. What he required of them drove them away.

  21. av8er says:

    Maryh: as well as the bread of life discourse itself! Scripture says that His disciples left Him and no longer followed Him! Did Christ say “whoa there pals, I was just kidding?” Nope, He turned to His disciples and asked if they would leave Him too.

    I wonder Fr. jim, what “kinds of views” do you air “publicly in the exercise of my official duties?” if not things to avoid that would kill the life of Christ in each of us?

  22. av8er says:

    Oh yeah, coincidentally, or not, that specific verse is John 6:66. The verse where His disciples turned away from Christ.

  23. Matt R says:

    Late for heaven, I don’t take issue with the two options you present i.e. silliness or wickedness. But we must always presume good intentions and ignorance when possible.

    Yes, Fr. Jim, I think Cardinal Wuerl (who I presume is the “other bishop” you refer to) is extremely silly for not using the medicinal remedies found in canon law to discipline sons and daughters of the Church who have strayed.

  24. slainewe says:

    When I contemplate the Cave of Bethlehem I often wonder if Our Lady saw the sign of the Divine Infant in the Manger in all its horror: that millions upon millions of future Catholics would receive Her Son, their Redeemer and Savior, with the indifference that an ox and an ass bring to their hay.

    And He would forgive us.

  25. Imrahil says:

    two contradictory things at once: ‘I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the Church teaches,’”

    With utmost humility…

    Your Grace (and others),
    these things are not, technically, contradictory. They are about the worst you can actually get, but it is not, strictly speaking, logically impossible to believe in the Truth and reject it. It is a sin.

    (I only say that because contradiction is such a forceful tool in argumentation and is not in this way present here.

  26. Johnno says:

    frjim4321 –

    Is the Body and Blood of Christ just another meal to you? Certainly then, there is no problem sharing ‘meals’ with others at your table. But the body of Christ is not a mere ‘meal.’ It is a giving of Christ Himself who humbly places Himself in your hands desiring that you treat Him with respect and deliver Him to those that love and obey Him, and not hand Him off to those who would beat, torture , spit in His face and kill Him.

    If you had someone you love, say a daughter, would you let her give herself body and soul to a man who is worthy, or one who would treat her with contempt, respect nothing of the things she stands for, but only lustfully desire to have her body but use her in any contrary way he wished?

    If you did give her away to just about anyone, you commit two wrongs – you betray her, and you also freely allow the other to commit grave sin without trying to stop him.

    You would therefore not be a caring individual. You would be an irresponsible coward.

    And the Eucharist has everything to do with marriage. One man and one woman, two distinct beings of two nautres, give their bodies to each other to become one flesh. This is a type that points to the union of human beings and God, beings of two distinct natures, joining themselvs, taking ones body into onself to become as one. The intimacy of marriage is to reflect the intimacy of our union with God. Of the Church as the bride of Christ. A Temple made of living stones, human bodies, one flesh.

    Homosexuality spits in the face of this and denies this. It denies reality, it denies nature, it denies the intent of the Creator and denies the final end to which we all must choose. The marriage of heaven and earth. Or the eternal divorce of heaven and hell. Homosexuality is therefore ideologically dangerous to every human beings soul. And you should care enough to fight against it, or simply admit that you, like them reject God and union with Him too and therefore that is why you have no problem casting the Body of our Lord to just about anyone, telling yourself you don’t wish to be ‘political’, but really you don’t wish to take a stand for what is right.

    When the day of the wedding feat does arrive, and the table and laid and set. There will be those without oil, those turned away, those in the seat of honor told to go towards the back, and those on the right and on the left. God does intend to separate us, and you’d best decidewhether you would be hot or cold, because the lukewarm will not be tolerated.

  27. RJHighland says:

    What I find interesting is that following the Big Interview with Pope Francis you have Archbp Vigneron denying communion to those that support same sex marriage, Card. Burke stating that Rep. Palosi is to be denied communion and the Australian Priest has been defrocked and excommunicated. Very intersting. Hey 40 yrs. of Catholic Politicians supporting abortion and every other evil in society and finally a Vatican offical, not the Pope denies one of them communion horroy, hip hip horray. Now that is truley cutting edge and decisive leadership. Pope Francis got all the libs really excited with his interview statements and following interpretation. Is the Vatican playing Good cop/Bad Cop? One thing for sure there does not appear to be a whole lot of concensis and there definately area a whole lot of confused Catholics, just another typical day in the Church Militant. Clarity appears to be highly over rated.

  28. wmeyer says:

    Henry Edwards, the single most common topic in most of the serious discussions I have with priests and others about the problems in our parishes today is the long-term lack of catechesis. This is what leads cradle Catholics to believe that their (ill-formed or unformed) conscience trumps Church doctrine. It is what lets these same people believe that they can, in clear conscience, vote for pro-abort politicians. And of course, it also accounts for those in the pews who cannot understand why women cannot be ordained, or why priests teaching against the Church should be laicized.

    As to what makes some priests believe that what the Church teaches should change with fashion, I can only speculate that it probably involves the activity of the demons in which so many of them do not believe.

  29. gracie says:

    According to ‘Protect the Pope’:

    “Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, an emeritus bishop of Detroit, sought to undermine the words of his own Archbishop by appearing on Fox TV to encourage the Catholics of Detroit to ignore the pronouncement of Archbishop Vigneron. Bishop Gumbleton said to Catholic supporters of gay marriage, ‘Don’t stop going to communion. You’re okay'”.:

    This is a scandal in itself. Can’t Archbishop Vigneron order Bishop Gumbleton to stop speaking on this matter?

  30. oldCatholigirl says:

    As far as I can tell, Archbishop Vigneron was providing sorely needed catechesis for Catholics in his statement. Strictly speaking, I suppose that the contradiction he refers to is in receiving Communion while simultaneously accepting/rejecting Catholic teaching (rather than believing/rejecting). In any case, its up to the individual going before Our Lord to receive Him to know his/her own mind and have the integrity to refrain if that mind is not in accord with Church teaching. Except in the case of highly recognizable, public figures who have consistently contradicted Church teaching without publically recanting, I don’t think it is the job of the priest to scrutinize every person receiving Communion and make an on-the-spot decision as to their eligibility. Nor do I think it possible. Archbishop Vigneron has helped individuals to form their consciences with his statement and deserves thanks–certainly not the insubordination of Bp. Gumbleton.
    BTW, as far as I know, it is not endemic sinfulness which should keep us from Communion, nor vulnerability to one or the other of the seven “deadly” sins, which need not be “mortal” sins. I was taught, years ago, that Communion has its medicinal side–which is probably a topic for another post.

  31. Nancy D. says:

    There is nothing that precludes pope Francis from mandating that a statement be made before every Catholic Mass, as part of the instruction for receiving the Sacrament of The Eucharist, that those persons who deny the truth about the Sanctity of Human Life from the moment of conception, and the Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, are not in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and should not be presenting themselves to receive Holy Communion.

  32. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:
    I’m trying to remember when the Jesus of the scriptures turned someone away from the table because she or he did not buy in totally to everything he had to say. Come to think of it, even Peter the denier was welcome at the Last Supper.

    Peter had not yet denied Christ.

    But you raise an interesting question. NB:

    1. “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” 1 Cor 11:27.

    2. At the Last Supper, although Judas had already intentionally : Detrayed Christ, He had not yet been arrested.

    3. We can see the connection between the agreement to betray Christ and unworthy Communion, also between unworthy Communion and the actual betrayal-murder of Christ.

    4, So the question is: Does the unworthy reception of Holy Communion actually incline someone more toward evil rather than good? If so, it directly contradicts bishops who think it benefits those are permitted to receive unworthily.

    I seem to recall something St Augustine said about Sacraments being a blessing for a believer but a curse for the heretic (Corruptio ultimi est pessima).

  33. slainewe says:

    Nancy D.

    Better yet – the proclamation ex cathedra of a LIFE DOGMA and a MARRIAGE DOGMA.

    (Watch liberal heads explode if “their”pope becomes the one who brings back the restorative power of dogmas with their accompanying anathemas.)

  34. Fr AJ says:

    That’s odd, I don’t recall Jesus chasing down his followers who didn’t accept his teaching on the Bread of Life in John’s Gospel. He didn’t tell them they didn’t really need to believe what he was saying to keep following him.

  35. netokor says:

    ” I’ve already stated here that I don’t believe in confusing the faithful and I certainly don’t think bringing my pet peeves into the pulpit with me is constructive.

    “And frankly I don’t agree that dissenting in the matter of equal civil marriage is grave matter. The prelate’s opinion is just that; it is not dogmatic.”

    You certainly are confusing me. Would not a homosexual civil “marriage” include unnatural relations? By condoning sinful behaviour you put your soul and those you guide in great danger. Help me out of my confusion: It seems to me you think there is nothing wrong with unnatural sexual relations. The Church is very clear that they are sinful. You should obey the Church. This is not an insult. Just an objective observation: It seems to me you are really a heretical priest. If I am confused you must help me out, because, again, you don’t believe in confusing us.

  36. Imrahil says:

    It is true that voting for same-sex marriages does not logically constitute condoning homosexual behaviour. Take for clarity’s sake the case of so called “legal partnerships” which are not allowed to call themselves marriage. These, although unacceptable, are certainly far less unacceptable. And here, those who advocate for them do not advocate for homosexual behaviour.

    They advocate that those who practice homosexual behaviour put some order into it by giving it a form.

    We could compare it with our toilet at school: one note “Smoking forbidden”, another note, “ciggies into the ashtray please” (no joke btw).

    Having legal partnerships is to be rejected on the grounds of sense (there is no good they would be there for), prudence, tactics, etc., but they do not formally constitute condoning homosexual behaviour.

    Having same-sex marriage on the other hand, by its very definition, constitutes rebelling against the God-given (and, if we depart from the realm of politically correct speeches, even today universally accepted) nature of marriage. (Whether the behavior is homosexual is, as to the principal question, the smaller problem. The Church has always treated sins as light matter compared with heresies.) Frankly, whether that thing is dogmatized yet or not is of rather little interest.

  37. Imrahil,

    You write:

    Having legal partnerships is to be rejected on the grounds of sense (there is no good they would be there for)

    I believe you are incorrect in denying that there might be good grounds for extending many of the civil benefits to people who might benefit from being able to form a legally cognizable “household.”

    In a First Things panel about a decade ago Catholic Law Professor Robert P. George proposed that there be NO same sex marriage, but that we (including the state) should not base anything new on whether two (or more people) share a bedroom nor on what they do in that room. Those who would rightfully benefit might well include many who are not interested in engaging in what we would consider immoral behavior, and I seem to recall reading that even Aquinas advised against attempting to criminalize all sinful behavior. Consider just a few examples: a young woman with an infirm elderly aunt who is not able to live alone without assistance. Were the two women to establish a legally cognizable household, and if it persisted for one or more full years (including full tax years) why ought we deny them the ability to enable the niece to care for the aunt’s needs by granting such a legally established (registered) household to file joint tax returns? Would it not be more charitable to recognize the niece’s contribution to the care of the aunt, thereby making such care possible without great expense? I believe that a little reflection on the vicissitudes of life will show that there will be many such small associations that would justly benefit from sharing expenses not limited to the income tax. And many of those will involve the relief of some of the burdens of life on one or more of the involve individuals.

    I will state that I concur with Professor George, and consequently find your objection an over-reach, at least to some degree.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

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