So the good Archbishop Vigneron continues to face opposition to his clear explanation of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Today, protestors marched outside of the Archdiocese of Detroit carrying banners and flags in support of “Gay-Marriage.” From HuffPost-Detroit:
Most of the people carrying signs and rainbow flags while marching slowly along the sidewalk in front of the Archdiocese of Detroit on Thursday afternoon didn’t fit the typical profile a church protester. A majority of the group of 30 or so sign-holders were in their 50s and much older — and they all called themselves Catholics.
Aside from the misstatement of what Archbishop Vigneron said, there is quite a bit of interesting tid-bits in this article.
The problem is not that these folks are protesting but that we have created a situation within the Church where the faithful believe their opinion is paramount. Or even, that the Archbishop’s opinion is the matter at hand.
The Church isn’t about opinion. It is about the ultimate Truth that is Jesus Christ.
Does the Church need to do a better job of communicating the Doctrine of the Church? Yes.
But this is true about marriage, contraception, co-habitation, social justice, abortion, families, education, and a lot of other things. The Church is pure truth in that it rests upon God. The people of the Church have faults as we all do. Reconciliation is a Sacrament because we all need to be forgiven for our faults. But what we can’t do, or expect, is that the Church will one day say, Sins are ok as long as you do most everything else we say.
Doctrine is a holistic inter-connected system of belief. It exists as a perfect puzzle of truth. Like a mathematical equation, we can’t simply pick and choose what parts we like and don’t and expect the answer to come out correct. Jesus certainly said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor. But it doesn’t end there, he finishes by saying that all the rest rely upon those. Meaning: yes, we must love and accept one another but acceptance doesn’t mean that we stop striving for truth.
Earlier this month, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron took the stance that Catholics who support gay marriage should not take Communion, sparking an uproar on both sides of the issue.
They freshened the story up by finding some new folks to quote. On the Catholic side of things, they have a statement from Jay McNally, former editor of the Michigan Catholic, now radio and political pundit, who said:
The Church can never, never change its stance on the man/woman relationship being the only kind of marriage there can be,” said Jay McNally, former Michigan Catholic editor. “What we need is good, sound teaching from the bishops, and that is what Vigneron was trying to do.
He is 100% right about the fact that we need good sound teaching from the bishops. The biggest problem in this overall equation is that the pewsitters have been left to fend for themselves amongst the wolves of the world and develop their own understanding of what the Church’s teaching on marriage is.
Many people have been left to their own devices to balance the scant theology they are taught, with the sometimes-obtuse social doctrine that many priests, so-called Catholic groups, and others preach when it comes to social justice, love, and acceptance.
That is not to say that these latter things are wrong, or that every priest, bishop, and Church program is problematic, but that systemically there are problems and holes.
These weak-spots if you will are the areas where people then take it upon themselves to blend social understand and doctrine.
Case-in-point, a quote from the same story from David Garcia, executive director of Affirmations, Michigan’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization:
The Archbishop is on the wrong side of history, which, in the context of the Vatican, should surprise no one.
I would suggest to Archbishop Vigneron that he concentrate on feeding and clothing the poor and nursing the sick and stay out of our bedrooms.
This statement isn’t a big shock when you see the group he represents, but the kicker comes when you see that the story informs that David was “raised Catholic.” The “feeding the poor, clothing the sick” rhetoric might not be a complete reference to Pope Francis, but instead is symbolic of a larger notion.
This sentiment, that the Church is antiquated socially, and off-track in its mission is not an uncommon one – unfortunately. The biggest perpetrator of this seems to be: former Catholics.
To lend support to my point a few more paragraphs from the article:
Same-sex marriage also holds majority support among Catholics, according to a March poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. The poll shows 54 percent of Catholic voters support it, while 38 percent oppose it. The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who plans to lead an LBGT-friendly service May 5 at Marygrove Chapel in Detroit, says Catholics have received some conflicting messages lately, citing a statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York.
‘When the people come, they are acknowledged as gay and lesbian people. But as Cardinal Dolan said, we want them to come to church. There are some priests who don’t agree with that. So either we do want them to come or we don’t,’ said Gumbleton.
As for LGBT individuals and supporters being told they can’t take communion, Gumbleton said, ‘Many are hurt that way.’
Now, Bishop Gumbleton is no stranger to this debate, or to controversy. In fact, he is the same Bishop that Archbishop Sample, then Bishop of Marquette, refused to allow to speak in the Diocese of Marquette due to Gumbleton’s failure to follow protocol and decision to speak on things which were highly-questionable.
Unfortunately, Bishop Gumbleton makes a comment like the one above, and people take that to be the Church’s stance – that some how Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Gumbleton are on two opposite sides of a coin, when in fact they aren’t, nor should they be.
For Archbishop Vigneron this was never, and will never, be about accepting homosexuals to Church, or even to Communion. Yet, when Bishop Gumbleton says that practicing homosexuals are “hurt” by being told not to take Communion, he is teaching contrary to the faith. As the Archdiocese has pointed out, if a person were to sin gravely, and then take Communion without contrite heart and confession – they too would would be committing the same wrong.
This isn’t solely about homosexual marriage, but about the teachings of the Church. It is about sin, doctrine, and the “Source and Summit” of Christian life – The Holy Eucharist.
We must have priests and bishops willing to be bold and courageous and stand up for all the teachings of the faith. To instruct the faithful in not only the position of the Church on things, but why it has that stance.
We must present the faith in a holistic way. That through all the teachings there is a continuity of Christ born unto the world, crucified, died, and resurrected. That there is ultimate truth which is the fabric of life, a truth that transcends politics, social structure, and even death.
But the Church can’t be about “issues.” It can’t speak to “Gay-Marriage” in a vacuum anymore than it should speak about “contraception” in a vacuum. Just as we can’t understand the Immaculate Conception aside from the true understanding of Jesus as both man and God.
The Church must be about faith, hope, and love. But with those things there must be continuity, truth, and honesty. We must be taught to understand things in entirety and not just the bits and pieces that are easiest, or least controversial. As a faith we can’t pick and choose what parishes ascribe to certain beliefs so as to create islands of he faith that are comfortable.
The Cross is not comfortable. It is hard, painful, and all consuming. As Jesus walked towards that Cross he fell and got back up again so as to ascend it for us and our failings. We do ourselves a disservice, but we insult his ascent on Calvary when we make the Cross about fitting our needs to His truth.
There have been quite a few news reports and blog posts since Archbishop Vigneron made statements earlier in the week about the reception of Communion by supporters of “Gay-marriage.” I wanted to create a list for some that are hoping to get caught up on the matter.
I think that answers my questions from earlier. I will continue to monitor this, and add more later.
The Free Press this morning had a front web-page story about Archbishop Vigneron. It was about the Holy Eucharist and people who publically support things like “Gay-marriage.”
The article is written by their religion beat writer, whom I am somewhat familiar with from Twitter. In terms of Catholic coverage, they are fairly straight forwardin their approach but hardly ever crack even the surface of basic understanding of the faith. I don’t expect much from a paper on such matters because it isn’t their expertise, so I read everything with a grain of salt hoping they don’t trash Catholicism.
This had to be some sort of stretch-of-truth or maybe it was a contortion of various statements, added to this or that, and an insinuation stretched into a statement. This is a pretty profound thing, especially in our state where we have quite a few public Catholic’s that support many things from Abortion to ‘Same-sex marriage.’
So I read the article quickly, and then tried to corroborate it with… anything. I couldn’t. So that is my caveat. This is one article, I don’t know when and where the Archbishop said the following, but hopefully the reporter did their job. If this turns out to be something that it is not… I will let you know:
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.
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.”
This is a strong statement from an Archbishop. He has always been very careful, and tactful in his statements and so I am not surprised to see that he has been careful to speak strongly and yet at the same time carefully wrap those words in spiritual truth and care. This clearly isn’t about politics to him, but the truth of the teachings of the Church. He uses words such as integrity, logically, personal disaster, and contradict.
To Vigneron, this is a factual analysis of truth and Church teaching. This isn’t about opinion or desire, but about what is and isn’t allow in the faith. But that analysis, or its theological underpinnings aren’t arbitrary. This is about a cohesive and logical construction of truths and beliefs that must fit together in continuity.
I am going to work on getting more information about when and where this was said, and to see if there are more comments that accompany it. This is a huge statement for Michigan, and for other Bishops around the country. I pray that this statement is presented in proper context and that this isn’t some stretch to create controversy. I also pray that it unifies the Church.