The Archbishop Vigneron debate is still boiling a bit here in Michigan.
The Detroit News printed a story yesterday about the “debate” on “Gay-Marriage” amongst Detroit-area Catholics. They referenced the original Freep article which quoted Archbishop Vigneron and Archdiocesan officials.
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.