"I wish to communicate through this letter that a Mass for Dignity/Detroit members — one which rejects Church teaching on human sexuality — is not possible in any parish church, chapel or diocesan facility and is indeed forbidden everywhere in the archdiocese of Detroit."
— Most Rev. Gerard W. Battersby, auxiliary bishop of Detroit
A remarkable letter written by an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) and sent to all priests in the diocese criticizes the notorious pro-gay group Dignity/Detroit and forbids Dignity Masses throughout the six counties of the metropolitan area.
It is the first time the AOD has formally criticized Dignity/Detroit and comes only two weeks after a damning Church Militant Special Report, "A Tale of Two Priests," cited remarkable differences between the warm regard that Abp. Allen Vigneron apparently has for Fr. Victor Clore, one of the AOD's longest-standing supporters of Dignity, compared to the savage treatment he's given Fr. Eduard Perrone, from whose parish, Assumption Grotto, the most persistent criticism of Dignity has come, going back to the 1980s.
"I wish to communicate through this letter that a Mass for Dignity/Detroit members — one which rejects Church teaching on human sexuality — is not possible in any parish church, chapel or diocesan facility and is indeed forbidden everywhere in the Archdiocese of Detroit," Aux. Bp. Gerard Battersby advised priests in the 830-word letter titled "Mass for Dignity/Detroit."
The letter also criticized Dignity/Detroit for its stance on "some of the Church's teaching on sexual morality," calling the situation a "source of sadness," and asked all priests to "support the Courage and EnCourage apostolates, and to refrain from offering Mass anywhere in the archdiocese of Detroit for Dignity/Detroit, lest we confuse the faithful by seeming to endorse an alternative and contradictory path to sanctity."
While the request for priests to "refrain" from offering Masses for Dignity/Detroit represents a dramatic break from entrenched AOD policy — going back to Dignity/Detroit's founding in 1974 — and brings it somewhat in line with then-Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger's 1986 admonition to U.S. bishops to denounce groups like Dignity, Battersby's letter at the same time reveals the strength of the homosexual network in the diocese. It also spotlights Abp. Vigneron's fear of offending the "lavender mafia," a point of conjecture made publicly by Sacred Heart seminary Professor Mary Healy 15 months ago.
DignityUSA is a national group that promotes all things LGBT, and the Detroit chapter has taken pro-gay activism to an extraordinary level since its 1974 launch by then-seminary professor and current Detroit Aux. Bp. Francis Reiss.
The group has always maintained strong public and private support of AOD cardinals and bishops. In fact, some Dignity priests hold positions of great power in the chancery, in parishes and in local colleges and universities. As documented in a 2018 Church Militant article on Detroit's homosexual network, at least nine known Dignity clerics remain pastors, and one of the most prominent Dignity priests, Fr. Robert Williams, works in the archdiocesan Tribunal.
It is no exaggeration to say Dignity/Detroit and its like-minded gay and gay-friendly priests are holding Vigneron hostage, which is why a careful reading of Bp. Battersby's letter may reveal what proves to be an intentional mess of meaningless ambiguity.
As an example of the chokehold the group has over Vigneron, this month it was announced that prominent Dignity priest and sometimes-seminary professor Fr. Mark Gawronski will transfer in July to serve as pastor of two parishes in the Downriver area, one of which is St. Cyprian in Riverview, currently pastored by Dignity priest Fr. William Promesso.
For many years, St. Cyprian and several other Detroit parishes were under the control of the Crosier order of priests, which went into hiding after 2002 when at least six Crosier priest/pastors who served in the AOD were revealed to be pederasts. Two were involved with the local high school, Gabriel Richard in Riverview, which was linked to St. Cyprian, and still is.
Not surprisingly, the Crosiers contributed directly to the flagrantly homosexualist stance of the school's staff and curriculum, which emerged in the early 1980s and continues today.
Those who follow the assignments of AOD priests see unmistakable trends. It's not a coincidence, for example, that a parish like St. Cyprian, which housed gay Crosier molesters for many years, is again soon to be under the control of a Dignity priest for the foreseeable future after the new assignments kick in during the summer.
I and others spent several years doing quite a bit of research into Dignity/Detroit beginning in 1994 and have written about it for several national Catholic publications — most recently for Church Militant. We (including an undercover 28-year-old gay man) learned that the group, at least back in the 1990s, was essentially a sex club for priests and laymen. I was unable then and am still unable to figure out any other reason for its existence.
The presence of the homosexual network throughout the Church demands secrecy, deceit and sometimes startling statements that are on their face impossible to believe. In this regard Bp. Battersby toes the company line.
Near the end of his letter, Battersby states:
I've been asked why this matter was not addressed previously, and I assume the answer is that a pastoral approach employing the principle of lex gradualitatis was in place, though I have nothing to base this on except a presumption of charity. Beyond this presumption, I have no further information as I was not yet part of the team entrusted with this portion of pastoral care to men and women who experience same-sex attraction.
A priest educated for at least four years at Sacred Heart Seminary before his ordination 22 years ago, Battersby puts forth the idea that he actually doesn’t know why his bosses have encouraged Dignity all these years? He certainly knows far more than any layman about Detroit bishops John Nienstedt, Thomas Gumbleton and Francis Reiss, who have scandalized faithful area Catholics for decades.
Sane people may be inclined to ask: "How stupid do they think we are?" "We" — the countless number of parents who are, at this point, 45 years into the reign of Dignity/Detroit and its ilk running the AOD — are simply sick and tired of the new pronouns and the always weak, pathetic response from bishops regarding in-your-face, promiscuously gay priests who are also known to be on the hunt to bed their sons.
Perhaps Bp. Battersby wrote this letter with a figurative gun to his head from Abp. Vigneron in response to major AOD donors who read Church Militant's coverage of the Dignity scandal and have finally told the archbishop they want serious change. These donors are sick of Vigneron's duplicity and outright lies associated with his support of Dignity and, more recently, his baseless attack on Fr. Perrone.
Batterbsy's missive seems to be mainly a tool for the fundraisers in the chancery, intended to deceive conservatives into thinking Vigneron opposes Dignity and is fighting back against the LGBT agenda, when he is not. And he won't, possibly because Abp. Vigneron and too many of his friends and colleagues owe their careers and their secure future to the Dignity crowd.