Detroit Abp. Softens Approach to Gay Unions & Communion

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by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  August 11, 2015   

"That is a situation in which a person should see his or her pastor"

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DETROIT, August 12, 2015 ( - Detroit's archbishop Allen Vigneron has softened his take on whether someone who supports legalized gay unions should receive Communion.

Now, he says, following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent nationwide legalization of same-sex "marriage," anyone who supports someone in such unions should seek out his pastor for individual guidance.

Such a highly contextualized approach stands in marked contrast to his words in 2013, when he went on record saying that advocates of same-sex unions are to refrain from receiving the Eucharist. He said that to do so would be to profess two mutually inconsistent beliefs.

"For a Catholic to receive Holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the Church," he explained, "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," stated Abp. Vigneron.

He seems to be backtracking from — or at least toning down — the direct and clear way he handled the subject two years ago. In his latest treatment of the topic, he only endorses a case-by-case approach, holding back from any general proscriptions apart from universal calls to communion or suggestions to see one's pastor.

Providing the rationale for his new take, he simply insists, "Given the variety of circumstances which go into a person's particular situation, the best way forward for one person may not be best for another."

The archbishop still maintains, of course, that the goal for everyone should ultimately be communion with Jesus and His Church. That doesn't quite address the heart of the dispute, though, since it fails to cover what must be done (or avoided) in order for such communion to be genuine.

Officials from pro-homosexual "Catholic" outfits like New Ways Ministries and Fortunate Families — both rejected by Church authorities — are praising Abp. Vigneron's apparent change in tone.

Here is his full statement, given to the Detroit Free Press when asked if he still affirms what he said two years ago about supporters of gay legal unions not approaching for Communion:

When Catholics have a question about the reception of Holy Communion and their relationship with a family member or loved one with a same-sex attraction, that is a situation in which a person should see his or her pastor. It involves both the teaching of the Church, which Catholics hold as indispensable in guiding their relationship with Christ, and the obligation we have to love and support our family members.

The Church and her pastors are there to help harmonize these priorities — of being faithful to and open about the truth, and of being loving and compassionate to fellow Catholics in their personal and family lives. Given the variety of circumstances which go into a person's particular situation, the best way forward for one person may not be best for another.

In every situation the best solution is the one that assists Catholics to express their love for a family member in accordance with the conviction they solemnly affirm in receiving Holy Communion, that is, their commitment to think and act in communion with Christ and his Church. Whenever it comes to Communion, the objective is never to steer a person away. Rather it is to steer them toward Communion with Jesus and toward the Good News about God's love and God's will for humanity. That is the work of the Church.


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