Devil’s Advocate Inquiry: Part I

by Church Militant  •  •  October 4, 2018   

Is Archbishop Vigneron the American Catholic Church's Kim Philby?

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By Advocatus Diaboli

Office of the Promoter of the Faith

Editor's note: The author of this article, Jay McNally, uses the Latin pseudonym for “Devil's Advocate” to stress that this treatise is written in the spirit of the role of the Vatican's key figures involved in the process leading to the canonization of saints.

The term "devil's advocate" describes "someone who, given a certain point of view, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with (or simply an alternative position from the accepted norm), for the sake of debate or to explore the thought further."

The Devil's Advocate's argument here is being made to spur an intelligent discussion/debate about what has been woefully lacking about archdiocese of Detroit (AOD), and is all the more important because next month, Abp. Allen Vigneron will take office as secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a launching point for possible elevation to USCCB president when Cdl. Daniel DiNardo steps down in November 2019.

The Devil's Advocate's argument is this: Detroit Abp. Allen Vigneron may be a cunning enemy of the Catholic faith who has been working for more than 40 years with a loyal band of colleagues — some of whom were his seminary classmates — to undermine both the Church and all of Western civilization.

Right out of college in 1970 Vigneron was put on the career path to the highest levels in the Church by Cdl. John Dearden, archbishop of Detroit from 1958–1980, who sent him to study in Rome. By that time, Dearden had already proclaimed his radical designs to "change the DNA" of the Church into a new kind of entity under the banner of "the spirit of Vatican II" that alienated vast segments of the faithful.

Countless times throughout his career, he has squandered easy and painless opportunities to defend the Faith; instead, he has led clever attacks against Church teaching, some of which are on display in his "Unleash the Gospel" campaign underway now for 16 months. Simply put, there are too many contradictions between Vigneron's behavior and his carefully managed public persona not to raise serious questions about what side he is really on.

Cdl. John Dearden of Detroit

Is Allen Vigneron part of a network, akin to that of the Cambridge Spies, who penetrated the highest levels of Britain's intelligence agencies in the 1930s and '40s and did great damage to that country as spies for the Soviet Union well into the 1960s? Do he and some of his associates hold greater allegiance to an ideology that is antithetical to Christianity and Western traditions, which, in their mind, justifies and eases their consciences as they wreak havoc wherever they are able?

Before going further with this article, and to properly understand the Devil's Advocate's argument, attentive readers must read the whole of Catholic historian James Hitchcock's brilliant analysis of how a homosexual network developed within the Church at all levels after Vatican II and today "extends into the ranks of the episcopacy, [and] has significant influence on the life of the Church"

Hitchcock's article, "Secrecy and Subversion in the Church Has Historical Model" was published in Catholic World Report in 2002, seven months after the Boston Globe "Spotlight" series was published.

Hitchcock cites parallels between "deep intellectual confusion" in Britain in the 1930s and in the Catholic Church after Vatican II as destabilizing forces. In the Church, there was "a quarter century of intellectual and spiritual confusion which was especially acute among the clergy, and most especially among those clergy educated during the two chaotic post-conciliar decades."

Hitchcock explains that the Soviet Union recognized homosexuals as being extremely reliable and loyal allies to subvert the established order in Britain and the same has proven true in the Catholic Church.

In both of those eras, Hitchcock writes, key leaders were prone to questioning the received wisdom of their elders and prone to support "reform movements."

Hitchcock explains that the Soviet Union recognized homosexuals as being extremely reliable and loyal allies to subvert the established order in Britain, and the same has proven true in the Catholic Church. Homosexuals have been exceedingly loyal and successful in tearing down the established order everywhere they put their mind to it by virtue of a deep-seated commitment to their cause over the long-haul and deep loyalty to their comrades in arms.

Kim Philby

Much has been written about how the Soviet Union also recruited homosexuals and encouraged them to become Catholic seminarians in the U.S. and then spend decades rising within the episcopacy. Bella Dodd, a former communist, revealed this strategy in her book School of Darkness, and Alice von Hildebrand expanded on this situation in this Church Militant interview with Michael Voris.

Hundreds of books have been written about Philby and his group. Two excellent video resources to better understand how the group operated is the documentary The Spy Who Went Into the Cold (available on Netflix), which includes commentary by Philby's wife and long-time friends, and the five-part mini-series Cambridge Spies, produced by the BBC in 2003.

The key common bonds of the Cambridge Spies were:

  • All were friends and classmates at England's premier center of higher learning and social status, Cambridge University. Well-bred and well-educated on the fine points of "being British," all but one of them navigated easily after college — for decades — among the nation's most powerful and well-connected politicians and social figures and rose to prominence. One even worked, literally, in the household of Queen Elizabeth in the '50s, '60s and '70s, undetected as a spy committed to the ruination of Britain and of the monarchy.
  • The leader of the group, Kim Philby, became a top MI6 officer, rising high in the secret service while revealing secrets continually to the Soviet Union. He is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers in WWII and of dozens of British intelligence officers around the globe.
  • All of them hated some of the foundations of British culture; the rigid class system, dramatic privilege among upper classes amid poverty for lower classes. Today, they would certainly agree wholeheartedly with the ideology known in most American chanceries as "social justice."
  • They dreamed of a different kind of society, more egalitarian, and saw the ideals of Marxism more in line with their dreams. They were out-and-proud communists in college. Then, on the advice of their Soviet handlers, went underground by separating socially from their former communist friends then lived lives seemingly loyal to England.
  • Several were homosexuals.

Now, Advocatus Diaboli presents details of the case against Vigneron:

Vigneron was groomed for greatness in the Church under the watchful eye of Cdl. Dearden immediately after Vatican II. He was sent to Rome after graduation from Sacred Heart Seminary in 1970, along with classmates Patrick Halfpenny and John Nienstedt, two controversial figures with whom he remained close throughout his priestly career.

John Nienstedt, former archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis

By every measure, especially by those of his most fervent admirers in the priesthood, Dearden is probably the most radical and deceitful Catholic prelate to rise to prominence in the United States. In his roles both as archbishop of Detroit as well as the first president of the USCCB, he had, by his own admission, revolutionary designs for the Church on the local and national levels. He became the first president of the USCCB in 1966 and appointed known active homosexual Joseph Bernardin to the new position of secretary of the USCCB. A great deal has been written about Dearden and his role in turning the Church in American upside down.

Dearden named as his Detroit chief of staff 38-year-old Fr. Thomas Gumbleton and elevated him to the rank of auxiliary bishop the same year; he was the youngest to hold that office in the U.S. Gumbleton quickly became known as the most radical of American bishops and pushed hard to mainstream homosexuality throughout the AOD as well as nationally.

By early 1970s, all three seminaries in the archdiocese of Detroit (Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, SHS in Detroit and St. John's Provincial Seminary in Plymouth) were well into the process of systematically accepting and ordaining active homosexuals.

Notable is that 1970 is when notorious pederast Fr. Gerald Shirilla began his long teaching career at SHS, when his close friend, vacation partner and active homosexual Fr. Thaddeus Ozog was rector. At that time, incoming freshmen were stunned to see rampant homosexuality throughout the place among students, faculty and staff.

Fr. Gerald Shirilla

Dearden was so determined an advocate of a homosexual priesthood that, when St. John's Provincial Seminary Dean of Studies Fr. Alex Brunett complained to him in 1974 about the high number of seminarians who frequented gay bars and who were being ordained despite their active sexual activity, Dearden fired him. By then, the local Catholic faithful were becoming aware that St. John's was a "pink palace" run by a "lavender mafia."

In 1974, the agenda to establish a homosexual clergy for Detroit was formally and publicly established with the creation of Dignity/Detroit at Most Holy Trinity Church. Dignity/Detroit in 1996 credited its formation to the efforts of Fr. Francis Reiss, who was elevated to the rank of auxiliary bishop in 2003. Dignity/Detroit has held weekly Masses ever since — for 44 years — and its activities are not limited to liturgies.

Dearden revealed his across-the-board radicalism in 1976 at the first national Call to Action conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit, which laid out a radical blueprint for many changes in the Church, including on moral issues. That same year, Fr. Nienstedt was named secretary to Dearden. In 1979, when he was 32 years old, Nienstedt became vicar general, the highest ranking priest in the archdiocese.

There is little public evidence that Vigneron was not a willing participant in the whole of Dearden's dissident agenda while both a seminarian and priest during the Dearden era, in part because he was mostly unknown to the people of Detroit.

A fascinating source of information about Dearden and how he and his underlings operated is available at the website: John Clayton Nienstedt, Jr.: The (Un)Ma(s)king of an Archbishop. While the authors of the site are anonymous, the facts and chronology of events on this site are accurate. Many former and some current leaders in the archdiocese of Detroit are quoted regarding the overall agenda of Dearden. The site also mentions how various priests and bishops have been aligned in the AOD and nationally since Dearden came to Detroit.

There is little public evidence that Vigneron was not a willing participant in the whole of Dearden's dissident agenda while both a seminarian and priest during the Dearden era, in part because he was mostly unknown to the people of Detroit. According to Vigneron's biography on the AOD website, he left for Rome after college, then spent a total of about a dozen years studying in Rome and at the Catholic University of America during these years: 1971,'72, '73, '76, '79, '80, '81, '82, '83, '91, '92, '94. In the years '91–'94 he worked in the Vatican.

Call to Action, Detroit, 1976

He was ordained in 1975. In 1985, he became a professor at SHS.

Vigneron thrived throughout the Dearden era, which saw the ruination of the Church on almost every level, especially in the universities and diocesan schools. While Vigneron thrived, dozens of faithful priests in Detroit were crushed under the iron fist of the likes of Bp. Gumbleton, and many priests simply left the priesthood due to the abuse.

Countless men called to the priesthood went to other states; many others gave up on the idea.

Probably due to his delicate, soft-spoken manner, humorless persona and on-cue periodic declarations that to the untrained or inexperience ear sound like fidelity to the Church teaching, Vigneron is often depicted as a "conservative."

But a close look at Vigneron's administrative track record reveals that he may have quite a different agenda, much akin to the behavior of the Cambridge Spies. Although he does not speak with the same revolutionary fanaticism as, say, Bp. Gumbleton, much of the radical agenda instigated by Dearden — and despised by faithful Catholics, who seek an authentic faith — continues to advance up and down throughout the AOD.

Auxiliary Bp. Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit

Vigneron's treachery, which can only be described as a determined and deceitful effort to undermine the Church, was in full flower throughout the many years he spent as a professor (1985), dean (1988–1991) and president-rector (1994–2003) at his alma mater, SHS. Saint John's Major Seminary (which provided the last four years of formation before ordination) had been closed in 1988, so Vigneron, for more than a dozen years — even before he was named archbishop in 2007 — had extraordinary control over any and all who wanted to become a priest in the AOD.

The whole time Vigneron was in leadership roles at SHS, American conservatives complained that most seminaries in the U.S. were intentionally preventing admission of tradition-minded and faithful men and instead favored liberals and homosexuals. This was especially true in the AOD.

Countless articles were published in Catholic publications about the "gay priest problem." Perhaps the most damning documentation of Dearden's agenda, which spread nationally, was presented by liberal seminary rector Fr. Donald Cozzens in his book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood. Cozzens argued that the priesthood was becoming a "gay profession" and cited, in different lingo, the basic complaint of conservatives: Non-gay men in many seminaries felt "disoriented" at the dysfunction and thus left the seminary.

Today there is now hard evidence that Vigneron's old friend and classmate and colleague and boss, John Nienstedt, was a promiscuous homosexual during his years as a seminarian and priest in Rome. "Credible allegations" abound that Nienstedt continued his homosexual activity even as he was rector of SHS in Detroit. Vigneron served as Nienstedt's vice rector, for three years (1988–1991).

Many of the more profound accusations come from formal legal documents created a few years ago by chancery officials in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; they quote Abp. Harry J. Flynn, Nienstedt's predecessor in the Twin Cities, as opposing the appointment of Nienstedt to his archdiocese. An additional report was commissioned by a prominent Minneapolis law firm at a cost of more than $200,000, but it remains secret at the insistence of current St. Paul and Minneapolis Abp. Robert Hebda.

The report includes well-documented accusations from former seminarians in Detroit, some of whom have publicly accused Nienstedt of dismissing them from SHS after the young students refused his sexual advances.

Although there are no reports that Vigneron is personally either homosexual or trapped in related addictions, which is commendable, Advocatus Diablo's argument is he has been an accomplice to the shenanigans of officials in the seminary and chancery who are either homosexuals themselves or advancing that agenda.

Read Part II

Jay McNally is former editor-in-chief of The Michigan Catholic. He has written investigative reports for several national Catholic publications about the archdiocese of Detroit and offers a unique perspective on how operations and current practices will have little to no positive impact and are, in fact, a blueprint for more destruction of the Faith.


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