In the latest salvo fired by the Catholic Church in its worldwide crusade against LGBT rights and marriage equality, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said yesterday that pro-equality Catholics should not receive Communion and claimed that those who choose to do so essentially perjure themselves before God. USA Today reports:
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.”
The Detroit Free Press also notes that another prominent Detroit-area Catholic – Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary – made similar comments in a March 27 blog post:
Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, “Catholics who promote ‘same-sex marriage’ act contrary to” Catholic law “and should not approach for holy Communion,” he wrote. “They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them … being rebuked and/or being sanctioned.”
Peters didn’t specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person’s “public efforts to change society’s definition of marriage … amount to committing objectively wrong actions.”
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Peters as a legal advisor to the Apostolic Signatura, known colloquially as the Vatican’s Supreme Court. According to Jeremy Hooper of Good As You, marriage discrimination runs in Edward Peters’ family: his son Thomas is the communications director for the National Organization for Marriage, which fights to preserve an exclusionary definition of marriage across the country.
Of course, this latest attempt to use the Eucharist — which is sacred to Catholics — as a weapon of punishment against marriage equality supporters is utterly repugnant and deserves to be widely condemned. But it’s definitely not the first time Catholic leaders have singled them out in this way. The Archbishops of Newark and San Francisco have made similar statements advising gay and lesbian Catholics and their pro-equality allies not to take Communion at Mass. Bishops in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Springfield, Illinois warned Catholics before the November election that voting for candidates that opposed the church’s positions on marriage equality and reproductive choice would jeopardize a Catholic’s eternal salvation. And Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt even told the mother of a gay child — who wrote to him pleading for acceptance for her son — that she “ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church” unless she renounced her pro-equality views and that her “eternal salvation may well depend upon” her ability to accept the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings.
When considered alongside such a reprehensible track record, these statements from Archbishop Vigneron and Edward Peters prove once again that the Catholic Church has made homophobic bigotry and the spiritual bullying of LGBT people and their allies a top priority. In my view, it’s utterly monstrous.