Catholic and Support Gay Marriage? No Communion for You!

The leader of the Detroit Archdiocese has said that if Catholic congregants support same-sex marriage they should be denied Communion, and he’s not alone in that thinking.

The Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron on Sunday told the Detroit Free Press that he agrees with a senior Catholic lawyer that those who support same-sex marriage should be denied Communion. Vigneron reportedly told the Free Press:

“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.”

For a number of years now, senior Catholic figures have threatened public officials, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, with a denial of Communion over issues like pro-choice reforms, and now increasingly, this is applied to the issue of same-sex marriage.

Vigneron’s comments chase those of Edward Peters, a lawyer and adviser to the Vatican who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and who, in a blog post last month, wrote:

“The Catholic Church teaches, through its ordinary magisterium and with infallible certainty, that marriage exists only between one man and one woman [...] Catholics who promote “same-sex marriage” act contrary to Canon 209 § 1 and should not approach for holy Communion per Canon 916. Depending on the facts of the case, they also risk having holy Communion withheld from them under Canon 915, being rebuked under Canon 1339 § 2, and/or being sanctioned under Canon 1369 for gravely injuring good morals.”

Peters goes on to say those engaging in a same-sex marriage or those who have helped facilitate a same-sex marriage could also be barred from Communion.

Whether as damage control or an empty attempt to answer criticism, the diocese’s spokesperson, Joe Kohn, issued the following statement on Monday:

The archbishop’s focal point here is not “gay marriage”; it is a Catholic’s reception of Holy Communion. If a Catholic publicly opposes the church on a serious matter of the church’s teaching, any serious matter — for example, whether it be a rejection of the divinity of Christ, racist beliefs, support for abortion or support for redefining marriage — that would contradict the public affirmation they would make of the church’s beliefs by receiving Communion.

As the archbishop states, the pastors of the church are ready to assist Catholics to help them understand and avoid this conflict.

Vigneron called Catholics supporting same-sex marriage tantamount to perjury. You don’t get to throw around words like that and then pretend, as Kohn does above, that there’s no argument to be fought.

Now an initial reaction to this might be that the position, while odious, is perfectly within the realm of religious freedom of expression and that the church can define its own rules however it sees fit. Fine. Move on. Except that while in some circumstances that is true, there’s a problem here, isn’t there?

Increasingly, a majority of Catholic congregants support, if not same-sex marriage in the religious sense, marriage equality in the secular and legal sense. A recent poll says that support has now surpassed the majority mark at 54%. When asked about this, they often cite their religious beliefs. An example would be the aforementioned Nancy Pelosi, who has said her faith and her self-avowed relationship with God compels her to oppose discrimination.

So what of a religious right to express that aspect of one’s faith by supporting same-sex marriage?

Well, it seems the Catholic church is dealing with this by defining those people out of being Catholic and denying them Holy Communion, a key pillar for Catholic identity.

Technically the church can do whatever it wants in that regard, but one thing is certain. With positions like this, the church could shed support in swathes and elegantly marginalize itself in only a matter of decades because what the church thinks it means to be Catholic really doesn’t seem to be what its congregants think Catholicism is, and this is a possibly fatal disconnect.

In the short term at least, it makes the church’s staunch cries about how we must protect religious rights and rally against marriage equality sound even more hollow.


Related Reading:

Students Suspended From Catholic School For Pro-Choice Activism

Catholic Church Dumps Another Charity For LGBT Support

Catholic Hospital Denies Gay Man HIV Medicine

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Edytheortega E.
Past Member 4 years ago

It’s really very informative that I wanted ever, thanks for this.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

There are lots of other religions, so I guess these people can go to one of them. But... the Catholic church will lose a bunch of people and their money. Hummm...

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

Can the papists really afford the exodus of many, many members? After the (continous?) scandals with priests raping little boys and girls all over the world, can they really handle another crisis with members turning away from their church? And how does it sit with ordinary members, knowing those paedophiles kept their jobs, right to communion and their pensions after even the former pope knew about their heinous crimes? The catholic church is the wealthiest institution in the world. That won't help them when the world passes them by and progresses into a more equal place. France and Spain have same gender marriage equality. Two very much catholic countries. Others will follow, it's just a matter of time.
Today, New Zealand became number 13, a lucky number for the LGBT community of NZ. Soon, there will be a majority of democratic countries with the same eqaul marriage rights and the Vatican will be transformed into the lone voice in the desert; No one to preach to! I hope I will be here to see that day!

Carol R.
Carol R4 years ago

*sigh* I guess if you do not agree with the churches stance you can always change religions. After all we live i a country where we can do just that!

Jennifer L.
Jennifer L4 years ago

Are they going to start denying people who eat shrimp and lobster communion, too? There are plenty of other things god hates listed in the bible as well, but for some reason those are ignored............

Robynne W.
Robynne W4 years ago

@William T...why don't you write for them then - instead of just complaining?

E. J.
Past Member 4 years ago

Completely understandable. Remember that the country immigrants want most to immigrate to IS BASED ON WESTERN EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION BASED ON THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE. Don't knock it too much, you can always live in China!

William T.
William T.4 years ago

More Catholic bashing. Care2 is becoming boring and predictable.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

thanks for sharing