Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s suggestion that Catholics who support marriage equality in his diocese should not receive communion has sparked a protest led by Catholic parents of LGBT people.
“. . . supporters of gay Catholics gathered for a prayer vigil in front of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s chancery headquarters. . . .
“About 25 people sang, ‘All are welcome in this place,’ and marched with rainbow flags in front of the downtown chancery building, saying they had gay relatives and friends.
“Artemae Anderson, 69, of Detroit said she attends mass regularly, receives communion and supports gay marriage. ‘It’s very hurtful,’ Anderson said of Vigneron’s comments. ‘If we just follow the gospel message of Jesus, we’ll be OK.’ “
The demonstration was organized by Linda Karle-Nelson, president of Fortunate Families, a national network of Catholic parents of LGBT people, and her husband, Thomas Nelson. Another Free Press article quotes their thoughts on the protest:
“ ‘He’s [Vigneron] not going to keep me from the Eucharist,’ said Nelson, 83, a retired engineer from Farmington Hills. ‘Somebody’s got to stand up and say, “Enough.” ‘
“ ‘We’re not going to change churches,’ said [Linda] Karle-Nelson, 72, a speech pathologist. ‘We can plant seeds. Our theme has been sharing stories, and sharing stories is a way of changing hearts.’ ”
A local Catholic pastor noted the ridiculousness of Vigneron’s suggestion:
“The Rev. Norman Thomas, who is a pastor of Detroit parishes Sacred Heart and St. Elizabeth, said Vigneron’s statement ‘was kind of insensitive.’
“ ‘Are people expected to exempt themselves, or is there going to be a check-off right there at the (communion) line?’ Thomas said.”
The Huffington Post quoted one of the founders of Fortunate Families responding to protest:
“Mary Ellen Lopata, who is the co-founder and on the board of directors of Fortunate Families, said it’s a ‘sad situation’ that many children have left the Catholic church over its lack of acceptance of gays and lesbians.
” ‘We encourage people to speak up, because the bishops don’t know our children and they need to hear our children, and understand that our children are every bit as whole and holy,’ Lopata said.
” ‘We’re starting to see tiny glimmers of hope that pastors and members of the hierarchy might be willing to talk,’ Lopata said. ‘We do believe that if they would just talk to us and talk to children and listen to what they would have to say, their hearts would be changed.’ “
Parents of LGBT people are some of the strongest justice and equality advocates in the Catholic Church. They love both their children and the church, and they are not willing to let their be animosity between these groups. Catholic parents of LGBT people have had to go on a journey of understanding, acceptance, and love, and, as a result, they have a LOT that they can teach the rest of the church about understanding, accepting, and loving LGBT people.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
April 19, 2013: Bishop Gumbleton Preaches on Christ’s Radical Welcome for All