Detroit Archbishop: Breaking Up Gay Relationships Is Like Moses Leading Hebrews Out of Egypt

Archbishop Allen Vigneron preaching at a recent ordination

Catholics protested a Michigan conference highlighting gay-negative views, including Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s suggestion that breaking up same-gender relationships is comparable to Moses leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt.

The conference was titled “Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction,” but there was little welcome from conference organizers Courage International, Our Sunday Visitor publishing company, academic Janet Smith, and the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Most troubling was Archbishop Vigneron’s homily at the closing Mass, during which he compared leading people out of same-gender relationships to Moses leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt.

Vigneron further claimed conference participants were subversive because they challenged the established gay-positive cultural norm, but they were not bigoted in their condemnation of same-gender relationships. He told those gathered they were neither “a bunch of Queen Victorians, “a bunch of blue-stockings,” nor “old-fashioned.”

This homily shows that the archbishop’s comment last week in which he stepped back from his 2013 suggestion that pro-marriage equality Catholics should not receive Communion is not the complete picture of his LGBT position.

Other conference moments included local celebrity priest Fr. John Riccardo stating that being gay is like jamming a bagel into one’s ear to make the point “that doesn’t go there.” Speaking of a gay member of his family, Riccardo advocated welcoming gay and lesbian people into one’s home so they can go “from not knowing Jesus to knowing Jesus.”

Organizer Janet Smith, a Catholic academic, previously defined the “gay lifestyle” as being marked by “promiscuity, anonymous sex, heartbreak, sexually transmitted diseases.” Additional speakers included psychologist Timothy Lock, professor Deborah Savage, and lesbian author Even Tushnet, reported Hometown Life.

Some two dozen LGBT Catholics and allies gathered peacefully outside the conference site for a prayer walk, critical of the views held by those inside who seek mandatory celibacy and even conversion therapy for lesbian and gay people.

Those walking in prayer included many parents involved with Fortunate Families and PFLAG, demanding respect for their children and a more inclusive church response. Noted advocates Linda Karle-Nelson and Tom Nelson helped organize the walk. Nelson told the Detroit Free Press:

“It’s medieval times all over again. . .If God created people gay, then gay sex seems to be a natural thing. . .[Church officials have] limited knowledge of human sexuality. . .they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Another protester, Jan Reynolds, a Catholic mother with a 24-year-old lesbian daughter and member of Fortunate Families, further critiqued church leaders in The Detroit News:

“I don’t want to have to leave the Catholic church, and I shouldn’t have to choose between my daughter and my god. . .I hope the leadership of the church open their minds and hearts and see these people are good people.”

Plymouth-Canton PFLAG president George Belvitch described his motivation for protesting the event:

“The message we want to convey is that our children and other children who are LGBT want to be part of the Catholic Church.We care about our church and we want our children to be a part of it. That want to participate.”

The loving criticisms of these faithful Catholic parents are comment enough on how devastating this conference is for the church an the world, but I want to highlight one more thing. Detroit experienced three violent crimes against trans* people in recent weeks, including two murders. These are tied to an uptick in LGBT hate crimes in the United States, a situation that requires the church to stand in solidarity with those suffering.

Instead or reacting to this terrible trend, Archbishop Vigneron welcomed some of the world’s leading anti-gay Catholic voices to his archdiocese and personally affirmed their views.  When will he and other church leaders host a conference on anti-LGBT hate crimes?

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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The Advocate, “LGBT-Supportive Catholics Protest Michigan Conference

18 replies
  1. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    There must be a way to notify the Vatican/Pope of such a violation of human person. Vigneron makes me want to lead LGBT Catholics to a new promised land – but they don’t seem to have such a land in this country!

  2. tom shea
    tom shea says:

    how can those who attended this conference in Detroit call themsekves followers of jesus. they are much closer to the farisees and other religious leaders in Jesus time!!!!!! may god forgive them.

  3. Joan O'Brien
    Joan O'Brien says:

    Joan O’Brien says: it seems that those “religious” leaders have the charity of the Inquisition in their words !
    What would Jesus say to them?

  4. Laurie Mayers
    Laurie Mayers says:

    Thank you for calling out the archbishop and conference for their false claims of welcoming LGBTQ people, when their real message is the same genital-obsessed condemnation of gay relationships they have been preaching since the days of Cardinal Ratzinger. Another disturbing development is that Courage says it will gather findings from the conference for the synod on the family this fall, while Catholic LGBTQ advocates have been shut out of participation.

    • Brian Kneeland
      Brian Kneeland says:

      Using statistics from only one side of an issue skews the results – as we know. BUT – it is more frightening to allow the other side to speak (ie. US) and say what family life is like for us!

  5. Rick Garcia
    Rick Garcia says:

    Thank you for shedding light on this conference and on the Archbishop’s unconscionable remarks. But I am interested in who are the participants? I attended a number of Courage meetings at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in the Archdiocese of New York with the founder of the group Oblate Father John Harvey. By and large I found a group of middle-aged conservative Catholic men who were deeply tormented by their sexual orientation. They had little to no self-esteem and because of that many found themselves in unhealthy behaviours. Unfortunately, they assumed that those unhealthy behaviours were due to their sexual orientation and the priests who led the group fed them that tripe. Worse, Courage has been used by the most virulent anti-gay prelates – deny lgbt people basic civil rights protections and then claim you are not anti-gay because “we have a ministry to the poor souls who suffer from same-sex attraction/addiction.” I don’t know what is more sad the clerics who are hateful and abuse use these people or the poor souls who are so self-loathing that they allow themselves to be used. But, I do know what is enraging. Those who use the name of Jesus and his Gospel to tear down, bear false witness against and disparage our LGBT brothers and sisters and their families. I recall that in the late seventies the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote that gay and lesbian people are “entitled to friendship, love and just”. What this antediluvian archbishop has pronounced, what the presenters at this conference proclaimed was neither friendly, loving or just. More to the point. They lie and they do harm to the people of God. But, only if we let them.

    • jono113
      jono113 says:

      I couldn’t say it better. I was a member of Dignity before Ratzinger destroyed it. We had the most inventive, faithful and fun liturgies with hymns sung gustily by a 125 proud gay men and women. I also had a brush with Courage and found that small band of married, closeted men absolutely sick.

      • newwaysministryblog
        newwaysministryblog says:

        Just a note, though perhaps some Dignity chapters have folded since the 1980s and many now worship off Catholic property, DignityUSA, and many local chapters still thrive and are vibrant.Ratzinger tried to destroy it, but did not succeed.

  6. Friends
    Friends says:

    I think it’s time to back up and ask ourselves a fundamental question: what REAL and EFFECTIVE POWER do these twisted characters like Vigneron and his misguided ilk have over us? If you are a baptized, confirmed and professing Catholic, the ONLY restriction that any priest or bishop can impose to you, at least relative to the Liturgy of the Mass, is to deny you participation in the reception of Communion. OK, fine…so just let them DENY you the right to participate in the Eucharist…and let this misguided action rest on THEIR conscience…not on yours. If you are a baptized, confirmed and professing Catholic, you have EVERY RIGHT to attend Mass in any Catholic church which you choose to attend. I believe we’ve been ascribing POWERS OF SOCIAL CONTROL to these misguided clerics — powers which they frankly DO NOT POSSESS in fact. They will answer for their intentions and actions. And you will answer for yours. On whose side do you think Jesus Himself would render a firm judgment concerning “the greater right” and “the greater good”, in regard to the reception of the Eucharist? Just some points to ponder, FWIW.

    • Brian Kneeland
      Brian Kneeland says:

      while I agree about refusing communion seems like all he can do – but there are those of us who have dedicated our lives to serving within the Church. We are no longer employable if we have married. That means a bunch too – stress in the very least. And since they do background checks those marriages show up. So now I can’t work in a Catholic institution and should not (but do) receive communion.

      • Jim Sheil
        Jim Sheil says:

        While I’m very sorry about how you are treated by the church, I’m glad you are receiving communion. I don’t see how he or anyone can refuse you communion. As the Gospel for the current Sunday’s says every one of us needs it.

  7. IrishConMan
    IrishConMan says:

    Thanks for this article and, especially, for the comments.

    I agree with Abp. Vigneron’s comments (as reported) and with the Catholic Catechism no. 2357. This article and the commentary constitute probably the most compact and transparent articulation I have seen of the views of those who disagree, and why they do.

    It is important to understand those who do not share our views. This article helps.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Archbishop Vigneron, a conservative bishop with an anti-LGBT record that includes remarks which compared breaking up a same-gender relationship to the Exodus liberation, seeking to deny Communion to […]

  2. […] Allen Vigneron of Detroit has compared breaking up same-gender relationships to the Exodus where Moses led the Hebrews to freedom. In […]

  3. […] Vigneron has said breaking up same-gender relationships is similar to Moses leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt, that Catholics supporting marriage […]

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