Bishop Gumbleton Misrepresents Archbishop Vigneron on Who Should Receive Communion


Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Gumbleton may be less at odds than Bishop Gumbleton seems to think.  Vigneron’s statements that some individuals should not present themselves for Communion referred to those who publicly advocate for such things as same sex marriages, or any other serious matter, such as the legalization of abortion, not to the private individual who struggles with these matters in his or her conscience, as Gumbleton seems to have in mind.

Congressman Pelosi is an excellent example of a public figure who advocates for positions seriously in conflict with Church teaching. Were the Church to forbid her communion, that would not be a punitive act, though she and others may perceive it that way.  Archbishop Vigneron forbade communion to no one.  What he requested was that Catholics who behave as Pelosi does, not present themselves for communion.  He is calling Pelosi and others to take their faith seriously and to form their consciences in accord with Church teaching.  Undoubtedly Vigneron would agree that no one can know the state of Pelosi’s conscience.  Only God can. But it is Vigneron’s responsibility to ensure that the Catholic faithful are not mislead by the actions of prominent Catholics and thus he is correct to instruct them about the wrongness of Pelosi’s positions and how her objective actions are ones that compromise her eligibility to receive Communion.  Moreover, if in fact, she is culpable for not having formed her conscience correctly, reception of the Eucharist brings her no benefit and some harm, for unworthy reception of the Eucharist is in itself a serious sin.

The eighty-year old couple mentioned by Bishop Gumbleton who have a gay son is another case entirely.  Ties of affection such as theirs can easily cloud one’s judgment.  If they are struggling to accept Church teaching (as Gumbleton suggests) they may not be subjectively guilty for their failure to accept Church teaching.  Nonetheless, even for them Vigneron’s remarks should be helpful. Any Catholic who struggles to accept Church teaching on such clear issues as the impossibility of same sex marriages or of the immorality of abortion, should be striving prayerfully to accept that teaching. Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church on matters of faith and morals.  Catholics should experience great interior turmoil when their views conflict with Church teaching.  They need to pray about their eligibility to receive Communion and keep asking God to enlighten their intellects so that they can accept Church teaching.  The fact that the couple wept because they worry about their eligibility to receive Communion indicates a great love for the Eucharist and, one hopes, for the Church as well.  If they were to understand the Church’s teaching fully, they would experience much peace about how much God loves them and their son, and they could receive the Eucharist without hesitation.

My own Catholic father did not accept the Church’s teaching on the need to go to confession.  Since he knew this conflicted with Church teaching, he did not receive the Eucharist for many decades although he faithfully attended Sunday liturgy and occasionally daily mass as well.  For those long years, I prayed for him and counseled him about the Church’s teaching and finally he returned to confession and Communion.  The fact that he abided by Church teaching in respect to eligibility for receiving Communion was extremely impressive to me. I believe he received powerful graces from that fidelity. Had he received Communion without going to confession, I don’t know how efficacious the graces of the Eucharist would have been or whether he would ever have reconciled himself to confession – and been able to enjoy the powerful graces of that sacrament.

I will pray for Bishop Gumbleton that he help the eighty-year old parents understand the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and the Church’s teaching on worthy reception of the Eucharist. And I pray that they will be able to return to Communion, joyfully praising the Lord, the Church, and Archbishop Vigneron.


Categories:Marriage Politics Pro-Life

  • Prof Janet E. Smith

    In 2007, Pope Francis presented Aparecida to Pope Benedict on behalf of the church leaders of Latin America, which stated: “We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility. Hence, in response to government laws and provisions that are unjust in the light of faith and reason, conscientious objection should be encouraged. We must adhere to “eucharistic
    coherence,” that is, be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion,
    euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This
    responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.” (436)

  • TJM

    Ah, old hereterodox Gumbleton is still at it. Pathetic

  • Prof. Janet E. Smith

    Love is not just a feeling and it is not the same as compassion — a feeling that participates in the suffering of another. To love someone is to will and work for what is best for another. Certainly those who are confused about Church teaching and those who are wounded in their being (all of us) should be treated with compassion and love — but love requires that we attempt to help them understand the truth and to live in accord with it. The Eucharist is a celebration of the Truth that made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. We need to work to be as worthy as we can to receive that sacrifice. It is also a sacrament celebrating real unity of belief and commitment, not the apparent unity of wanting to receive the Eucharist.

  • Dave Theisen

    Pray that Bishop Gumbleton doesn’t still believe what he said in 2002, “ . . . somewhat surprisingly, they make love more humanely, largely because they are better able empathetically to feel what their partner is feeling. New Ways Conference

  • Andrew Langlànds

    As a Catholic and someone who believes in “the new commandment” of Christ, I believe its in our best interest to show love in this and all situations. I agree with the writer that it is up to each of us, public or private citizens, to practice the sacraments properly, but to love one another and to welcome the sinner as Christ did is more in line with the doctrine of faith we try to practice than what is currently being represented in the discussion on this subject. How does this statement show love to those who are struggling? How can the imperfections in any of us be greater than the love God shows in the sacrifice of his only Son present in the Eucharist? I believe the Archbishop shows great understanding of the doctrine on the reception of the Eucharist, but I struggle with the way it conflicts with my personal view on loving the sinner but hating the sin. I also see that the new Pope has a great deal of love for the sinner, the poor, and the marginalized. I wonder how all of these statements compare to the actions of love and forgiveness shown by a holy person to a society starved for love? The statements seem small when compared to great action by the holy Father. More action and less statements would be a breath of fresh air. All if the theology in the world does less than 1 act of love and mercy does in this debate.

    • Dan

      Your view of “loving the sinner and hating the sin” isn’t really “your” view; it’s the Church’s as well. If one hates the sin, one must encourage our brethren to repent of it-no matter the sin.
      It is incongruent to approach the altar for the Sacrament administered by the Church whose teachings one sees fit to publicly oppose.

    • Dave Theisen

      Dear Andrew, You may not know of “Courage”; this is a Catholic organization that kindly helps those struggling with same sex attractions to find chastity.

  • Dan

    Good post. Bp. Gumbleton did indeed conflate Vigneron’s position. Gumbleton, given the description of him in the article linked, probably enjoyed the attention given to him so much that he didn’t take time to read Vigneron’s statement carefully.



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