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

  • Mike

    Whoa! just a minute. What do you mean a public figure who has great authority like Pelosi’s speaking in a manner contrary to Catholic teaching in order to serve her political self-interests cannot be an indicator of her conscious? She is a public figure and if she says and does things contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church isn’t she acting in a scandalous manner? Leading souls astray? If I was a bishop I’d order priests not to give her communion until she repents.

  • Jack

    Since Bishop Gumbleton has admitted to having a ‘gay’ brother, his own judgement may be flawed on this matter. Some of his past actons would suggest that it is.

  • Daniel Peper

    Dr. Smith, I am pleased to hear that your father returned to receiving Holy Communion, after abstaining for many years due to failure to receive absolution in the Sacrament of Confession. It is a good thing that he assisted at Mass all that time. But do you really believe that he received more grace than he would have if he had received absolution and so been able to receive communion all those years?

    • Prof. Janet E. Smith

      THis reply should have gone here to Daniel: Of course not. I wish he would have received absolution and received the graces of the Eucharist. But he would not go to confession and because he respected the Church’s teaching on who is eligible to receive he did not receive communion. I think he received many graces for that fidelity. I think that is what I said.

  • Prof. Janet E. Smith

    Dear Greg, Keep in mind that same sex unions and same sex marriages are very different things. Some of those who promote same sex unions are really promoting unions for any two individuals (such as grandmother and granddaughter) that have no necessary implications of a sexual nature. Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me but it has been tossed around by some faithful Catholics as a kind of way to defuse the pressure for same sex marriages. I don’t know what Bergoglio had in mind nor do I know what Tom Crowe is promoting. But I doubt either one of them is/was promoting anything that suggests that homosexual acts are morally permissible.

    • Chuck

      “same sex unions and same sex marriages are very different things”. Sexual unions which are not marriage, be they homo- or hetero-sexual, are equally against the Church’s teachings. Anyone who publicly upholds same-sex-unions is just as in need of confession as those who publicly uphold same-sex-marriage, abortion, premarital sex, or contraception.

      • Prof. Janet E. Smith

        Chuck, If the unions legalize same sex sexual relations, they are wrong, but if they are simply contracts to share benefits, contracts extended to non sexual partnerships such as one between grandmother and granddaughter they are not the same thing as same sex marriages. I think that his what I said.

  • martin anthony

    Bergoglio also gave communion to Biden and Pelosi? No genuflection at his ‘mass’? Argue all you want. You don’t need a degree in this or thateology. Our Lady appeared many times mostly to poor even some somewhat stupid according to the world children. I don’t even have to know much about Her appearance at La Salette. But She’s a caring Mother who did warn us that “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the anti-christ.” Whether that’s an accomplished fact, or not yet, belief in ‘religious liberty’ will get one on the way to the same eternal conclusion of a miserable eternity. Religious liberty says one religion’s as good as another, and various shades of ‘Catholicism’ is fine too. But listen to how these various ‘beliefs’ swear by it .”God damn. Go to hell. Jesus Christ. Found in unlawful carnal knowledge,(the ‘f’ word). For Pete’s sake.” Etc. They all ‘have’ the same religion. They just don’t believe that Our Merciful Lord, still loves them while they’re numbing themselves ugly with greedy passing worldly accolades and pleasures, while He ,still, may be found.


      Dear Martin ~ I sometimes end up in the role of Miss Manners. here. It is customary to refer to the pope by his title. In this case “Pope Francis.”
      In discussing his life before election, we call him Cardinal, Archbishop , Bishop or Father Bergoglio. As catholics, we believe that the Pope is the successor to Peter and that ecumenism as proclaimed in the documents of Vatican II were a gift of the Holy Sprit. Also, if you are a Sedvacandist, I’m sure a lot of us will be happy to dialoge with you. ~ Pax tecum~ Greg


    Dear Professor Smith ~How about Tom Crowe or Archbishop Bergoglio who are Catholic public figures who have taken the position that a practical and pastorol solution is to agree to civil unions? Ought they, or I who holds a simmilar position, refrain from communion? ~ Pax tecum, Greg



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