What a busy day! On Saturday, September 21, Detroit’s Archbishop Allen Vigneron led anti-abortion protesters in the rosary and in Eucharistic benediction, praised them for their defense of life, and helped to clear up media misunderstandings regarding Pope Francis’ recent remarks on abortion and gay marriage.
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The archbishop first celebrated Mass at 7:30 a.m. at Detroit’s Assumption Grotto church for the pro-life group Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. There, he told about 200 pro-life activists that they are among the “field hospital” to which Pope Francis had referred recently, when the Pope called on Catholics to be like doctors on a battlefield, treating spiritual wounds without passing judgment.
After Mass, Archbishop Vigneron led an 8:30 a.m. march from St. Veronica Catholic Church in Eastpointe to two abortion clinics on Eight Mile Road, one in Eastpointe and the other nearby in Detroit. The archbishop led the protestors in prayer for the unborn and their mothers, saying the rosary while standing on the median in front of each clinic. The group then returned to Assumption Grotto at 10:15 for a Eucharistic Holy Hour.
In an interview with Detroit Free Press staff writer Patricia Montemurri, the archbishop explained that Pope Francis’ comments published on Thursday “simply caught people’s attention in a new way.” The pope did not, Archbishop Vigneron insisted, change the Church’s teachings against abortion, gay marriage and other issues.
Acknowledging the controversy which had erupted following Pope Francis’ public remarks on Thursday, Archbishop Vigneron told reporters:
“What he’s caught people’s attention with is the Gospel truth. If he’s able to get through better with his style of presentation, I thank God for that.”
The Archbishop concurred with Pope Francis that we must speak the truth within the context of God’s mercy. He noted that Pope Francis’ views are shaped by his having heard a lot of confessions, and show the sensitivity of a pastor. “I have no doubt,” said Archbishop Vigneron, “that the Holy Father believes the doctrines of the church. I’m happy with his leadership.”
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Archbishop Vigneron defended his own comments made in April 2013, directing that Catholics in the archdiocese who dissent from Church teaching by their support for gay marriage should not present themselves for communion. The Catholic Church loves and welcomes gay people, he explained, but the Church says that homosexual behavior is “objectively disordered.” Archbishop Vigneron said that his comments were straightforward, not hurtful. “There’s nothing hurtful,” he said, “in telling people the truth.”
The Catholic Church’s constant teaching has been that marriage is between a man and a woman and has both a unitive and a procreative purpose. That is, marriage is a sacrament instituted by Christ, and is intended to deepen the love between a husband and wife and, through the marital embrace, to invite the spouses to share in God’s creative act of bringing new souls into being.
See the full interview here.