Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Detroit's Archbishop Vigneron Warns Laity And Clergy About 2011 American Catholic Council

No matter how decked out the bus, the back seat of the bus is still the back seat.

While getting my daily dose of Redwing hockey from the Detroit Free Press, I came across the following.

Archdiocese of Detroit: Stay away from liberal Catholic conference
By Niraj Warikoo - FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER -10/13/2010

Archdiocese of Detroit is warning Catholics in metro Detroit — including priests and ministers — to stay away from a national conference of liberal Catholics to be held in Detroit next year. And Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron is calling upon organizers of the conference to cancel their plans, saying they are in opposition to the Catholic faith.

The American Catholic Council, which calls for church reforms and greater openness, is set to hold a national gathering in June 2011 featuring progressive Catholic leaders near the 35th anniversary of the ‘Call to Action,’ a Detroit gathering in 1976 that urged reform and was held by the late Cardinal John Dearden of Detroit.

The liberal group claims there is too much secrecy and hierarchy in the Church; it also calls for greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, and women in leadership roles. It wants women and married priests.

“Serious sexual and financial abuses have resulted,” from problems in the Catholic Church, the group says in a newsletter.

Their conference next year is to feature a range of Catholic speakers who have been critical of the Vatican, including controversial Swiss priest Hans Kung. The liberal group says its efforts are done in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, whose 50th anniversary is also next year.

But in a statement released Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Detroit slammed the American Catholic Council, saying “the goals proposed are largely in opposition to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”

The Archdiocese, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics, says that some of the scheduled speakers at next year’s conference “espouse positions which are clearly contrary to Catholic faith.” (Views contrary to Catholic doctrine is more correct.)

“The Archdiocese of Detroit cautions any Catholic against participating in the American Catholic Council local listening sessions and national gathering in June 2011,” the archdiocese said in its statement. “Catholic parishes, schools, and institutions are not to host any meetings, gatherings, or listening sessions associated with the planning of the June 2011 American Catholic Council. Priests, deacons, and ecclesial lay ministers will want to avoid lending support to such a misguided effort.”

Archbishop Vigneron said “this national gathering…distorts the true Spirit of Vatican II.” ( The non distorted view of Vatican II is to pretend it never happened.)

Vigneron “asks us all to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may embrace authentic development of faith and morals, and shun efforts which threaten unity,” the statement said. (There is no point in praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit because leadership like Vigneron doesn't believe anything needs updating or reforming or guiding.)

A spokesman for the American Catholic Council was not available to comment Tuesday, but their website says the conference is set for June 10 to 12, Pentecost weekend. The group says on its website it wants to “celebrate the ideas of Vatican II.”


I wondered when the assault on this gathering was going to start.  Archbishop Vigneron is the logical choice to lob the first salvo, since it's going to happen in his Archdiocese.  I'm sure he sees it as a potentially large black mark on his otherwise spotless conservative record and the red hat is so close to his hands he can't be having any black marks.  In fact I keep wanting to type 'Cardinal' Vigneron.

Archbishop Vigneron is a bishop in the Raymond Burke, Thomas Olmstead, and Charles Chaput school of pastoral approach.  Don't be shocked if all of these men eventually sport red hats.  This is great if you are a very conservative Catholic who is terrified of Satan, terrified of going to hell for all eternity, and really believe obeying every utterance of the Vatican is paramount to your salvation.  This is not so great if you think love actually has something to do with what Christ taught.  If Jesus had truly believed obedience to authority was paramount for our salvation He would have become a Temple rabbi, a committed Pharisee, and one in love with the size of His phylactery. He would not have become their chief critic and Temple cleanser or taught love in terms of relating to people and not things.  Things like red hats.

One of the attitudes which irritates me no end about these conservative bishops is their constant appeals to the Holy Spirit.  For what are they appealing?  That the Holy Spirit will come down and burn every single non compliant thought out of our heads?  This is not about guidance from the Holy Spirit so much as it is about petitioning God to instill a form of institutional slavery.

I'll be the first to admit this intellectual slavery to the Vatican has resulted in fame and fortune for the above mentioned boyos.  The problem is that they expect me, a woman, to follow their path when their path leads exactly no where for me.  I get to play the Rosa Parks back seat of the bus role in Burke's and Vigneron's Catholicism.  I fully understand that is a very needed role if Vigneron's concept of hierarchical order is to have any meaning. Hierarchy by definition needs people forced to the back of the bus.  It's how the Vigneron's of the world know they have achieved the front seat, right behind Bennedict the bus driver. Vigneron also knows, by following this exact path, Benedict got to be the bus driver. Why not him? 

The one glaring aspect this path fails to compute is how many people this bus runs over and has run over. Those victims are legion in the long history of Catholicism and more are being created now.  I wish the Holy Spirit would enlighten the Vigneron type Catholics about the victims this bus of theirs creates. For instance, the kinds of victims this clerical bus ran over in the mad notion of saving their church from the scandals they created. 

I wish the Holy Spirit would guide all laity to the understanding that the Church Vigneron and his like minded bishops are defending is in these bishops minds, their church, and they are not saving it for the laity.  They are saving it for themselves.  It's their bus.  They get the front seats and elect the driver.  The rest of us are only along for the ride if they permit us and we pay their price.  The American Catholic Conference is being called to directly challenge the validity of the Catholic bus route to heaven being solely owned, operated, routed and driven by the self chosen.  No wonder Archbishop Vigneron is not enthused.


  1. Unwittingly they have elevated their opponents and advertised the gathering!

    Way to go, Holy Spirit! :-)

  2. Vigneron is a careerist, like most of the American hierarchy. Most of the Vatican II bishops are dead or retired, and the current crop indeed wants to pretend Vatican II never happened. The local Catholic diocesan paper featured a story at a press/clergy conference in which Chaput took the secular press to task for being unduly harsh on the institutional church. What Chaput really meant was that he was upset that he could not control the secular press's coverage the way he does the coverage in Catholic News Service (aka the Chaput News Service.)

  3. How well I remember it all from grade school: don't read this book, don't see that film, it will endanger your faith!
    There was also that dire warning in the Catholic paper: Beware of Feeneyites!
    Feeneyites, it seems, were "followers of the excommunicated Father Feeney." They were calling themselves Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and were going door to door. To what end, was not made clear. Converting people to Feeneyism? Demanding contributions? (Probably.) And how did they pick what doors to knock on?
    Whatever, I never saw a Feeneyite.

  4. Vigneron and the others of his ilk are projecting their lack of faith into the laity and priests that are running this conference. I was alive during Vatican II and its tenets were certainly to open the Church in this matter for full clerical and laity participation.

    When Vigneron and his ilk call on others to pray to the Holy Spirit, what he is forgetting is that others do pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. It is this type of JP II bishop that is closing the windows of the Church opened by the Saintly John XXIII. I have heard say that one of the most serious sins we could commit is to not listen to and evaluate what the Holy Spirit is telling us. This Ilk of Bishops only believes that the Holy Spirit will speak to the Episcopacy! No, she speaks to us all especially those that are disciplined enough to look for truth. She speaks to us every day in Novels, through scientific, theological and philosophical theories and new myths.

    It is these Bishops who are not listening and their sins are indeed very grave. TheraP, I think you are correct, this type of publicity will probably cause this gathering to be even more successful as the creditability of these Bishops is so frail.

    I also think there is a definite possibility that they will strike out at some the speakers and attendees with there terrible punishment of excommunication. I think it is time for other Bishops, and theologians (at Major Catholic Universities) to stand up with the People of God pronouncing the excommunication's null and void, but also suggesting that this type of leadership serves to Excommunicate itself and can not be followed by struggling and thinking people. dennis

  5. I am so proud to be at the big kids' table here.

    You don't have to look far in the literature of "formation of conscience" to find the key concept:

    "We believe that knowing what God has established for the fulfilment of man is a freeing principle, not a principle of enslavement. The more we know about God’s will for us, the more fulfilled we are, the surer we are that we will not destroy ourselves and wander into paths which will not enhance our liberty but take it away entirely. "The truth will make you free" (Jn. 8:32; Ps. 1)."

    * Canadian Catholic Conference, 1973

    He should attend the conference and engage the people who are the Church.

    What a cowardly man.

    My first urge on reading Colleen, TheraP, Khughes, Translynx and Dennis was to buy you all a drink. It is an Irish thing, a round on me.

    I might just go to that council. The link for the organization is:



  6. All the dear Archbishop would have to do--and this goes for any other Ordinary--is to hold REGULAR and truly OPEN diocesan synods. Give the People of God a legitimate opportunity to speak to each other, to learn from each other, to communicate with their leadership, and you wouldn't have to worry about this. Those sorts of structures were anticipated by Vatican II and I believe they are also in Canon Law, but the hierarchs are scared shitless of them (Excuse the french, but I think it is a literalism, not hyperbole!)

  7. "animamo"

    popped up when I entered my last comment. I read it, as a bad student of latin, 40 years removed from instruction, as "anima amo"

    The "anima", as I recall, refers to the living being, more specifically the inner-self or soul. And of course my mind read "amo" as the root word of love.

    It is a stretch. I'm probably projecting.

    But it did cause me to look at the Council's website a bit more. There's a very interesting organization mentioned on the "Links" page:

    Elephants in the Living Room: "Elephants is an organization of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit, strongly supported by participating laity, who seek renewal of the Church of Detroit. We do this by offering opportunities for education and creating an open forum for discussion and dialog that will lead to developing and advocating more collegial solutions to the challenges we face. We firmly believe these efforts will contribute to greater solidarity among priests and a renewed Church of Detroit."

    What is Vigneron's motivation? Does he fear mutiny?


  8. Kevin57,

    Have a beer. Great comment. Yes there should be regular consultation and participation

    "Scared shitless" is a great way to describe it.



  9. Speaking from the back of the bus, What's happened to Benedict's big push for a new evangelization? Sounds like the same ole stuff! Would these archdiocesan folks consider addressing the 130,000 former Catholics, that's one in ten of the 1.3 million Catholics? Are these folks already subtracted from the 1.3 million? In any case, I don't see much hope for Benedict's new evangelization or the hierarchs of Detroit!

    I'm marking my calendar for June 2011 to be in Detroit. Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Thanks for the round, p2p! And "kids table" is just a great description! After all we're all God's children. And the children are rising up!

    I would love to go to Detroit next June. I've got relatives in the area there. Yes, let the People of God assemble in Detroit. It would even help the economy there, while giving a powerful demonstration of people moved by the Spirit!

  11. Thanks p2p. Vigneron and the other careerists are scared to death the laity might start flexing their financial muscle and they depend heavily on the laity not doing it.

  12. I would dearly love to go to Detroit myself in June, especially if a certain hockey team was playing for a certain trophy. But this conference might be OK too.

    I just laughed about the 'big kids' table. I can remember knowing just how big a deal that was to get to sit at the big kids table back in the day of huge family gatherings. Which for me, actually were in Detroit.

    Therap I agree whole heartedly that Vigneron has given this conference a big boost Stateside. For some reason it's been getting more play outside the States. Glad to see Detroit's archbishop is remedying that problem.

  13. EWTN radio played this up twice today (once on my way to lunch, once on my way home). P2p, I had the same reaction you did. The leader of the Catholics in that area should ask to attend, give his corrections, help lead us to faith. The churches should hold listening sessions, if that's what an unknowing people need. Instead, he gives it the old "they're not the right people...we must shun them" routine. No gonadal fortitude at all, I say in a non sexist manner. What did Jesus do?

    I have friends going to this, and we may need to go too. What a joy it would be to give each of you a hug.

    Going to get my beer now. Thanks.

  14. mjc,it would be great fun to all meet in Detroit and drink on p2p. I have a sneaking suspicion that this let get together might actually be the start of something big. They have a good website and are partnered with all the progressive groups.

    The Elephant in the Living Room site is kind of mind blowing.
    I thought the Irish priests organizing this summer was positive, but this group in Michigan is quite a bit bigger and has truly provided a progressive voice in Vigneron's diocese.

    Maybe underneath all the rightwing shouting things really are starting to move.

  15. I'll see what I can do to visit Detroit for the conference. And I will buy the table a round of whatever beverage you like. If Greektown is still as good as it was then I'm having wine. Since Colleen's a Red Wings fan I'm ordering calamari too.

    On the way home this evening I listened to a CBC radio interview with Freeman Patterson, a photographer I've admired for at least 30 years. I was pleasantly surprised to hear he had attended a seminary (not Catholic) and studied "practical ministry". That's when he took up photography as an expression of theology. He said all photographs are an expression of the person as much as they are of the subject.

    Here's his website. I think you'll love the picture on the first page.

    The CBC interview "Shamper's Bluff" should be available by podcast through this page later today:


  16. How truly stupid these men are. They learn nothing from history it seems. To "protect" the community from wrong thinking only entices them to seek it. Ask any child who is denied without reason.

    In the end, they will lose as do all those who seek to suppress both knowledge and the Spirit.

  17. Oh, I love calamari!!! ;)

    All of this reminds me of that Parish out in CO that Colleen wrote about a while back. Where they instituted democracy.

    It also makes me think of that elderly Jesuit in Egypt - who had such wonderful ideas for the church and is praying for a new Pentecost. I hope he comes!

    Very hopeful developments. Especially the fact that criticism of this event will only draw attention to it and elevate it in importance.


  18. This is from the website of The American Catholic Council, among other things they list as a "deterioration in the life of the Catholic Church":

    Catholics abandoning the Church with demoralizing frequency.

    Now... I must admit I have serious reservations about how they worded this. For it assumes that the RCC is the "church entire" - and it assumes that when people abandon attending the RCC, they have thereby abandoned "the Church" - thus again, presuming that "the church" means only and ever the RCC.

    Now I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Because perhaps whoever wrote up that one item in the list may not completely have thought through the meaning of people "leaving" as perhaps people finding a deeper way to unite with the Church.

    I can well understand that some in the RCC may feel demoralized because I concluded it was better for me to seek pastoral care and liturgical fulfillment within Orthodoxy. But that would be like saying to an abused spouse to stick it out or I'll be demoralized somehow in my own life.

    I'd be interested in how others view this. But boy... I am so glad to be a parish where prayer is evident, where there is pastoral care, where democracy is in evidence at the parish level and within the diocese and the national level too. Many, many other positives.

    But for sure, I am not "outside" The Church!!! Indeed, the Orthodox have, in my view, a much better theology of ecclesiology etc. than you find in the RCC.

    The Church is ONE. We may see fragmentation with our human eyes. But for God, the Body of Christ is not something which is exclusive = as the RCC has traditionally held. (I hope this ACC group doesn't see it that way... And I bet most who post here do see what I'm getting at.)

  19. Archbishop Vigneron is a blessing to our community. After meeting him, hearing him speak and participating in Holy Mass with him, it is clear that he is devoted to God and delivering the Truth. I find these negative comments against him deceiving and disheartening. Mary, Mother of Jesus, pray for us.

  20. The Archbishop maybe a blessing to some in the community, but he is also not a blessing to many others. What many of the comments suggested here was that he consider actually dialoguing with the people for whom he is not a blessing and that includes many of his priests.