US: Catholics protest in Detroit against archbishop’s anti-gay stance

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

The Catholic archbishop of Detroit, in the US state of Michigan, has been subject to protests, as he recently proclaimed that supporters of equal marriage should not take communion.

Around 20 people marched and prayed outside the archdiocese of Detroit’s Chancery building, protesting the comments by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, and demanding that the church change its views against homosexuality.

Joining the protest were a couple from Farmington Hills, Tom Nelson and Linda Karle-Nelson, who were both widowed, and the parents of a gay child, wed in 2006, after meeting through an organisation supporting the families of LGBT people.

Karle-Nelson, who is active in Fortunate Families, a group for Catholic parents of LGBT children, said: “We’re trying to make a stand for equality.”

The protesters held up signs emblazoned with messages such as “God created our kids gay,” and the demonstrators sang the hymn “All Are Welcome”, in front of the building.

They also went on to pray: “Our hearts are heavy as some people attempt to exclude from Your family our daughters and sons, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. We are pained by the brokenness in Your family.”

Another couple from Detroit, Paul and Dorothy Sullivan, attended because, Paul said: “Both my wife and I feel that discrimination of any kind is not moral or Christian,”

Another attendee, Linda Tomala, told The Detroit News: “When you hear many of the comments from the hierarchy of the church, you wonder what Jesus would be saying about all of this,” she said. “I have a strong faith in a loving God, and if you’re going to love one, you’re going to love all.”

On Thursday, the archdiocese responded, through communications director Ned McGrath. The statement said: “The Church deeply deplores discrimination … the Church has no ambiguity about the meaning of marriage. It defines marriage as a sacramental union between a man and woman, a covenant of life and love intended to last forever.

“It is for these reasons the Church does not support a redefinition of marriage. In this context, the archbishop’s remarks were not anti-anyone,” it continued.

Representing the opposing viewpoint, the American Family Association of Michigan approached Archbishop Vigneron to ask him to ban homosexual groups from using Catholic college facilities, after an LGBT-friendly service was scheduled at Marygrove College’s Sacred Heart Chapel.

Ned McGrath said: “There are hundreds of masses celebrated in the Detroit archdiocese every weekend. It’s always Vigneron’s expectation that these liturgies are conducted in full conformity with the Catholic Church’s teachings and practices.”

Sunday’s inclusive service is expected to go ahead, said DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke. She said: “We believe there’s room in our church for everybody. We can disagree on these issues and still worship together in peace. It’s tragic that some folks would choose to disrupt our right to practice our faith.”

A Catholic priest in the Australian Capital Canberra, this week departed from the official teachings of the church to say that committed same-sex relationships should be celebrated.

A Catholic priest in Brazil was recently excommunicated after he publicly resigned in protest against the church’s opposition to gay rights.

Meanwhile, a Catholic priest in Argentina was expelled from the church following an investigation after he voiced his support for equal marriage in the country.

The investigation into the priest, Jose Nicholas Alessio, was previously led by the new Pope, Francis, then known as Jorge Bergoglio, and then archbishop of Buenos Aires.

At a gig in Detroit at the end of March, rock band Garbage stopped their show to invite two fans up on stage, when one talks about how he knew they were meant to be together, before proposing to his boyfriend. 

A new project was recently launched in the US, in an attempt to end homophobia in the Christian church, to reform Christian teachings on homosexuality, and to give gay Christians a voice in the church.