DETROIT, April 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A retired auxiliary bishop in Detroit has publicly rebuked his archbishop, urging Catholics who support same-sex “marriage” to continue receiving Communion.

Four days after Archbishop Allen Vigneron told the faithful that Catholics who back same-sex “marriage” should stop receiving Communion, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton went to the press to lodge his opposition. "Don't stop going to communion.  You're okay," he told Fox News.

Gumbleton, 83, made a name for himself as an opponent of Church teaching in his nearly forty years as a Detroit auxiliary bishop from 1968 to 2006, and is known particularly for his opposition to Church teaching on homosexuality. He is a supporter of the dissident group New Ways Ministry and a frequent speaker at Call to Action conferences.

His April 11th comments to Fox News followed remarks by Vigneron on April 7th that were reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Amidst debate over same-sex “marriage” stemming from the Supreme Court hearings on the issue, Archbishop Vigneron had emphasized the Church’s teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman and that to receive Communion one must be committed to Church teaching on fundamental moral issues.

“For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: ‘I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches,’” Vigneron said. “In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.”

But according to Bishop Gumbleton, such an approach is not “pastoral.” "If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you're trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves," said Gumbleton.

"Their conscience is the ultimate voice they have to follow," he added.  "A person coming up to communion has a right to make their own decision about am I in a state of grace? Am I ready to receive?  Well, that's for the person to decide not for the minister or not for any bishop."

Dr. Ed Peters, a renowned professor of canon law at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary and a consultant to the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, has insisted, however, that the Church’s law not only bars public advocates of same-sex “marriage” from receiving Communion but, in Canon 915, instructs clergy to deny them Communion.

“Catholics who promote ‘same-sex marriage’ act contrary to [church law] and should not approach for holy Communion,” Dr. Peters wrote in a blog post March 27th. “Depending on the facts of the case, they also risk having holy Communion withheld from them under Canon 915, being rebuked … and/or being sanctioned under [church law] for gravely injuring good morals.”

Dr. Peters’ views on denying Communion to public opponents of Church teaching were supported by Pope Benedict XVI, as well as Cardinal Raymond Burke, who serves as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

Contacted by LifeSiteNews, the Archdiocese of Detroit declined to comment on Bishop Gumbleton’s remarks. “We’ve issued two sets of comments and we’re not going to offer anything additional on that,” said Archdiocesan spokesman Joe Kohn.

Contact:

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
00193 Roma,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Phone: (011) 39-06-6988-4217
Fax: (011) 39-06-6988-5303

Archbishop Allen Vigneron
Chancery Building, Archdiocese of Detroit
1234 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
Email: infodesk@aod.org
Phone: (313) 237-5800
Fax: (313) 237-4644