By John Jalsevac

OAKLAND, CA, January 6, 2009 ( – In a formal announcement posted yesterday on the Vatican web site and announced at a press conference in Detroit, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Allen H. Vigneron, the Third Bishop of Oakland, California, as the new Archbishop of Detroit.

Vigneron is a native of Michigan, and said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” when he received the call only a few days before Christmas, informing him of his appointment to the Detroit See. In his remarks at the press conference at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, held in the same room in which he learned to type as a seminarian in the 1960s, the bishop occasionally wiped away tears and paused to collect himself.

“I want to express my respect and love for the Church in Oakland,” he said. “Even though I experience great peace in accepting the call to Detroit because I know it is God’s will, this peace comes with great sadness at parting.”

“My years of pastoral service in the Diocese of Oakland, while not without significant challenges, have been filled with blessings I will never forget.”

Bishop Vigneron will be replacing Cardinal Maida in Detroit, who has passed the required retirement age of 75. Prior to his appointment to the California diocese, Vigneron had served as an Auxiliary bishop of Detroit, from 1996 to 2003

Over the years Bishop Vigneron has established a relatively firm orthodox and pro-life and pro-family reputation. Besides participating in pro-life events such as the annual Walk for Life, he has on more than one occasion used his column in the Oakland newspaper to defend the right to life of the unborn and to condemn euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

In an October 2004 article on voting, the bishop had firm words for pro-abortion politicians and encouraged his flock to vote pro-life.

In voting “our starting point,” he said, “is always and at all times to acknowledge and cherish human life as a gift from God, sacred and inviolable. Because every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, we have a duty to defend human life from conception until natural death.”

He went on to say that, “Whenever a politician or political party promotes the acceptance and support of abortion or euthanasia, no matter how morally compelling their stands may seem on other issues, their stand on these crucial life issues must be judged as fundamentally flawed.”

In another, more recent column, published to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the bishop specifically addressed abortion at length. In the article the bishop urged members of his flock to perform acts of penance in reparation for the sin of abortion.

“We must include in our prayer all those who have been touched by the evil of abortion,” he said, “whether by performing it, or by procuring it or just by passively going along with it. These neighbors of ours … particularly need the assistance of our prayers, because, while the preborn victims of abortion have been the object of a terrible injustice, those who participate in this evil are even more to be pitied. Their state, if unrepented, is far worse.”

He specifically urged Catholics to pray the rosary to ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to put an end to the evil of abortion.

In May of this year Bishop Vigneron issued a pastoral letter condemning the decision of the California Supreme Court to permit same-sex “marriages.”

“According to [God’s] irrevocable plan, the marriage relationship is only possible between one man and one woman,” he wrote at the time, adding that, “As faithful citizens, Catholics are called to bring our laws regarding marriage into conformity with what we know about the nature of marriage.”

Bishop Vigneron will continue to administer the Diocese of Oakland until his installation in Detroit on January 28.