Being Catholic means ‘paying a price,’ says Detroit archbishop

By David Kerr

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit

Vatican City, Feb 3, 2012 / 08:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Being Catholic in 2012 involves “paying a price” for loving Jesus Christ and his Church, says Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit.

“If we are not willing to pay a price for the grace of the revelation then it is a sign that we don’t really treasure it,” the archbishop told CNA Feb. 3.

“And maybe that is what God is asking us to do – to re-appropriate our own conviction about how precious the knowledge of Jesus is to us.”

Archbishop Vigneron is currently in Rome with 16 other bishops from the Provinces of Detroit and Cincinnati to update the Vatican and Pope Benedict on the health of their dioceses. As part of their “ad limina” visit, the group has also made pilgrimages to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.

“When I see those tombs,” said Archbishop Vigneron, “I immediately think of Our Lord’s big recruitment speech to the apostles when he said ‘I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves’ and I imagine them looking around at one another and saying ‘Is he talking to us?’”

And yet, Christ’s prediction that “if they rejected me they’ll reject you,” is present for Catholics “in every age” even if “it differs in how it takes its shape,” he said.

He believes that one clear manifestation of this is the Obama administration’s decision to force all health insurance to cover sterilization and contraception services, including abortifacient drugs. The “price to be paid,” he said, could be in terms of religious freedom and also financially.

“If I think about these fines that it seems the government will impose upon us, well that is money I could use in my Catholics schools, it’s money I could use for feeding the hungry, providing services to people with addiction. I expect we’ll have to pay a price like that.”

The one price that Archbishop Vigneron said he will refuse to pay is any violation of Catholic moral teaching. As Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York recently said, “they’ve given us a year to figure out how we can violate our principles – it’s not going to happen.”

On Friday morning, Archbishop Vigneron led the bishops of the Detroit Province as they met with Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience. During the seminar-style discussion, the Pope was asked about how to authentically interpret the Church’s mind as regards the liturgy.

“The Pope’s way of talking about it was to say that the liturgy is the experience of the Church and what should happen is that people experience at the Mass the existence of the Church as it is true through all time. I thought that was a very good way to talk about it,” said Archbishop Vegneron

He added that he has “heard the Pope make this point before. The liturgy isn’t something we do. It’s something we inherit and enter into.”

Archbishop Vigneron said the meeting with the Pope also “confirmed” the bishop’s own intuition “that we really have to focus ourselves on the new evangelization,” which involves giving “intentionally focused energy on bringing the Gospel to people who think they’ve already heard.”

That doesn’t involve “some sort of miracle program,” he contended, but does involve “helping people who are strong in their faith to share their faith.”

The archbishop said he took inspiration from the 19th century English cleric, Cardinal John Henry Newman, who saw faith as growing “from being passed from one heart to another heart.”

In modern society, there is immense opportunity to evangelize those “parts of our culture that look upon the Gospel and Gospel way of life as a burden which they seem to think they are fortunate to have escaped,” he noted.

“What we bring is not an onerous burden – we bring a liberation,” he said, “and people may not know they do want this good news from Jesus but it really is what they’re looking for.”

Archbishop Vigneron and the other bishops conclude their “ad limina” visit on Monday Feb 6. He said they return home full of “new encouragement” after a week that has helped them to “take stock of our lives and to find some new breath to go back to reapply ourselves to our task.”

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15 Responses to Being Catholic means ‘paying a price,’ says Detroit archbishop

  1. toadspittle says:

    The other side of the coin, taken from Reuters.

    “The administration cast the decision as a matter of equity for women. The new federal health care law requires most insurance plans to cover preventive services, such as blood pressure checks and childhood immunizations, without a deductible or co-pay. An outside board of scientists and doctors recommended last summer that contraception be included as a preventive service and the administration agreed.
    The mandate does not apply to insurance plans offered by churches and schools that serve and employ primarily people of one faith. Nor does it require any individual physician or pharmacist to provide a service he considers immoral.
    But insurance offered by church-affiliated institutions that deal with the public at large, such as hospitals and universities, must cover contraception. The mandate takes effect for most employers August 1; religious employers can apply for a one-year extension.
    Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, a group that supports access to contraception, said he’s heard from hundreds of women employed by Catholic institutions who welcome the new policy – and express anger at the bishops, who they see lobbying to deny them a benefit provided to others under federal law.
    “They think it would be a great injustice that they be treated differently from other workers,” O’Brien said. “Why is it they should be discriminated against?” Yet many are reluctant to speak out publicly, he said, for fear of angering their employer.”

    If Toad reads this right (and if he doesn’t, he will surely and swiftly be told!) – the Catholic institutions involved are being ordered, indeed forced, to offer contraception and abortificant services to all their patients.
    These patients, if they have any moral reservations or scruples, are under no compulsion whatever to take up the offer.
    Has Toad got this right?

    As to “paying a price for being a Catholic in 2012,” well, duh.
    Toad would like to be told of any commitment that doesn’t carry a price tag.
    In this, or any other year.


  2. The Raven says:


    To get this in its true perspective, the HHS changes force all Catholic employers to provide funding for things including providing abortificants.

    If employees of Catholic institutions (this *isn’t* about patients in Catholic hospitals) decide to avail themselves of these services the law of the US says that they are free to do so, but why should a Catholic employer be forced to provide funding for something that is defined as an objective evil by the Church? Why should that employer become complicit in that evil?


  3. JabbaPapa says:

    Such “Catholic employers” would include dioceses, right ?

    So this is an attempt to force the Church itself to provide financial support for abortions ?


  4. The Raven says:


    From what I have read, the larger parishes, never mind the diocese, will be caught by the rules.


  5. JabbaPapa says:

    Well, this is just straightforward oppression — but I cannot see an entrenched refusal to obey these rules by large enough numbers being generally enforceable by the Courts ; but instead they’ll just pick on a few high-profile scapegoats to pursue and punish.


  6. Toadspittle says:

    So… If Toad has this right (highly doubtful) a non-Catholic employee of a Catholic institution, would – if the Catholics get their way on this issue – have to pay for her contraceptive pills, whereas a Catholic employee at a non-Catholic institution would not?


  7. JabbaPapa says:

    Don’t blame the US Catholic Church for any insufficient separation of Church and State in that country, which has been founded upon strictly Protestant values… nor for the insufficiencies of the US social security system.


  8. Toadspittle says:

    Toad sees nobody – on CP&S anyway – blaming the Catholic Church for insufficient separation of Church and State – which, he believes, was founded on Deist, rather than strictly Protestant values. And very well founded, too.

    “I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.
    “I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance too!”

    His question at 7.50 was directed at Raven – but nobody is excluded from joining in and drubbing Toad.


  9. The Raven says:


    Sorry, hadn’t realised that one was pointed in my direction.

    Yes, you are correct in saying that currently non-Catholic employees of Catholic institutions have to pay for their contraceptives and abortificants out of their own money.

    Are you advocating that Catholic institutions should only employ Catholics?


  10. Toadspittle says:

    “Are you advocating that Catholic institutions should only employ Catholics?”

    Heavens, no, Raven! That would be discriminatory. A very grave sin. (These days.)


  11. JabbaPapa says:

    Obama is proposing a compromise solution :

    President Obama announced a plan today that attempts to accommodate certain religious employers opposed to a rule that would require them to provide access to birth control for women free of charge.

    Obama announced that the rule would be tweaked so that in cases where non-profit religious organizations have objections, insurance companies would be required to reach out to employees and offer the coverage directly.

    “Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive service no matter where they work,” Obama said. “That core principle remains.

    “But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company — not the hospital, not the charity — will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge without co-pays, without hassle.”

    With that distinction, those organizations won’t have to provide the coverage, pay for it or refer their employees to it. The requirement will rest with insurers.

    Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said they always had planned on working with religious institutions to get the mandate right. But they moved up their timetable after hearing vehement objections from the Catholic Church and others.

    “We weren’t going to spend a year doing this,” Obama said in brief remarks to reporters.

    The change, loosely based on a regulation in effect in Hawaii, still leaves some unanswered questions. How will women be referred to insurers if they don’t think of it themselves? Will the cost of contraceptives get added to premiums? And will other employers — say, a strict Catholic who owns a restaurant — be allowed the same exemption as hospitals, schools and charities?

    Officials said that while the final rule goes into effect today, it will not be enforced on religious organizations that object until August 2013, leaving additional time to work out details.


  12. The Raven says:

    Obama's compromise


  13. JabbaPapa says:

    Cute 🙂

    But as far as I can see, the shift seems to be that employees rather than employers will be responsible for securing the specific insurance arrangements concerning these matters, including I would imagine any related financial responsibilities.


  14. The Raven says:


    That is, unfortunately, not true: if the employee elects for the coverage to extend to cover contraceptives and abortificants, then no further charge may be levied on them; in other words, the premiums paid by the employer will pay for this extra service.


  15. JabbaPapa says:

    OK thanks

    This measure is utterly Protestant, and it would be sinful for any Catholic to agree with it, if your general description of it is correct.


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