Detroit Archbishop Vigneron: Be Evangelists for the Gospel of Life in Face of Radical Abortion Measure in Michigan
‘Our struggle is against principalities and powers; it’s only with the help of God through the intercession of Our Lady and St. Michael that we will be able to defend the gospel of life.’
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, along with the Michigan Catholic Conference, is speaking out forcefully against a ballot measure in the upcoming midterms that would add language to the state constitution allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, wiping out the state’s existing pro-life laws, including parental-consent requirements for abortion, sterilization and contraception.
He recently wrote to the faithful urging them to mobilize against the measure and join him in “praying that this destructive proposal is defeated and that Catholics and others use their votes to uphold the right to life and the inherent dignity of all people.”
Archbishop Vigneron spoke with the Register Wednesday about why a strong Catholic response to this proposal is crucial in the post-Roe era.
Why is it important for the Catholic community to mobilize in response to Proposal 3?
It’s very important because it would take us even beyond the abortion regime that was in place because of Roe, and it certainly would have results that go far beyond what we understand to be in the general consensus of the citizens of Michigan. But, most importantly, it’s important for the Catholic community to mobilize because this is who we are as disciples of Christ, the Lord and giver of life, that we need to defend the dignity of the human person.
What makes this proposal so extreme? What areas of conscience rights and family life would it affect beyond widely permitting abortion?
You’re right to talk about the extreme consequences of what the proposal would do to the state constitution, but something preliminary to say is it’s very vague and confusing. That’s one of the problems with it. But an even greater problem is the elimination of a lot of laws that we already have that protect life.
It would permit partial-birth abortion here in the state, which is, of course, a horrific procedure. Right now, we have a prohibition against taxpayer-funded abortion. That would be gone. The need for parental consent for abortion and sterilization procedures would be gone, so you could have teachers or school administrators assisting a young woman in school getting an abortion, and the parents wouldn’t even have to be informed, which is just unconscionable. We have informed consent in the state of Michigan. That would be gone. Women would be counseled about abortion without even completely understanding what’s going on, and the conscience rights of health-care persons would not be protected under this new proposal.
You have called on the faithful to pray, vote and give. Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing has called for “prayer, fasting and almsgiving” and appealed the faithful to “fight like heaven” in response to this proposal. Why are all these things an important part of opposing this proposal?
I’ve asked the faithful here in the archdiocese to pray, vote and give. I think all of that’s important, but prayer is certainly above all. Our struggle is against principalities and powers; it’s only with the help of God through the intercession of Our Lady and St. Michael that we will be able to defend the gospel of life.
Bishop Boyea’s spelling out of the elements of prayer, fasting — that’s all very, very important.
Prayer is certainly important, but we have to take advantage of the other resources that God gives us to vote and try to invite other people to join us in saying “No” to this extreme, anything-goes proposal; and part of being a good citizen is to support efforts to form the citizenry. So I’ve asked the faithful to make contributions to our coalition here, Citizens to Support MI Women and Children. We’re a democracy, and we need to do our part to help shape the common good.
What are some key ways that pro-lifers can change hearts and minds on this issue, as abortion proponents are more emboldened in response to Roe being overturned?
Ask the power of the Holy Spirit for the conversion of hearts and minds. I think to ask the Holy Spirit to show each of us who it is that we might speak to and address to invite to a change of heart, and then to go about that without being harsh or judgmental, but to always emphasize that we want to make the world a better place to do God’s will. We want to protect the rights of everyone: both the rights of the unborn and the rights of women. We’re not against anybody, but we are pro human being. I think to, calmly and with love, make that point is the way that each of us can be an evangelist for the gospel of life.
How would you respond to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s rhetoric, that the issue is one of “women’s rights” and that women need this?
It’s about the rights of two people — and we are not anti-women, but we’re about the rights of the preborn child with equal zeal for the rights of women. We can’t dehumanize one person for the sake of the aims of another human being. That way lies disaster.
What are your thoughts on some of the violence and vandalism that pregnancy centers, churches and pro-lifers have faced in Michigan and nationwide since Roe was overturned? What is a good response to this anger?
Certainly not to be violent in return. It’s very clear that Our Lord calls us to a different approach, and the different approach is to forgive those who respond to us so violently and to ask the Lord to heal their hearts, whatever’s there that’s causing this violence, and to invoke the protection of Our Lady and the holy angels.
Violence begets violence, and the way to conquer violence is with the power of the Holy Spirit.