DETROIT - Tom Nelson and Linda Karle-Nelson, lifelong Catholics, are the parents of gay adult children who are in committed relationships.
At Mass on Sunday, Nelson and Karle-Nelson received Communion. And they intend to do so again this weekend, even after Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron's statements in April that Catholics who support gay unions or marriage should abstain from receiving Communion.
"He's not going to keep me from the Eucharist," said Nelson, 83, a retired engineer from Farmington Hills, Mich. "Somebody's got to stand up and say, 'Enough.' "
So they, along with other Catholics who belong to a lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender support group called Fortunate Families, planned to conduct a prayer vigil Thursday in front of the Archdiocese of Detroit headquarters downtown.
"We're not going to change churches," said Karle-Nelson, 72, a speech pathologist. "We can plant seeds. Our theme has been sharing stories, and sharing stories is a way of changing hearts."
In an April 8 article in the Detroit Free Press, Vigneron said those who receive Communion while supporting gay marriage "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury." A Detroit seminary professor and legal adviser to the Vatican, canon lawyer Edward Peters, also said Catholics who promote gay marriage should abstain from Communion.
Those comments drew widespread attention and fueled an online debate.
Retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who went public 20 years ago with his family's own story about a brother who was gay, said this week that Vigneron's remarks were "legalistic."
"Nobody knows your relationship with God except you," Gumbleton said.