The Duggar family has previously created controversy through the way they speak of the Catholic faith, and a recent sermon by Jeremy Vuolo, who married into the family six months ago, suggests he will raise the same concerns. Jeremy preaches at Grace Community Church in Laredo, Texas, and in a sermon uploaded to the church YouTube page this week, Vuolo explains what he thinks Catholicism gets wrong.
Most of Jeremy Vuolo’s sermon is simply Protestant Christian beliefs. He speaks of salvation, what he believes God expects of Christians, and shares scripture. However, the first half of the sermon, leading into his talk on salvation, sanctification, and sainthood, involves the difference, in Jeremy’s viewpoint, between sainthood in Catholicism and his own belief system. Although the difference of belief simply falls into the wide range of religious beliefs in America, the way Jeremy expresses it — using words like “defile” and “distorted” — will be, for many viewers, reminiscent of other times the Duggar family has expressed anti-Catholic sentiments.
Jeremy Vuolo married into the Duggar family in October, and since then, his wife, Jinger, has raised a small stir by wearing pants — something the Duggar girls didn’t typically do back home in Arkansas. It left some fans wondering if Vuolo was perhaps far enough from the Duggar family’s beliefs that Jinger would gain new freedoms.
However, Vuolo’s Sunday, May 14 sermon indicates that, at least in the realm of speaking out against other believers, he’s not far from the Duggar family at all.
In the first half of the video, Jeremy talks about how he thinks Catholics have damaged the entire concept of sainthood, mocks one Catholic woman, and decries “Catholic culture” as the reason that people have incomplete or inaccurate understandings of certain Biblical doctrine.
Five minutes into the video, Jeremy Vuolo discusses who can be a saint. He interrupts himself to start talking about Catholic people, particularly Catholics in Laredo.
“86% of religious Laradoans are Catholic, and of the percent which do not identify as religious, they probably grew up in a Catholic home.”
From there, Vuolo further diverts from his message about saints to discuss the struggle of evangelizing in a city with a large Catholic population. He says that evangelists going door-to-door encounter signs that read “No Protestant propaganda, please.” Jeremy laughs aloud describing this and seems to register it as a hostile act.
“If you’re not Catholic, I don’t want to hear from you, essentially, is what the sign is saying.”
Vuolo shares an example to illustrate that Catholics just won’t listen to him. After he knocked on one such door, the woman who answered asked if he was a Catholic, and, according to Jeremy, became angry to learn he was not. He interprets this as the woman being “furious that [Jeremy] wasn’t a Catholic!”
He goes on to mimic the woman angrily waving her arms and trying to grab one of his fellow evangelists, while continuing to laugh and smile as though amused at the woman’s display of emotion, before assuring his audience this is an extreme example and not typical of other Catholics in the community.
Moving on, at the 7:45 mark in the video, Jeremy declares that the Catholic way of canonizing saints has sullied the word.
“My point is this: the Catholic church has defiled the term ‘saint.'”
Further, Vuolo explains, he believes that because of the Catholic culture in Laredo, people don’t know what a saint is. He specifically asserts that the Catholic church has “distorted, or robbed the Lord, of glories that are to be his alone. This is one of the greatest errors of the Catholic church, in my opinion.”
Over the next 20 minutes, Vuolo describes the difference between sainthood as declared by the pope, and as he reads it from scripture (admitting briefly that the Catholic church does also recognize the scriptures he speaks of), describes a prayer in a Catholic hospital, imploring readers to pray the words “St. Jude, pray for me and hear my prayer” (Jeremy says that this defies scripture, which speaks only of God hearing and responding to prayer), and refers to Mother Teresa’s words (15-minute mark) as demonstrating “a Universalist doctrine, opposed to that of Jesus Christ.”
Twice in his sermon, Jeremy brings up the recent story of two children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who, according to the Catholic News Herald, are now the youngest two canonized saints to become so without being martyrs. Vuolo speaks with derision of this story, linking it again to scripture and saying that the pope cannot make someone a saint.
It’s far from the first time that someone in the Duggar family (immediate or extended) has created a controversy by expressing anti-Catholic views. Jessa Duggar Seewald’s husband, Ben, before their marriage, once referred to Catholic beliefs as “deadly errors,” posting about it on his Facebook page before deleting the post after Duggar fans got upset, according to Us Weekly. Jessa Duggar Dillard and her husband, Derick, were at the center of a similar controversy in 2015, and viewers continue to express distaste for the couple’s missionary efforts in El Salvador, a country that is predominantly Catholic.
Jinger Duggar Vuolo may be wearing pants these days, but if the viewers thought that marrying Jeremy Vuolo would move her away from the anti-Catholic rhetoric of the Duggar family, it does not appear to have done so.
[Featured Image by Jeremy Vuolo/Instagram]