Bishop Thomas Paprocki (http://www.dio.org/bishop).

Bishop Thomas Paprocki (http://www.dio.org/bishop).

Well this probably isn’t the kind of bishop the pope’s liaison to the United States imagined when he asked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to consider appointing more pastoral leaders to top leadership roles.

The Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois, Thomas Paprocki, announced that he would lead a prayer service next week to exorcise the gay-loving demons there that helped bring same-sex marriage to Illinois.

According to the State Journal Register of Springfield, Paprocki said “he will offer ‘prayers of supplication and exorcism’ on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to sign the same-sex marriage legislation into law.”

Paprocki, who holds a JD from DePaul and an MBA from Notre Dame, is a huge fan of exorcism, having led a conference on the subject attended by 100 bishops and priests in 2010. He slammed Catholic legislators who voted for the law:

It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church.

While Paprocki vowed to fight for repeal, in Hawaii, which will adopt same-sex marriage next week, the Catholic Church seemed to admit defeat on the issue, perhaps signaling a shift away form the culture wars. The bishops’ top anti-same-sex marriage crusader, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, released this statement:

My prayers are with the many people who helped defend marriage in Hawaii in a spirit of charity and truth, and by so doing, helped defend a culture of the family. Their efforts were not in vain, and their witness will continue to bear fruit.

Paprocki, of course, is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year, he banned supporters of same-sex marriage from praying in the cathedral, calling their beliefs “blasphemous.” In the run up to the 2012 election, he suggested that voting for Democrats could send one to hell:

Because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.

He compared the relationship between people of faith and modern values to the persecution faced by early Christians, suggesting that today’s environment “is really much more akin to where the early Christians found themselves in the Roman empire.” He also suggested that Islam was unique among religions in inspiring violence.

Paprocki, it goes without saying, is a culture warrior at heart, the kind of mind that rose to positions of leadership under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. As Pope Francis calls for a different kind of leader, one who engages the world and “smells of sheep”, it will be interesting to see how Paprocki’s colleagues receive his extreme rhetoric. Do these kinds of statements embarrass them or are they glad someone is saying what they’re thinking? Will new leadership at the USCCB try to quiet these inflammatory words or will they let it continue unabated?

Categories: Beliefs

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Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O’Loughlin writes about religion and politics from Washington, D.C., paying close attention to the role of the Catholic Church in public life. His writing has appeared in Religion & Politics, the Jesuit magazine America, on BustedHalo.com, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.

30 Comments

  1. Maybe when the Catholic Church cleans house about its role in abetting and covering up systematic child abuse, they can claim to speak for the morals of others with some degree of authority.

    If he feels the need to “pray the gay away”, nobody is going to stop him. His religion, his rules. Just don’t think it means we have to take him seriously when discussing our civil laws in a democratic national context.

  2. Perhaps a little tempering of Paprocki’s speech is in order, with the focus, instead, on challenging those supporting gay “marriage” to defend their positions.

    As for the Church cleaning its own house in order to speak with some degree of authority, that is not a position that liberals actually take. If there were no faults that could be laid at the Church’s door, liberals would still ignore any Church counsel that would suggest that they should review their own positions. After all, liberals believe in no authority beyond themselves, except the authority of a State that is consonent with their own beliefs. Today the State is their be-all and end-all. Under a conservative president their tune will change.

    • You’re right. The Church has no authority on this issue. God bless the State and its authority to bind and loose when it comes to marriage. Exorcise away. Let freedom ring!

  3. Earold Gunter

    Duane, Many of your comments clearly make it easy to understand that you are right of center politically, maybe even far right. I just wonder, do you think anyone can have liberal views, and still get to your heaven?

  4. Deacon John M Bresnahan

    I find it ironic that Bishop Paprocki is labeled in the media an “extremist” or “far right.” This is just more media pro-Gay propaganda.
    For if anyone would take the time to read some history, the bishop’s stands, attitudes and actions are squarely in the middle of traditional morality.
    Only a few years ago most people would vomit at the direction American morality is taking. But the media now controls what is labeled”right”, “left,” “extreme, etc. By history’s standards the extremists are those who are busy tearing down the moral fabric of America.

    • Re: “This is just more media pro-Gay propaganda.”

      Gee … for someone who complains about the media’s use of labels, you sure don’t seem to have any reservations about throwing them around, yourself. I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that kind of behavior.

      Oh wait … I don’t have to wonder. Jesus already made his position clear on that, in Mt 7:5 and Lk 6:42, among other places in the Bible.

    • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

      As the pope said-it is not for us to judge the status of someone’s soul before God and whether the individual repented before death of any evil or immoral acts he had done in life. But , unfortunately, most of the currently popular moral abominations–from the butchering of children in the womb–or even at birth – and the moral farce of gay “marriage”— are promoted, for the most part, by those who refer to themselves as “liberals.”

      • You so illiterate about your church history, and so bigoted toward those who are different than your mirror image. Acts are not immoral just because you do not desire them and would not perform them. Nothing was understood about sexual orientation during any biblical times, hence the ignorance included in the little that referred to i–like your choice of “abomination.”

        You “preach” through the litany that Dolan and Lori have been reciting for so long, so loudly, so ignorantly, with so much prejudice, and so unconstitutionally, while they have ignored their own sins and crimes in hiding the sexual misconduct of themselves and their priests and bishops.

        Not everyone agrees with your definition of life. Not everyone agrees with your decision to let nature take its cruel course and end the life of a mother when a killing birth is imminent. If everyone has the right to life, who’s going to decide in such instances that a mother or her fetus has first choice? Neither you or other clerics have the right to make that choice for them.

        It is despicable and ignorant of you to trash the name you apply to those with whom you disagree. “Liberal” is not a dirty word, and compared to the vast majority of those in his own Jewish religion and his society, Jesus was a “liberal.”

        Marriage is not a farce just because it is the desire of those for whom it is natural, those who were born or matured with a sexual orientation different than yours. After all, gay people are only born of straight people–of which you seem to be one.

        I have long argued the church has things badly in reverse when it assigns the official teaching position of preaching to deacons and reserves the routine reading of rituals to priests. Priests are presumed much more educated in religion than deacons. Formal ritualistic readings should be assigned to deacons while preaching should be reserved for priests because they are more educated in religion. That would also go much further in resolving the priest shortage that was presumed by the re-institution of the “permanent” deaconate.

        Of course, the church still needs to resolve its sick, negative attitudes toward all sex and sexual orientation. It could begin by attending to the problems that have resulted in its own clergy from centuries of holding those ignorant attitudes.

        • Last sentence, first paragraph should have been:

          Nothing was understood about the science, sociology, or psychology of varieties of sexual orientation during biblical times. The existence was hardly even admitted. Hence, the limited use of your copied word, “abomination.”

        • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

          Many people have orientations in many anti-social directions and society has a right to not be a party to those orientations.
          I know many modern Americans are only interested in their current desires and passions, but some others look down the road and see the ultimate destruction that some actions can cause.
          Ancient peoples–who some deride as being ignorant–were very much aware that without future generations a culture, a nation, a people dies. And nothing more undercuts a living future than rampant refusal to conceive by legalizing gay “marriages” that are by nature sterile and anti-life giving–or even exterminate it– in killing the young as some pro-abortion liberal college professors are now advocating.
          It is a good propaganda trick– which seems to be working with the medias strong help– to smear people who are genuinely concerned about the future of Western Civilization and what their grandchildren will face (something gays, for the most part, do not have any “skin in the game” to think about)–as “bigots.”

          • You are throwing a ludicrously wide umbrella over everyone and everything that is different than your own peculiar beliefs and ways. Difference does not make them wrong. It is just as easy to group heterosexuals and heterosexual couples into the category of “ultimate destruction that some actions can cause.” Pray tell, what destruction does a loving relationship between two people of the same sex cause any more than two people of the opposite sex.

            You are hung up on what is ancient. You are unable to move (evolve) toward what is new and different precisely because you resist what we have learned through science, sociology, psychology, and history. Age does not make anything sacred or right. Consider all the ancient evils practiced in the name of religion and your ancient beliefs. Consider the contradictions of Christianity in trying to force belief onto others.

            As for sterile marriages, I guess you would order the dissolution of marriages between people who prove to be sterile, at least with each other. And I guess you would order the dissolution of marriages after the woman of a mixed marriage grows beyond child-bearing years.

            As for the destructive acts that threaten the future of Western Civilization, you had better be ready to look at the leaders of all the actions that have been threats to that future. You would be unable to name one that has not been caused by heterosexuals in mixed relationships who have procreated offspring. All of your arguments ring loud and hollow.

      • Earold Gunter

        Deacon, For your sake, I hope you’re wrong about standing in judgement one day. If it happens I would hope that the judgement your God uses will be one of love, mercy, and understanding, and not those that you espouse to apply in your life.

  5. What exactly is supposed to happen when/after the exorcism occurs: The governor changes his mind? The ink on the law disappears? Gay and lesbians disappear? Gays and lesbians no longer wish to be married? Straight marriages become more straight? The bishop’s vestments become less gay? Hem-lines lengthen? Polyester becomes cool? What?!?

    • I don’t know what specific effect(s) the exorcism will have, but one result Is certain: Pope Francis is going to get a little message that not all U.S. bishops are waving the white flag and surrendering to the gay marriage activists like Francis did. Some of the bishops are going to take a stand and fight back.

      And that’s a very welcome and necessary message right now.

      • Giving the rest of the world more reason not to take them seriously. US Bishops already have squandered away whatever perception of moral authority they had when they decided that protecting, making excuses for and covering up rampant abuse of children was a priority for their resources.

        They did further damage to their moral authority when they fought for the power to tell people what to do with their wages and medical benefits and ironically called it “religious freedom”. Now they fight to have bigotry recognized under the color of law.

        This is what happens when you try to defer to religious authorities for moral guidance.

      • oh no, i am that catholic again

        hate to break it to ya doc, but the extensive catholic catechism says being gay is a-ok. clearly you need to brush up on your catechism…take an adult class this time will ya

  6. There is no doubt there are evil influencers and instigators trying to destroy Gods perfect plan for sexuality and marriage. Whether an exorcism will have any effect is very uncertain.

    • yes its me again, that 45+yo catholic virgin

      hi frank, your protestant right?
      i read that crappy book from that saddleback church pastor.
      your in the wrong venue. don’t you know that the real pinheads are the protestants?

  7. Paprocki is one of the many sick and hypocritical Catholic bishops that are now in place because of the appointment of extremists by John Paul and Benedict through an ancient system that was only a mirror of its misfit self.

    The only curing solution would be for the Vatican to end its long-time practice of getting episcopal nominations out of the bishops of any conference, forwarded through respective apostolic delegates or nuncios, and have the clergy AND LAY PEOPLE of each diocese choose their own bishop with the added approval of a national committee of bishops AND LAY PEOPLE.

    The current system is too far removed from the people of God. It is too inbred with the Romanita clericalism that has given us so many bad hierarchical apples for so long. The current system prevents the Catholic Church from being an imitation of Jesus. And it prevents the bishops from being responsible to the people of God whom they are supposed to serve–pastorally.

  8. Paprocki, like so many bishops, has even finessed the posturing of his fellow hierarchs for photos by placing his right hand just below his pectoral cross, left arm hanging at his side. This shallow posturing matches his outrageous declaration that he will resort to the ancient mythology of exorcism. It has gotten him a lot of media attention only because it and he are so antique. Too bad the devils won’t listen to him–mainly because they aren’t’ there, can’t hear. When are the practitioners of religion going to mature? Is this really “pastoral?”

  9. A bishop with a spine is a rare and wonderful sight to behold. Bishop Paprocki, I will remember to say a special prayer for this holy man each night, and may God continue to bless him with the courage of St Athanasius.

    • Bishop Paprocki needs lots of prayers, but not for your intentions. Like you, he holds illiterate and evil ideas against everyone who disagrees with him. This kind of thinking certainly proves there are many gods, and many of those gods who are claimed to be Christian are merely evil, man-made phantasms.

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