The Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois, went ahead with a prayer service and exorcism today in the diocese’s cathedral in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage in that state. In his homily, Paprocki said he didn’t intend to cause controversy, but felt that God called him “to speak out and conduct these prayers.” He said that legalizing same-sex marriage is “institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality” and said the service was “intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the Church.”

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Springfield told the Chicago Tribune that the exorcism was not unusual:

Kathie Sass, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Springfield, said the church performs “minor exorcisms” regularly. When babies are baptized, priests and deacons ask parents to renounce Satan and all his works. When new Catholics are received into the church on the eve of Easter, they are asked to do the same.

“These prayers that the bishop is using are from the rite of exorcism, but they are specifically designed to pray for the limitation of the work of the devil and the work of evil in the world,” she said.

“This is not a Hollywood version,” she said.

Meanwhile, a group called Faithful America, whose tagline is “Love thy neighbor. No exceptions.”, collected nearly 15,000 signatures urging Paprocki to cancel the exorcism. The petition read:

While other Catholics are working to put service to the poor and broken at the center of the church’s ministry, Bishop Paprocki is embarrassing the church with a pointless political stunt, staging what he’s calling “prayers of supplication and exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage.”

Let’s show Bishop Paprocki — and the dozens of media outlets that are already covering this story — that everyday Catholics and other Christians are appalled and want him to cancel his plans for this “exorcism.”

In an email to supporters, Faithful America’s executive director, Michael Sherrard, wrote that “Bishop Paprocki’s pointless political stunt runs directly counter to Pope Francis’ vision for a more welcoming and inclusive Catholic Church.”

But Paprocki quoted Pope Francis who weighed on in Argentina’s embrace of same-sex marriage as Archbishop of Buenos Aires:

The deception of the Devil in same-sex marriage may be understood by recalling the words of Pope Francis when he faced a similar situation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010. Regarding the proposed redefinition of civil marriage in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote on June 22, 2010, “The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex. The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. . . . Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a ‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

The Pope’s reference to the “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John (8:44), where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and the father of lies.” So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex “marriage” comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.

Conservative Catholics have expressed disappointment that Pope Francis hasn’t condemned same-sex marriage and abortion in the aggressive, black-and-white style like his predecessor. In fact, in his interview with Jesuit journals, Pope Francis distanced himself from this approach:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said. “This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.”

Will the pope’s bishops jump on board with this new vision? It remains to be seen, but Catholics in Springfield, Illinois, shouldn’t hold their breath.

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, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.


  1. catholic parishioner who led the gays

    as a straight catholic who is a 45+ yo virgin, it is clear to me why gays should be permitted to marry each other and not someone of the opposite sex. would you as a straight person marry someone who is homosexual. i wouldn’t. marriages are automatically null and void if a heterosexual person is married to a homosexual person. this is canon law 101 here.

  2. catholic parishioner who led the gays

    its an insult to heterosexuals telling them to marry a homosexual, just as it is an insult to tell a homosexual to marry a heterosexual person. furthermore, it is against canon law to for heteros to be married to a homo. getting an annulment in this situation is a slam dunk.

  3. catholic parishioner who led the gays

    no priest can rightly and justly command heteros to marry homos against their will and vice versa. he would lose his right to practice as a priest. its just common sense why same sex marriage is licit. i won’t push it any further than this but canon lawyers know i could. i will save them the headache of the truth. that one will be hashed out in another generation or two.

  4. catholic parishioner who led the gays

    my observation of lot is that he was NOT A JUST MAN. he only got saved thanks to abraham pleading his case to save his neck, who god didn’t want to disappoint.
    when i die and go to heaven, i doubt the 12 brothers will be sitting on the 12 thrones of judgement.

  5. Let’s be honest. If the gay activist group “Faithful America” is opposed to Bishop Paprocki, then that means Paprocki is doing something right. Maybe his exorcism struck a nerve on them, yes?

  6. Being an ultra adherent of legalism and absolute ritual purity in the Gospels is the traditional defining characteristics of the Pharisees. I would propose that Bishop Paprocki and other of our culture warrior bishops by their actions excellently fit this definition (if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck,…..).

  7. Now if they can only pray away the pedophiles in their organization they keep spending so much money to defend. Or better yet, just stop covering up for them.

  8. While looking at a photo of Sophia Vergara, I got a warm, tingling feeling. For a moment, I thought Paprocki’s exorcism had worked: then I realized I was just admiring her shoes.

  9. Headline on June 2, 2014; “Jesus Christ must have slept through an exorcism carried out by a Catholic Dunce, since Illinois same sex marriages have started”…….

  10. Items got so heated up that the owners of the hallway &
    Oates Forever Facebook group page decided they would delete
    plenty concerning articles due, since they said, “. Unbeknownst to you, every month to so, your friends plus colleagues will help you to receive an email that looks like it’s a direct invitation from you in order to join FB. Each basic principle of Facebook privacy happens to be debated at length for some time, but this new method that banks on consumers virtually opening the door for scammers and advertisers basically nullifies any type to privacy protection available.

  1. […] O’Loughlin, Michael J. “Over objection, Catholic bishop holds anti-gay exorcism.”Religion News Service, November 20, 2013.…. […]

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