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.
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.