Bishop who decreed no Holy Communion for married gay couples responds to critics

Sun. July 2, 2017 7:53 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Springfield, IL - The Illinois Roman Catholic bishop who called on priests to deny Holy Communion and funeral rights to married gay couples says he's surprised by the backlash his decree has received.

Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, an outspoken opponent of marriage equality, issued a decree in which he claimed that the church has "the serious obligation to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state," which it says excludes gay couples.

Gay men and lesbians who are married should not be "admitted to Holy Communion" given "the objectively immoral nature" of their union or receive funeral rites unless they showed "some signs of repentance before their death," the decree states.

Paprocki told the Catholic World Reporter that he was stunned by the extensive media coverage his decree received.

"Yes, to the extent that the decree is a rather straightforward application of existing Church teaching and canon law," he said. "The Catholic Church has been very clear for two thousand years that we do not accept same-sex 'marriage,' yet many people seem to think that the Church must simply cave in to the popular culture now that same-sex 'marriage' has been declared legal in civil law. From a pastor's perspective, it is quite troubling to see that so many Catholics have apparently accepted the politically correct view of same-sex 'marriage.' This just shows how much work needs to be done to provide solid formation about the Catholic understanding of marriage."

Paprocki added that he has privately received "many supportive comments and assurances of prayer" on the issue. He also lashed out at his critics.

"Gay activists have harassed my staff and me with obscene telephone calls, e-mail messages and letters using foul language and profanity, supposedly in the name of love and tolerance. I am sorry that people around me have been subjected to such hateful and malicious language," Paprocki said.

Paprocki, 64, was a vocal opponent of Illinois' passage of a law four years ago that extended marriage to gay couples, going so far as to perform an exorcism against same-sex marriage.

At the time, Paprocki said the ceremony was about love: "[B]eing opposed to things that are sinful, that's actually a very loving thing."

(Related: Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki says exorcism against gay marriage about love.)

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