Bishop Paprocki Says Marriage Equality Supporters Should Be Disciplined Like Children

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois,does not fear controversy when it comes to gay and lesbian matters. Now, a new video has emerged where he speaks in pastorally harmful and belittling ways about LGBT people that seem shocking in the age of Pope Francis.

Paprocki, who once debated Sr. Jeannine Gramick on the issue of marriage equality, made headlines last November for holding an exorcism on the same day Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who is Catholic, signed equal marriage rights into law in their state. The video which has recently emerged is the bishop’s attempt to explain why he held the exorcism, and was filmed by Life Site News, a conservative Catholic website, during mid-January activities surrounding the March for Life in Washington, DC.

Claiming the exorcism was appropriate because the Catholic Church was undergoing “persecution” by advocates of LGBT equality, Paprocki stated in the video

“I thought that would be a fitting time for us to have that prayer, really for praying for God and his power to drive out the Devil from his influence that seems to be pervading our culture so much in our world this day. That was kind of the whole context for offering it.”

The interviewer also asked Paprocki how he would respond to those criticizing the exorcism as hateful. Paprocki’s response:

“You really have to understand what love is all about…By being to opposed to the redefinition of marriage and by being opposed to things that are sinful, that’s actually a very loving thing…perhaps it’s the permissiveness of our society that people think that if you don’t get what you want that you’re somehow being hateful, if you don’t give them what they want.

“But sometimes, like any good parent will tell you, that sometimes you have to discipline your child, sometimes you have to say no. And sometimes, you even have to punish.

“And when a parent does those things, they’re not being hateful towards their children, they’re actually being very loving by correcting them and showing them the right way to do things.”

As for those working for marriage equality, he called their efforts a “stridently secular agenda” driven by politicians and the media. Paprocki even went so far as to say “the work of the Devil is behind this” and quoted a disputed comment by Pope Francis during his time as a cardinal in Argentina to justify his anti-gay actions.

Paprocki concluded by making unsubstantiated claims that children raised by same-gender couples experience adverse effects and that the two people of the same sex who marry is “basically a lie.” You can view the entire video at Raw Story by clicking here.

Bishop Paprocki’s remarks seem to be standard fare for him, but this does not mitigate the damage an interview like this does. It is well past time for Paprocki to stop his exaggerated criticism, which only alienates LGBT Catholics and their supporters, and instead do some positive pastoral outreach and reconciliation.

Pope Francis has shown through word and action that he wants bishops who show mercy and welcome to all, including LGBT people, and asked bishops to stop obsessing over issues like same-gender marriage. Without changing their beliefs on marriage, South Africa’s bishops sought solidarity with the LGBT community instead of division in response to anti-gay laws and a handful of cardinals have reached out for greater LGBT inclusion as well.

Paprocki should follow the steps of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who heads up the American bishops’ anti-marriage equality campaign, and at least listen to LGBT people’s lived experiences with compassion. Perhaps he will see the many Catholics who work for marriage equality and LGBT inclusion because of their faith, working not for demonic reasons, but for God and their beloved friends and family who are gay.

At the very least, Paprocki should keep quiet on LGBT issues for awhile. Suggesting that those who support marriage equality are similar to children needing discipline and punishment directly contradicts the Church’s call for respect when engaging LGBT people and issues.  His comments have no place in the Catholic community.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

17 replies
  1. Terence
    Terence says:

    Perhaps it’s time for Paprocki and other bishops who ignore Church teaching on “respect, compassion and sensitivity” to be disciplined like children?

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    I think Pope Francis needs to give Paprocki the “Bling Bishop” treatment: suspend him from his post, and send him to a monastery, or to serve as an ordinary priest in an inner city parish, in order to reflect deeply on the harmful nature of his arrogant attitude. Either that, or give him the “misbehaving school bully” treatment: order him him write “Who Am I To Judge?” 1000 times on a blackboard, and then send the video of his “Penance” to the Vatican for verification. Perhaps one of those two options would finally get through to him. Nothing else seems to be working.

  3. Steve Kellmeyer
    Steve Kellmeyer says:

    Paprocki is correct in every respect and on every point.

    And you know that, shortly after his election, Pope Francis broke an Argentinian priest because the priest advocated homosexual “marriage”, right? Reduced him to the lay state.

    Pope Francis who, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina in June 2010, faced similar legislation. Concerning that proposal, the future Pope said, “The identity of the family, and its survival are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. … Let us not be naïve: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [that is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project, but rather a ‘move’ of the Father of Lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

    – See more at:

  4. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    A troubling article, but well written and answered. Thanks Bob! Voices like Bishop Paprocki we can do without! His is NOT pastoral or indeed helpful.

  5. JohnM
    JohnM says:

    Can you imagine if we were in the age of the Inquisition? The lumber yards would be in business for sure. By the way, sending him to the poor would be an insult to them. They deserve better.

  6. Larry Quirk
    Larry Quirk says:

    At least he is a good reminder of the strident conservative position that many bishops hide with smiles and sops (Dolan) and I see him as good PR for the pro-gay movement in the Catholic church since he is so extreme.

  7. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM
    Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    My brother, Thomas, when I was confirmed, I became an adult in the Church. I am not a child. And you are not my parent. You are my brother. Please consider, “It (love) does not dishonor others…it keeps no record of wrongs.” I agree that the Prince of Lies is in the mix. My brother, consider that you are not immune to that influence. This is said with love.

  8. rachelfs
    rachelfs says:

    It seems to me that this Bishop whose speech and manner is careful and measured is suffering from an overload of persona. He needs to have the power of ceremonies like exorcism to prove his magical power to defeat evil. I cannot imagine that he has any skills in engaging in a dialogue. He judges quickly –an opposing view is heresy, dangerous, oppositional, etc. I remember his “debate” with Sr. Jeanine — I was tempted to see the cartoon bubbles of his thoughts appear above his head where his judgement was swift and “simple”: disobedient, Sister. Very deeply troubled persons who struggle with inner demons would probably scare him away from an exorcism.

  9. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Yes, there is a lack of understanding, on YOUR part, Bishop Paprocki. You acknowledge that you know the connotations associated with the word “exorcism” but you went ahead and used it. You could’ve held a general “prayer service” of some sort, but you chose to use a rite of exorcism. You sought controversy. How many other “untruths” have you held a rite of exorcism for? Even if I agreed with you, I would not support an “exorcism,” unless you wanted to exorcise the devil from a Church that covered up child abuse or other heinous violations against human dignity. Clean up your own house before blaming the vague “secular media” for your own mean-spirited attempt to stir controversy with talk of the devil and exorcisms. But you sure did get a lot of publicity for yourself. I thank God I do not serve the Church in your diocese


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] El Decreto no es el primer acto perjudicial del Obispo Paprocki contra las personas LGBT y sus familias. El año pasado  criticó implícitamente  al arzobispo de Chicago Blase Cupich por sugerir que la recepción de la comunión debe ser determinada por cada persona según su conciencia. Cuando Illinois aprobó la igualdad matrimonial en 2013, Paprocki llevó a cabo un  exorcismo público  debido a la ley, y él había sugerido previamente que los partidarios de la igualdad del matrimonio deben ser  disciplinados como niños . […]

  2. […] The Decree is not Bishop Paprocki’s first damaging act against LGBT people and their families. Last year, he implicitly criticized Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich for suggesting that reception of Communion is to be determined by each person according to their conscience. When Illinois passed marriage equality in 2013, Paprocki held a public exorcism because of the law, and he had previously suggested that supporters of marriage equality should be disciplined like children. […]

  3. […] The Decree is also not Bishop Paprocki’s first damaging act against LGBT people and their families. Last year, he implicitly criticized Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich for suggesting that reception of Communion is to be determined by each person according to their conscience. When Illinois passed marriage equality in 2013, Paprocki held a public exorcism because of the law, and had previously suggested that supporters of marriage equality should be disciplined like children. […]

  4. […] Paprocki, known for his strong negative rhetoric on LGBT issues, including exorcism against marriage equality, responded in The State […]

  5. […] line with a philosophy that Paprocki expressed in defending his exorcism, referenced above. In an interview in 2014 he […]

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