Catholics Angered by Bishop’s Attempt to Exclude Lesbian and Gay Couples

Catholics have reacted strongly against Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s decree prohibiting people in same-gender marriages from participating in the church’s life.

Bishop Paprocki (1)

Contact Bishop Paprocki

Bondings 2.0 reported Thursday on the decree released by the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. In it, Bishop Paprocki instructs pastors to bar people in such marriages from receiving Communion, participating in liturgical ministries, entering RCIA programs, and being granted funerals. You can find an initial report by clicking here.

Yesterday, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, released an open letter to Bishop Paprocki that you can find by clicking here. Today’s post highlights from other Catholic leaders.

Fortunate Families, a network of Catholic parents with LGBT children, published its own letter to Paprocki. The Board referred to the decree as “a hard-hearted document” in which the bishop shows “no pastoral sensitivity, no attempt to dialogue about the positions taken and no effort to reach out to our LGBT children.” The letter continued:

“In denying [LGBT people] the reception of Communion and funeral rites you effectively excommunicate them. Your decree indicates that a dying person who is living publicly in a same sex marriage may be given Holy Communion only if he or she repents. Is being in a same sex marriage on the same level as a person who denies the Creed? Imagine someone in a committed loving relationship for his or her entire life having to choose on his or her deathbed whether to discount a life of love and receive the Body and Blood of Christ or continue a commitment of integrity.”

Fr. James Martin, S.J., who recently published a book on Catholic LGBT issues based on an address he first gave upon receiving New Ways Ministry’s Bridge-Building Award, posted on Facebook:

“If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. . .they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a ‘sign of unjust discrimination’ (2358).”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said in a statement:

“It is simply cruel and shameful to refuse burial or Communion to those who seek the grace and comfort that our Church offers at some of the most difficult moments of life. This is reminiscent of the appalling practice of denying Communion, funerals, and burial to people dying of AIDS at the height of the epidemic. . .[The decree] is unchristian and demeaning. It is totally unworthy of our Catholic faith.”

John Freml, a married gay Catholic in the Diocese of Springfield, told The State Journal-Register the decree “puts priests and other church workers in a difficult position.” Another Catholic in the diocese weighed in:

“Cindy Carlson Rice, also a Springfield Catholic, said she was implicitly told she couldn’t approach for communion because of her support for her daughter’s same-sex marriage. . .said the decree was ‘a smack across the face’ to those LGBT Catholics who have stayed involved in the church.”

In the same article, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, said that Bishop Paprocki’s decree goes beyond previous restrictions imposed by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and other prelates. DeBernardo added, “Paprocki is an anomaly and is not in the mainstream of Catholic thought (with this decree).”

Also quoted was Christopher Pett, the incoming president of DignityUSA, who said:

“Bishop Paprocki’s decree makes it very clear why so many (LGBT) people and their families feel unwelcome in the Catholic Church and why so many leave it. . . .

“This document is mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme. It systematically and disdainfully disparages us and our relationships. It denies us the full participation in the life of our Church to which we are entitled by our baptism and our creation in God’s image.”

Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter told NPR News that he “can’t imagine a cruder thing more at cross purposes with what the Holy Father is trying to do,” and that “privately, 95 percent of other bishops in the U.S. are reading [the decree] and are horrified. Even the ones who are pretty arch on same-sex marriage think this is too far.”

Bishop Paprocki is defending the decree, telling The Washington Post, “These norms are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues.”

New Ways Ministry recommends you to send your own letter to Bishop Paprocki, and we encourage you to communicate honestly, personally, and civilly with him. 

Contact information:

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Catholic Pastoral Center

1615 West Washington Street

Springfield, Illinois 62702-4757

Phone: (217) 698-8500

Email:  tjpaprocki@dio.org

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 24, 2017

Related Article

The Chicago Tribune, “Springfield bishop: No communion, last rites, funerals for same-sex couples

 

12 replies
  1. Joseph Hassan
    Joseph Hassan says:

    Paprocki, Chaput et al have distanced themselves so far from Jesus who said “take this ALL of you and eat…”They like politicians would rather build walls. Even Pope Francis says they arnot Christian. Joe

    Reply
  2. Joe Geist
    Joe Geist says:

    I wonder if Bishop Paprocki is saying anything about the Senate Health Bill. Or is that beyond his province?

    Reply
    • Pat
      Pat says:

      YES!!! This healthcare bill & Repub’s clearly stated goals will allow MANY, MANY Americans to DIE!!, for lack of healthcare!!! &, THAT’S ok with Bp. Proprocki????? AMAZING!!!

      Reply
  3. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf says:

    Father Martin is, as usual, quite right. Bishop Paprocki, how about defrocking pedophile priests. Scripture is mute about homosexuality but it certainly speaks about protecting children–just a thought!

    Reply
  4. Jim Sheil
    Jim Sheil says:

    From Eucharistic Prayer IV for various needs: “For you have given us Jesus Christ, your Son, as our Lord and Redeemer.

    He always showed compassion for children and for the poor, for the sick and for sinners, and he became a neighbor to the oppressed and the afflicted.

    By word and deed he announced to the world that you are our Father and that you care for all your sons and daughters.

    Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labor and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command. And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope.”

    Not sure how the bishop’s decree fits with this, but, then maybe he doesn’t use Prayer IV.

    Reply
  5. Francis
    Francis says:

    In a number of dioceses there are outreach programmes to the lgbt community and priests are appointed by the bishop to offer spiritual and pastoral care to the lgbt community. In light of Bishop Paprocki’s recent decree would a positive outcome be for all of us to ask our bishops to provide positive pastoral support for us?

    Reply
  6. Fr. Neil Pezzulo
    Fr. Neil Pezzulo says:

    Some days I am proud to be a Priest and others I am left wondering what I have gotten myself into. Today, after reading remarks from the Bishop in Springfield, Illinois, I am wondering what I have gotten into. Unbelievable is my only response.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Catholics have continued to express their strong responses to Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s decree barring people in same-gender marriages from participation in church activities, including being denied funerals. To read further about the decree, click here. For more reactions, click here. […]

  2. […] Multiple people have commented back on the decree. New Ways Ministries’ blog captured several comments and asked for respectful communication wit… […]

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