Illinois bishop to pray publicly in reparation for gay marriage law

Bishop Thomas J Paprocki of Springfield Illinois CNA US Catholic News 10 10 12 Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has scheduled prayers of supplication and exorcism as reparation for the state's adoption of a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

"It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church," Bishop Paprocki said Nov. 14 in announcing the prayers.

"All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation. We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church."

The prayers will be said Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Springfield cathedral, roughly the same time as Governor Pat Quinn, himself a Catholic, will be signing into law the bill which redefines marriage in Illinois to include same-sex couples. The bill was passed by the state legislature Nov. 5.

Bishop Paprocki explained that he was moved to hold the prayers by the example of the current Pope, saying, "the context for this prayer service may be understood by recalling the words of Pope Francis when he faced a similar situation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010."

He quoted Pope Francis as saying June 22, 2010, when Argentina was considering adopting gay marriage, that the bill "may gravely harm the family."

"The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children … at stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts," then-Archbishop Bergoglio said. "Let us not be naïve: it is not a simple political struggle; is it an intention 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."

Bishop Paprocki explained that the Pope's reference to "the father of lies" is an allusion to Christ's identification of the devil as "a liar and the father of lies" in the Gospel according to John.

"So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex 'marriage' comes from the devil and should be condemned as such."

The Springfield diocese's announcement of the prayer service noted that the prayers to be said will be taken from the 2004 edition of the Rite of Exorcism.

Bishop Paprocki stated that since gay marriage is contrary to God's plan, "those who contract civil same-sex marriage are culpable of serious sin," according to the release, and he also noted that politicians who enacted the legislation are "morally complicit as co-operators" in facilitating that sin.

He concluded by saying that despite the gravity of the sin of same-sex marriage, "it is good to recall the profound expression of divine mercy uttered by Jesus as he was dying on the cross to save us from our sins, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'"

Illinois' gay marriage law will take effect June 1, 2014. Civil unions had been legal in the state since 2011.

The new law was supported by several legislators who cited Pope Francis' message of mercy and non-judgement for homosexual persons who are trying to live in chastity as having swayed their position.

On Nov. 6, the Chicago Tribune quoted Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, who had been undecided on the bill, as saying, "as a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people."

Chicago's daily also quoted House Speaker Michael Madigan, who alluded to Pope Francis' comments, saying that "for those that just happen to be gay – living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal – who am I to judge that they should be illegal?"

Bishop David Malloy of Rockford stated after the bill's passage that "astonishingly, some of those who voted for this human redefinition did so by invoking Pope Francis or their Catholic faith."

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"We must not allow ourselves to be deceived. This decision, however well intended, has no basis in nature and certainly not in the teaching or the practice of our Catholic faith."

In another statement, he added that the vote's outcome "ignores the unique nature of this institution that is based in the complementarity of men and women and is intimately linked to the procreation and raising of children who have a right to a mother and a father. This legislation undermines this fundamental basis of human interaction and its contribution to a stable society."

"We pray that those who stood prepared to support this legislation will also be prepared to answer for its consequences on our society."

The legislation has been questioned for its lack of religious liberty protections. While it neither requires churches to marry gay couples nor forces them to let gay couples use their facilities, concerns have been raised over issues of health insurance, and a lack of protections for business owners who conscientiously object to providing services for same-sex couples.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois stated that is "deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage. We remain concerned about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill."

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