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Bishop Paprocki responds to controversy, criticisms over decree on same-sex marriage

On June 12, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois issued a decree regarding same-sex “marriage” (SSM) and “related pastoral issues”.  In it, he reaffirmed traditional Catholic teaching that marriage can only be “a covenant between one man and one woman …” and promulgated diocesan norms relating to SSM.  Norms included that no member of the diocesan clergy or staff is allowed to participate in a SSM service in any way, nor is church property to be used for SSM services or receptions.  Persons in SSM relationships may not receive Holy Communion, and when in danger of death, persons in SSM relationships may not receive Holy Communion in the form of Viaticum unless they express repentance for their lifestyle.

Additionally, persons in SSM relationships may not receive a Catholic funeral unless they offered some signs of repentance before their death, nor may they serve as lectors or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass.  Children of parents in SSM relationships may receive the sacraments and attend Catholic schools; however, such parents should be aware that their children will be instructed in the fullness of Catholic teaching.

In a follow-up statement released June 23rd, Bishop Paprocki added that “the Church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state.”

While the decree was applauded by some Catholic commentators and pundits, it drew vehement criticism from others.  Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter said that the bishop should be “sacked,” and that the decree is “so completely at odds with the direction Pope Francis is trying to take the church.”  Christopher Pett, the incoming President of DignityUSA, described the decree as “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.”  Fr. James Martin, SJ, who frequently comments on issues related to same-sex attraction, complained, “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).”

Read more at Catholic World Report. 

Further Reading: Bishop Paprocki Unfairly Maligned 

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