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Conscience Magazine

Bishop Paprocki Holds Exorcism after Illinois Approves Same-Sex Marriage

February 19, 2014

A Bill legalizing same-sex marriage became Illinois law in November—with the help of Catholic legislators and Gov. Pat Quinn, also a Catholic. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield responded to the news by holding an exorcism in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, saying that unions for gays and lesbians were a phenomenon that “comes from the devil and should be condemned as such,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The bishop also had harsh words for the lawmakers who supported the bill, calling them “morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.”

Exorcisms are traditionally performed by priests with specialized training on individuals in a private setting. The public reacted to this unusual exorcism, with supporters of the legislation, many of them Catholic, lining up outside the cathedral to express their opposition to Paprocki’s ceremony. Prior to the event, 14,000 people nationwide signed a petition asking that the event be cancelled, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

Paprocki pointed to a statement made in 2010 by Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, on the eve of the passage of Argentina’s same-sex marriage law, which the cardinal attributed to the “father of lies,” a scriptural reference to the devil. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan explained his support for same-sex marriage by quoting a more recent line from Pope Francis about gays: “Who am I to judge?” Cardinal Francis George, a long-time opponent of same-sex marriage in Illinois, wrote in a church bulletin insert after the bill’s passage that the church should “adjust to this [law] for the sake of social harmony,” the Sun-Times reported.