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Conscience Magazine

Illinois Bishop Publicly Condemns Same-Sex Marriage

August 10, 2017

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, decreed in June that people in same-sex marriages “should not present themselves for Holy Communion, nor should they be admitted to Holy Communion.” Addi­tionally, such Catholics should be kept out of the public ministry, “including but not limited to reader and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.” He concluded with a proscrip­tion against Catholic funeral rights for those who have “lived openly in a same-sex marriage,” though the decree does allow a Catholic funeral for those who have “given some sign of repen­tance before their death.”

The decree has been met with a considerable degree of disappointment from many Catholics. Father James Martin, an active voice in church-LGBT issues, publicly rebutted the decree as discriminatory and cruel. Pointing to the myriad reasons Holy Communion should theoretically be denied to a parishioner, including extramarital cohabitation and the use of contraceptive services, Fr. Martin asserted that being inconsistent on these issues to specifically target the LGBT community is a “sign of unjust discrimina­tion.” Overwhelmingly, Catholic voices discontented with the bishop’s decree center on its being a cruel, public display of condemna­tion for an already mistreated group of people.

In a follow-up interview with Catholic World Report, Bishop Paprocki agreed with Father Martin in part, but described same-sex marriage as an “immoral lifestyle” particularly deserving of condemnation. He stressed, however, that LGBT people are equally capable of repen­tance and conversion as straight people living in sin, and that the decree specifi­cally targets same-sex marriage rather than any particular sexual orientation.