Catholics Object to Bishop Paprocki’s Exorcism, Which ‘Casts Out More Catholics than Demons’

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Bishop Thomas Paprocki performed a widely publicized exorcism last night, coinciding with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s signing of the state’s new marriage equality law. Such an extreme action from the bishop prompted two Catholics to question this episcopal obsession with marriage equality, and suggest it is time to move on for the good of the Catholic Church, as well as LGBT people and their families.

Writing in the Washington Post, Thomas Villareal tries to separate the bishops’ opposition to LGBT rights from other issues, especially abortion. He begins:

“On Wednesday, the Catholic bishop of Illinois, Thomas Paprocki, will perform an exorcism for the state of Illinois. That’s right, an exorcism – for the entire state…

“Outrageous –and perhaps even a bit comical –as many might find the use of the rite of exorcism to make a political statement in the culture wars, the entire body of U.S. Catholic bishops has, in fact, implemented a far less theatrical, yet ever more serious plan in their attempt to sully the love and commitment of same-sex couples, along with their civil marriage equality, in the minds and hearts of lay Catholics. This is no laughing matter.”

Mired in these culture wars, Villareal, who is both pro-life and pro-marriage equality, rejects how closely the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has linked abortion, marriage equality, and contraception. He especially objects to the Eucharistic Holy Hours for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty that were re-affirmed just last week at the bishops’ conference meeting in Baltimore.  Villareal observes that the moral and biological differences between abortion and same-sex marriage are huge, but the bishops seem intent on blurring these distinctions:

“The Catholic bishops of the United States are attempting to make their own conflation of two polar opposite issues, abortion and homosexuality, a permanent feature of American Catholic prayer life. And they are using the Blessed Sacrament, the body of Jesus, to do so. To me, this is despicable.”

In conclusion, Villareal urges Catholics to make their voices heard not only to Pope Francis and the Synod on the Family, for which several surveys have emerged, but also to their local Catholic leaders.

The final outcome of Bishop Paprocki’s exorcism stunt could be to “cast out more Catholics than demons” as Neil Steinberg, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist writes:

“There is a harm here, and at some point the hurt being inflicted shifts from the traditional victim — the LGBT community — to the people doing the baseless slurring. In 1974, 47 percent of Catholics attended mass once a week, according to Pew Research. In 2012, it was almost exactly half that, 24 percent.

“Exorcise that, fellows. And while we can’t lay the blame entirely on intolerance of gays or marginalizing women — the endless sex-abuse scandal no doubt had a hand — the numbers still reflect what happens when you put a medieval doctrine above people.

“None of this is loving, none of this is ministering to souls. It is a mean, small, fearful gazing beneath the sheets — a church tradition, yes, but now clearly jamming their noses into realms where they never belonged and belong even less today.”

Check back here this afternoon for updates on both Governor Quinn’s signing of the law and the outcomes of Bishop Paprocki’s exorcism last night.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related Articles:

November 19, 2013: Unnecessary Roughing: Why Catholic Bishops Should be More Accepting of Gay Marriage 


29 thoughts on “Catholics Object to Bishop Paprocki’s Exorcism, Which ‘Casts Out More Catholics than Demons’

  1. Friends November 21, 2013 / 4:57 am

    What Neil Steinberg said! I wonder if Pope Francis himself understands how much spiritual and temporal damage these extreme right wing antics by Paprocki and his ilk are doing to the Church. Dorothy Day would not have been amused. She would have stood up against this hateful nonsense.

  2. duckman44625 November 21, 2013 / 5:56 am

    Linking the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Exorcism of Gay persons seems to me to smack of sacrilege. Whenever did Christ exorcise a person – even one He deemed to be a sinner. Bishops of this ilk need prayer themselves for they betray the Gospel which speak of Love as the only Commandment, the only action which should be used in shepherding. Their use of “exorcism” smacks of the pyre and pillar, some thing I have no doubt they would also employ if given free reign. A schism in our Church is likely – one of their own making – for they do not follow Francis’ leads as they vow to do. Namaste

    • MichaelS November 21, 2013 / 2:58 pm

      Christ actually did cast out demons and said his followers will do the same in His name. Having said that, I agree that this bishop’s use of the Exorcism in these circumstances is a sacrilegious abuse. The Rite is only to be used in cases of actual demonic possession, not to make political statements about perceived moral wrongs.

  3. Fran Rossi Szpylczyn November 21, 2013 / 6:46 am

    This is such a disgraceful abuse of his office. God have mercy on you Bishop Paprocki, God have mercy on you. This is grandstanding and divisive, one of the most unpastoral acts that he could imagine – and then act upon. God have mercy.

    What on God’s green earth are the bishops thinking? What is Paprocki thinking?

    This matter has left me relatively speechless, totally heartbroken and distressed, horrified. I lack the language to adequately express myself here.

    Related but unrelated, have you seen this post at Women in Theology? It is written by someone in the Orthodox church, but its words touched my heart and give plenty of food for Catholic thought as well.

  4. Michael Marinelli November 21, 2013 / 10:49 am

    Jesus once spoke of the one unforgiveable sin was a sin against the Holy Spirit. I wonder if the dispicable act of using exorcism as a means to strke those who in the spirit of love wish to marry qualifies. Reducing the sacrements and ancient rituals to political theatre may also qualify. Thankfully I’m sure God is more forgiving than his hard hearted bishops.

    • Fr. Ralph Caley OSSP November 21, 2013 / 6:14 pm

      “I’m sure God is more forgiving than his hard hearted bishops.” Are you also willing to scept the ulternative on their behalf?

  5. Stan Lewis November 21, 2013 / 12:18 pm

    He should have an exorcism for his priests who continue to abuse little boys and girls.

  6. Joe Sacerdos November 21, 2013 / 1:14 pm

    I was hoping Pope Francis would call him on the phone and tell him to “knock off the nonsense.”

  7. Chaplain Bill November 21, 2013 / 1:17 pm

    Just when you think that it can’t get any worse, it does.

    • newwaysministryblog November 21, 2013 / 2:25 pm

      Thanks for this link, Bill. We will include it in tomorrow’s post which will also be about the exorcism event.

  8. Bob Miailovich November 21, 2013 / 2:02 pm

    I hesrd thst, under pressure, the bishop was going to chasnge his “exorcism” to a “holy hour”. Did he?

    • newwaysministryblog November 21, 2013 / 2:25 pm

      The news reports we read today said that the title of the event contained the word “exorcism” in it. We will have a post on Friday about today’s reports of the event.

  9. Dionis Cerdà November 22, 2013 / 6:18 am

    Cant we file a petition to get him removed from office, it would be time. This man is beyond disgrace!

  10. Dionis Cerdà November 22, 2013 / 6:19 am

    It might be best if we press the vatican directly.

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