Bishop Thomas Paprocki, head of
the Catholic Diocese of Springfield,
(CNSNews.com) - Before LGBT Pride celebrations begin in Chicago this weekend, Bishop of Springfield Thomas Paprocki issued a formal decree calling on all members of the Catholic faith to enforce the Church’s longstanding policies on the issue of homosexuality.
These policies include no same-sex marriages, no Communion for people in a same-sex union, and no funeral rites for unrepentant homosexuals, among other teachings.
“Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament,” stated the Bishop in his decree. “Consequently, 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…”
Rev. Paprocki’s decree gave instructions regarding five specific practices.
First, the bishop stated that no member of the clergy are to participate or in any manner be involved in a same-sex marriage ceremony. This includes abstaining from “providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges” for the purpose of a gay marriage.
The bishop also decreed that people involved in homosexual relationships are not to be given Holy Communion or funeral rites without first repenting.
He also added that people in same-sex relationships are not permitted to “serve in a public liturgical ministry.”
Rev. Paprocki said that children of homosexual parents may still be baptized, go through the process of Confirmation, and attend Catholic schools.
The bishop concluded his decree by writing, “I remind all who exercise ministry within the Church that while being clear and direct about what the Church teaches, our pastoral ministry must always be respectful, compassionate, and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in faith…”
Following Rev. Paprocki’s statement, DignityUSA, an organization representing LGBT Catholics, put out a statement decrying the bishop’s decree, calling it “mean-spirited and un-Christian in the extreme.”
“Bishop Paprocki’s Decree makes it very clear why so many LGBTQI people and their families feel unwelcome in the Catholic Church and why so many leave it,” said Christopher Pett, who is the incoming president of DignityUSA.
“Although some other bishops and dioceses have instituted similar policies in part, this document is mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme,” he said. “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.”
Now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gives Communion, the Eucharist, to a woman. (CNN.com)
“We note, by contrast, that Pope Francis has issued no such decree for the Catholic Church, and has in fact called for a much more pastoral and respectful approach to LGBTQI people, our families, and our relationships,” Pett said
DignityUSA’s executive director, Marianne Duddy-Burke, took a similar position.
“Along with many other Catholic leaders, members, and theologians, DignityUSA strongly opposes withholding our Church’s sacraments from anyone as punishment,” she said. “It is simply cruel and shameful to refuse burial or Communion to those who seek the grace and comfort that our Church offers at some of the most difficult moments of life.”
While Pope Francis has affirmed that same-sex relationships fall outside a biblical definition of marriage, he has urged the Catholic Church to be more accepting of gays and lesbians.
The Pope wrote in a paper last year that there mustn't be “unjust discrimination” against LGBT individuals, writing that “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws ... as if they were stones to throw at people's lives.”
"In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full idea of marriage,” affirmed Pope Francis.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which details the faith and morals every Catholic must accept, says of homosexuality, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’
"They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (2357)
Pope Francis in front of the Vatican. (Screenshot: YouTube)
Following the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable.
"Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again.”
“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children,” said the U.S. bishops. “The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.
“Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”