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Bishop plans gay marriage 'exorcism'
by Matt Simonette

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Bishop Thomas Paprocki announced Nov. 14 that he will offer "prayers of supplication and exorcism" at approximately the same time Gov. Pat Quinn will sign marriage equality into law next week.

The ceremony will be held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on the afternoon of Nov. 20, while Quinn signs SB10 at the UIC Forum in Chicago.

In a statement, Paprocki said, "since same-sex marriage is contrary to the plan of God …those who contract civil same-sex marriage are culpable of serious sin." The prayers for "Supplication and Exorcism Which May Be Used in Particular Circumstances of the Church" are drawn from the Appendices to the 2004 Latin edition of the Rite of Exorcism.

Paprocki also said Illinois lawmakers who supported gay marriage were "morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin." He was especially harsh in denouncing Catholic politicians such as House Speaker Michael Madigan and Quinn.

"It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church," he said. "All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation. We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church."

Joe Murray of Rainbow Sash Movement called Paprocki a "hysterical and fearful man."

"The bishops across the country are getting their butts kicked over the gay marriage issue," said Murray. "So you'll see more stunts like this, and it's going to make the church into a laughingstock. We're not back in the Middle Ages. Exorcism is a sacred rite. It should not be used for a political end."

"As a Roman Catholic who takes communion, I am completely embarrassed," added Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda.

"There are people who may support this, but they're not mainstream," he added. "When you look at the polling, both locally and nationally, Roman Catholics largely support matters of equality for the LGBT community. …What he is doing is not going to curry favor with the decision makers in Rome."

Dignity/Chicago, an advocacy organization for LGBT Catholics, said in a statement Nov. 18 saying it was "perplexed and disappointed" by Paprocki's announcement.

"We are concerned about the real harm this latest action is causing for LGBT Catholics and our families. Young children are now hearing that their parents and families are evil and require an official act of a senior church leader to drive out that evil," says Chris Pett, past Dignity/Chicago president and spokesperson. "Paprocki's actions also negate and disrespect the voices of many thousands of Catholics across the state which have been raised in support of marriage equality and the families of LGBT people."

Meanwhile, also at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in Springfield, the Rev. Martin Woulfe of Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation will be offering a public prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of lesbian and gay couples that will soon be able to marry.

Woulfe said that before the prayers, the church will hold a screening of the signing ceremony, which is being streamed live. The event is intended as thanks to the activists and legislators who made the successful SB10 vote possible.

The remarks from Poprocki have been consistent with the bishop's theology in recent years, Woulfe added. So he takes consolation in his own church having an opportunity to show a commitment to fairness and social justice.

"No one church has a monopoly on truth, nor a monopoly on ethics or morals," Woulfe said.

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