Bringing Out the Heavy Spiritual Artillery on Gay Marriage

With Illinois set to give legal recognition to gay marriage, Bishop Paprocki of Springfield plans to do a public “Exorcism in Reparation”. Is this really the right move?

Brantly Millegan
19.11.2013 // PRINT



“It very likely is,” says Fr. Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius press and founding provost of Ave Maria University. “Appropriateness would depend to some extent on what takes place in the service.”

“Certainly homosexual unions are objectively gravely sinful. [...] [T]he most charitable thing a Christian can do is to help these people see the objective disorder in these unions. For a bishop to do so in the context of prayer and supplication could well be the most compassionate way to do that.”

Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington D.C. Fr. C. John McCloskey points out that prayers of reparation have also be done for abortion. “Similar prayers are at least offered yearly in reparation of Roe vs. Wade.”

Robert Fastiggi, professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and Vice President of the Mariological Society of America, says he thinks the misuse of Pope Francis by some legislators to justify supporting gay marriage may have been what inspired Bishop Paprocki to hold the service. “In this particular context, I think Bishop Paprocki might have been motivated to make use of this application of the Rite of Exorcism because some Catholic legislators in Illinois were invoking Pope Francis out of context to support same-sex marriage. The Bishop wanted to remind them and the faithful that Pope Francis, as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had referred to ‘the father of lies’ as the motivating force behind same-sex marriage.”

Fastiggi supports Bishop Paprocki’s plan but also expects the mainstream media to report on it unfairly. “I think this is a bold and courageous gesture of Bishop Paprocki, though I anticipate some segments of the secular media will twist this out of context and say that the Bishop is labeling people with same-sex attractions as ‘diabolical’. This, of course, is not what the Bishop intends. He reminds us to pray for God's mercy and forgiveness for those who fall into error or sin.”

Author John Zmirak agrees Bishop Paprocki’s plan is bold but doesn’t think it’ll win hearts. “I think Bishop Paprocki has chosen a powerful gesture, which will resonate spiritually with those who already believe. [But] what powerful gestures would help those who do not share the Church's vision of marriage?”

“That's really what [the Church] is about - reaffirming marriage, not condemning particular sins of the flesh, however grave. The worst threats to marriage come from the laxity of Catholics and their pastors - from marriages too carelessly contracted with deficient catechesis, marriages corrupted by the use of contraception, marriages easily (and often rightly) annulled because one or both parties entered with defective intent. Fixing those things, diocese by diocese, would make a much more powerful, though subtler, impact.”

Professor of History at the University of Dallas Thomas Jodziewicz thinks Bishop Paprocki’s citing of Pope Francis is important for helping people to understand Pope Francis correctly. “[T]o connect this... with Pope Francis will perhaps, ironically, help to dispel the illusions associated with his pastoral style….”

“[T]he pope’s pastoral posture is quite traditional, but always sensitive and prudential in its exercise: to hate the sin but to love the sinner. The modern translation, and preference, is to engage the latter and accordingly to privilege non-judgmentalism as to the former (how can I “force” my “values” on others, and “hate,” unless the action or words violate some modern, politically correct norm endorsed by our sophisticated public celebrities?).”

Fastiggi encourages Catholics to support Bishop Paprocki’s plan and wonders if other bishops may be quietly supportive. “I think we should join in spirit with Bishop Paprocki and the prayers of supplication on November 20, 2013. I don't anticipate many other bishops doing this in their dioceses, but I'm glad Bishop Paprocki is taking this initiative. I suspect many bishops also are happy he's doing this even if they might be reluctant to do this themselves.”


The following Aleteia Experts contributed to this article:

Robert Fastiggi is a professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, MI and and Vice President of the Mariological Society of America.

Fr. Joseph Fessio is a Catholic priest of the Jesuit order and the founder and editor of Ignatius Press. He was the founding provost of Ave Maria University until March 2007.

Thomas Jodziewicz is a Professor of History at the University of Dallas.

Fr. C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington DC. His personal website is www.frmccloskey.com.

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived at The Bad Catholic’s Bingo Hall.

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