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Media Slams Courageous Bishop for Loyalty to Church

bishop paprockiCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

The mainstream media is once again maligning a good and courageous bishop simply because he published a decree stating that persons involved in same-sex relationships cannot receive communion or serve on the altar, nor can they be given a Catholic funeral if they do not repent before death.

The State Journal-Register published a disparaging article about Springfield, Illinois Bishop Thomas John Paprocki a week ago after he issued a decree pertaining to same-sex “marriage” and other related pastoral issues. In the decree, the bishop enunciated long-standing Church policy on same-sex marriage and gave common-sense guidelines on how this should be applied in parishes.

For example, no priest or other person acting as a representative of the diocese can officiate or participate in a same-sex marriage. Those persons who are involved in same-sex unions cannot receive Communion or serve on the altar as an Extraordinary Minister or lector, nor can they sponsor a child for Baptism or Confirmation. At the time of death, they can receive viaticum and a Catholic funeral only if they show repentance for their sins before dying.

None of this is news to Catholics who are educated in their faith, but there are too many who are not as well-versed, which is why it wasn’t too hard for the mainstream media to find people to object to the policy with the usual secular arguments of it being “mean-spirited” and “too exclusive.”

For example, the Journal-Register quotes a man named John Freml, a Catholic who is living in a same sex marriage. Freml is a member of the dissident groups, Call to Action and Equally Blessed (which is a coalition of four pro-gay activist groups, Call to Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families and New Ways Ministry.)

Freml claims he came back to the church after being away. “Then I see something like this,” he complained. “All this is going to do is (potentially) drive me away, if this is enforced. If we’re pushed out, where do we go?”

He claims he’s been a parishioner at a local parish where he has “never been denied communion” there by a priest or an extraordinary minister.

journal register“There’s obedience to the bishop, but there’s a call from the church and community to be inclusive. It puts priests and other church workers in a difficult position,” he says.

Next, the Journal-Register turned to a leader of the "Catholic" dissident group, New Ways Ministry.

“Paprocki is an anomaly and is not in the mainstream of Catholic thought (with this decree),” said Francis DeBernado, executive director of the Maryland-based group.

Brian Johnson, chief executive officer of the gay activist group, Equality Illinois, was also called upon to slam the bishop.

″(Paprocki) has chosen to be exclusive and rejecting (of LGBT Catholics. This is someone the church has placed in a position to care for his flock. We find it heartbreaking what he’s done.”

There was not a single voice in favor of Paprocki included in this shamefully one-sided article. The only source they reached out to was the Diocese which issued a statement explaining that the decree was issued “in light of changes in the law and in our culture” regarding same-sex marriage, which the Catholic Church opposes. It rightfully added that 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.”

That’s as far as they went to look for any other people who could lend some balance to the article. Instead, they interview six sources who oppose and only one source in favor and this is supposed to be balanced journalism?

Not even close. Especially when you consider that Paprocki has plenty of supporters that they could have called for a quote, such as Catholic League president Bill Donohue who published a brilliant op-ed in support of the bishop’s decree.

“Instead of being condemned, he should be commended,” Donohue writes.

“From time immemorial, the whole world knew that it was objectively impossible for two people of the same sex to marry—they cannot procreate nor can they act as natural surrogates to children who have lost their father and mother—but that has recently changed in some quarters of civil society. It has not changed in the Catholic Church.”

He adds: “Notice that Bishop Paprocki did not rule against homosexuals and lesbians. Indeed, in a statement clarifying his decree, Bishop Paprocki said, ‘People with same-sex attraction are welcome in our parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we repent our sins and pray for God to keep us in His grace’.”

As for denying Catholic funerals to people, the Church isn’t singling out the LGBTQ community. It denies these funerals to “manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful,” Canon law explains.

“The issue is not gays—it is ‘manifest sinners’ who are giving ‘public scandal to the faithful'," Donohue writes. "That would include the mafia, as well as those of the same sex who claim to be married.”

“Bishop Paprocki wants to offer clarity to the faithful on Church teachings. That is his job and he does it exceedingly well. We are lucky to have him.”

But as we all know, the Journal-Register wouldn’t dare include these comments in their article because that would utterly destroy their anti-Catholic narrative.

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