Bishop Confronts “Catholic” Governor for Approving Civil Unions

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois is taking on the state’s “Catholic” governor who claimed his faith is what led him to support a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions.

CNA/EWTN News is reporting that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn may have vowed to sign off on the bill, but his bishop has no intentions of giving him a pass on this violation of Church teaching.

“If the Governor wishes to pursue a secular agenda for political purposes, that is his prerogative, for which he is accountable to the voters,” Bishop Paprocki said shortly after the contentious 61-52 vote in the state Senate.

“But if he wishes to speak as a Catholic, then he is accountable to Catholic authority and the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.”

The bishop referred to a comment the governor made to the Springfield Journal-Register in which he said “My religious faith animates me to support this bill.”

“He did not say what religious faith that would be,” Bishop Paprocki noted. “But it certainly is not the Catholic faith.”

During the months preceding the vote, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George as well as the Catholic Conference of Illinois spoke out in opposition of the law and the impact it could have on the Church’s work in adoption and foster care.

They also expressed their concerns about how the bill would diminish the status of marriage by granting most of its benefits to any two consenting adults, resulting in a substantially altered definition of what constitutes a “family.” In addition, they argued that the bill’s provisions in respect to religious liberty were too vague.

Robert Gilligan, Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, spoke to CNA about the new law, calling it “social engineering” and saying it would put America on a trajectory toward a European model in which adult romantic relationships have little or nothing to do with family or a lifetime commitment.

Although individuals might enjoy this lifestyle or even deem it a “right,” a culture cannot sustain itself by functionally equating such arrangements with marriage, he said. In time, societies that choose to diminish marriage in this way will inevitably face the effects of shrinking populations and family breakdown.

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