Bishop prohibits Catholics in same-sex unions from receiving Communion

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., is pictured in a 2010 photo. Bishop Paprocki has issued a decree that people in same-sex marriages should not present themselves for holy Communion nor can they receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick or have a Catholic funeral unless they “have given some signs of repentance.” CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield has issued a decree that people in same-sex marriages should not present themselves for holy Communion nor can they receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick or have a Catholic funeral unless they “have given some signs of repentance.”

The bishop said in the June 12 decree that no clergy or diocesan staff person or representative “is to assist or participate in the solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages, including providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events.”

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the union of one woman and one man. Canon law prohibits Catholic clergy from performing a marriage of two people of the same sex.

“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,” Bishop Paprocki said.

The decree was sent to priests, deacons, seminarians and diocesan staff, explaining that the norms on same-sex marriage and related pastoral issues it outlined are diocesan policy.

Bishop Paprocki also decreed that no Catholic facility or property is to be used for solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages or hosting receptions for such marriages. He said that no sacred vessels, vestments or liturgical books can be used in such cases.

The bishop advised pastors who are aware of someone in a same-sex marriage to address the issue privately, “calling them to conversion and advising them not to present themselves for holy Communion until they have been restored to communion with the church through the sacrament of reconciliation.”

The decree allows for children of Catholic parents publicly living in a same-sex marriage to receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, first Communion and confirmation. However, the decree said that a person living in a same-sex marriage cannot be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or be confirmed in the church “unless he or she has withdrawn from the objectively immoral relationship.”

Individuals in a same-sex marriage also will not be permitted to serve in any public liturgical ministry such as a reader or extraordinary minister of holy Communion, the decree said.

The bishop said that children of people in a same-sex marriage should not be deprived of admission to a Catholic school or catechetical or formation programs. He added that children in such programs will be “instructed according to the church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality in their fullness.”

Bishop Paprocki reminded those to whom the decree was addressed that anyone participating in ministry in the church must be “respectful, compassionate and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in faith.”

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Category: U.S. & World News

  • Cardinals 2018


  • Charles C.

    Interesting article, but doesn’t sound like the usual Catholic News Service writing. For whatever reason, they don’t provide the reactions “Catholic Leaders” have to the Bishop’s announcement. I suspect that many just want this to blow over as quickly as possible, as it puts them in a difficult position.

    Bishop Paprocki is simply saying that the teaching of the Catholic Church is clear and that he has a duty to defend it against a culture opposed to Church teaching. Courageous, muscular leadership in the face of an opposing culture is in the very highest tradition of the Church and needs to be applauded and encouraged. (And rewarded? Cardinal Paprocki?)

    There are people who call themselves Catholic but who don’t accept the clear teachings of the Church in matters of Faith and Morals. They have a higher allegiance, sexual self-expression. Who are they? Just a small selection of those who believe Bishop Paprocki is wrong includes:

    “Christopher Hale, who co-edits an online journal for young Catholics called Millennial, says the decree is out of touch with the church’s leadership and its teachings. ‘A church that excludes the LGBT community is a church without a future.'”

    (The Gates of Hell will not prevail against it, but angry Gays will destroy the Church?)

    And from Christopher Pett who is the incoming president of DignityUSA:

    “[T]his document is mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme. It systematically and disdainfully disparages us and our relationships. “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.”

    New Ways Ministries takes a similar line. Executive Director Francis DeBernardo said “Paprocki is an anomaly and is not in the mainstream of Catholic thought (with this decree).”

    Michael Sean Winters is a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter. He writes:

    “”I can’t imagine a cruder thing more at cross purposes with what the Holy Father is trying to do.” Winters says Paprocki’s decree is at odds with the message and tone of Francis’ document on family life, titled Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love.”

    (Well, then, what exactly is the Holy Father trying to do? I would expect that the entire Church would say “You must follow the established laws, but we’ll help you along the path.” Which is exactly what Bishop Paprocki proposes in his decree and follow up interviews.

    Winters claims that “privately, 95 percent of other bishops in the U.S. are reading [the decree] and are horrified. Even the ones who are pretty arch on same-sex marriage think this is too far.”

    (If that is true, and DeBernardo is correct in thinking that Bishop Paprocki is an anomaly outside of the mainstream, then the Church in the US as it currently exists may, barring God’s grace and mercy, be on it’s last legs. My own belief is that the Church will be reduced in size as it gains in strength of faith.)

    The Archdiocese of Chicago, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican have not commented on this yet.

  • Tammy Cyphs

    Sure, the church will take same sex couples money for Catholic school but won’t give them communion. No matter, bishops and the like aren’t credible or holy since the child abuse and cover ups. I’m sure they don’t represent Jesus.

    • Mark johnson

      The bishop is doing his job–upholding the teaching of the Catholic Church. If you follow “The Gospel According to [insert your name here]” then why do you care what the Catholic Church does? Just make up your own religion and be done with it–like the Lutherans (and every secular human) and stop complaining about a church you obviously don’t believe in.

      Us true Catholics are praying for you so, given the glorious mercy of Our Blessed Redeemer, you might actually avoid eternity in hell. I’m not gonna chance it. So, even if I think the Catholic Church is TOTALLY WRONG, I am STILL going to follow faithfully. This is just another of the many, MANY crosses I have to carry in order to follow my savior, Jesus Christ (most of those crosses are of my own making because I sin EVERY DAY–I hate it but I keep doing it).

      God Bless the courageous men and women who TRULY follow the church established by Jesus Christ instead of making up a “convenient” religion to justify their actions. Do you REALLY think YOU are wiser than 2,000 years of holy men and women who have fallen head-over-heels in love with Jesus? What a steaming pile of . . . pride.

      • Tammy Cyphs

        The old 2000 years can’t be wrong argument! Slavery lasted 2000 years and it wasn’t right so the 2000 years of “wise men” argument doesn’t work really. Besides, many Popes were adulterers and other things so not sure how they could dispense any religious direction? The vast majority of priests are gay but no communion for gay parishioners. Super Hypocritical. Pride, no, but a realization that the Church is about money and control. There aren’t any facts to support Heaven or Hell, just beliefs. Just because you believe I’ll go to Hell doesn’t make it so. Again, it really makes no difference what any bishop says since they don’t follow what the Bible says. If someone is born gay then they are going to Hell but not clergy who abused children? Doubtful…I’m guessing Hell is full of pedophile priests

        • Mark johnson

          I see you are quoting statistics from the annual “Make up numbers to make my point” survey. Good choice when the real data is totally opposite.

          P.S. Slavery is a lot older than 2000 years and it isn’t going away any time soon.

  • Stephen O`Gara

    This is a sad excuse for a bishop..AGAIN. Denying someone the sacraments and a funeral is abhorant to me. I would never deny communion to anyone who comes forward to receive the sacrament. I would not deny the right of a Christian to a Catholic funeral and burial. I wrote Bishop Paprocki and expressed my disdain for his policies. It has taken me years to come to what I believe is Jesus’ welcome to all! He responded and said that he would inform the archbishop of our correspondence. Little Miss Tattle Tale.
    Stephen O’Gara

    • Charles C.

      Would you break the laws of the Church? You’ve said you would grant the Sacraments to anyone who asks for them, but the Church doesn’t, and I’m referring to the Church as a whole, not just Bishop Paprocki.

      Maybe we can figure out where we differ and how we got there. Let me know with which of these statements we disagree:

      1.) The Sacraments of the Church were created, or begun, by Christ.
      2.) The Church has the duty of maintaining the Sacraments, their meaning, and their method of distribution.
      3.) The Bishop of a place is responsible for the distribution of the Sacraments.
      4.) In the case of Communion, anyone who is “unworthy,” or knows they are in a state of grave sin, endangers their soul by taking Communion.
      5.) The Church has always held, and still does hold, that sex outside of marriage is a grave sin.

      6.) To prevent unworthy reception of Communion and incurring further sin, and to prevent confusion among the Faithful, the Bishop may establish rules and procedures which are in conformity with Church teaching.
      7.) That’s what Bishop Paprocki has done.

  • M.C., ph.d.

    Didn’t know that priest/bishop had the power to call out sins of others and levy public punishment. This poor bishop has little sense of how his declarations proclaim his own homophobia. Pitiful. Makes me ashamed to be heterosexual catholic who sins. It’s a similar shame to having Trump be my President.

    • Charles C.

      I’m not sure I understand you. Jesus condemns various sins, so do the Popes. Bishops and Priests condemn sins, as does the Bible. So it would seem that Bishops do have the power to call out sins, it’s one of their jobs as shepherds.

      Public punishment is also within the purview of Popes and Bishops, although that’s not what Bishop Paprocki is doing here. The Bishop is simply saying that the rules of the Church concerning reception of the Sacraments are thus and so. He declared that he will follow those rules and expects everyone in his diocese to do the same. Objection?

      The comment on your belief that the Bishop is homophobic makes no sense to me even after multiple re-readings. Why do you think he’s afraid of homosexuals? Doesn’t it make far more sense to just accept what he said, that he opposes sex outside of marriage as the Church always has?

      • Michael P Nagell

        Let’s just bring back stoning. Keep up the perverted culture of male domination and priestly celabicy.
        Keep women shuttered from power. Letting in any light at all will reveal a Church governed by hysterical old men whose power is knitted together by superstition and fear. Wake up old men. No one is listening to you. Love is the greatest of these gifts. It wins in the end.

        • Charles C.

          Dear Michael P Nagell,

          Thanks for writing, but there seems to be some confusion. Bishop Paprocki’s decree doesn’t have anything to do with the complaints you mentioned, and some of your complaints don’t seem to follow in the real world.

          Is Pope Francis hysterical? Do you really expect a 25 year old Pope? Do you really believe that the Catholic Church is just “superstition and fear”? If that’s the case, please find a religion you are more comfortable in, if indeed you have any interest in religion at all.

          I’m also confused by your use of the word “Love.” Some use it to mean the feeling of strong attraction that a person has for someone or something. That, of course, is not how Christians see the word. Would you be so kind as to tell me what you mean when you use it?

          By the way, If you’re upset that the Bishop desires to firmly enforce the rules without flexibility, what will happen if the rules change to something you approve of? Will you attack bishops who firmly enforce those rules?

    • Ricardo Ramirez

      Poor? The law of the universe is to stay. You must prosper and go in peace do defend the right side. get back to what it is right.

  • DebraBrunsberg

    The saddest thing is seeing how many Catholics, including priests, Bishops and Cardinals, who are so clueless as to the basic teachings of our faith. When we have priests like fr. James Martin attacking the Bishop (as he takes a breath from his book tour extolling the virtues of homosexual marriage and relationships,) how can we expect the world to understand the Church, if the laity does not? What a great choice Martin is for Vatican communications. Thank you Pope Francis.

    The majority of Catholics do not believe in the real presence and that is understandable seeing the lack of reverence in our churches, so how do you really expect them to understand anything else? Satan has already won over a great portion of the people in this Country and he is obviously in our Church. I thank God for Bishop Paprocki and I am praying that as the Bishops meet, that they will be unified in correcting the serious errors that we see around us in the Church. These men are our shepherds and they will not just answer to the Lord for their own errors, but they will be responsible for every soul that they lead into error.

    For those who scream about this announcement, please realize that when you choose to live in ongoing sin and you not only revel in it, you expect others to embrace and assist you in it, you are placing yourself outside the Church community and the Sacraments. There is no absolution without repentance, so what has been declared by Bishop Paprocki is nothing more than plain Catholic Doctrine. We expect as Catholics, that we will be persecuted for our beliefs. What we are seeing now is the persecution by those who are supposedly members of the body of Christ. Ignorance is a choice. Following Christ and what He taught is a choice. Living in grave sin is a choice and all who do, regardless of the sin, should be aware of the consequences of those choices. Worrying about the earthly consequences is the least we need to worry about. it is the eternal consequences of souls that some of our leaders are worried about. We are all sinners and we all have to continually work to become the souls that will spend eternity with the Lord. Joining in with the secular world who have fallen into severe relativism is not the way to salvation. We have reached the point where Truth is hated and the enemy rules too many lives. Praying for more holy and courageous Bishops. Silence has cost too much already.

  • Ervin Miller

    There is an option for those folks who want to pick and choose (cafeteria catholics) the parts of doctrine they like and disregard what they don’t like. That option is to find a church that has a custom designed doctrine, or start your who religion, more power to you. As to the scripted use of homophobia, get over it, your just perpetuating a silly use of the word that doesn’t bother Catholics who are faithful to the catechism and the doctrine of the Catholic church.

    • Charles C.

      Dear Ervin Miller,

      Nice work identifying some key problems resulting in cafeteria Catholics. I would only add a couple to expand on your observations.

      “I recommend that my relatives send their college-bound children to secular colleges where they will have to fight for their faith, rather than to Catholic colleges where it will be stolen from them.”-The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

      Further, I would ask if the Faith is being presented forcefully and clearly? Perhaps not, in far too many homes, but is that a problem with the parents’ belief, or with their knowledge?

      Are parishes providing uncompromising teaching to parents and their children? Some are, some aren’t. Some parishes use the speech of politicians and lawyers to obfuscate issues and meanings;as an example look at the reporting in the Catholic Spirit of the recent convention of Catholic leaders. The convention seemed to thrive on “welcoming” and “peripheries,” words which can mean many different things.

      Our present Pope will be remembered for a good many things, including his expressed desire to help the poor; he will not, however, be remembered for clarity of expression. Confusion of speech and confusion of thought are close partners. Sometimes confused speech comes from confused thought, but it always results in confused thinking among the hearers. Strong faith doesn’t come from confusion.

  • Ervin Miller

    As I read the comments, I see we are all over the place. I’m 81 years of age and my perspective has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. First of all I’ve gotten over myself and recognize that the only thing I know for sure is that, based on all there is to know, I don’t know very much. I think Socrates made that quote several thousand years ago. The thing that has come abundantly clear to me, compare to time and eternity my life is barely a blip. And a few minutes after I die, I’ll be in a line for the final judgement, as promised by Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth. I’m shooting for eternal peace and joy with my creator. If I miss heaven on the first try, my goal is purgatory to clean up the lose ends. When we finally arrive at the judgement bench, we will know for sure, up or down. In my youth I thought ageing was timeless, sure was wrong about that idea. Before we know it we are old men and old a women, and the clock is running out. We’re at sudden death overtime. Oh, we are so finite, and all this bickering shall pass and and the supreme commander will have the final call. Something to think about.