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Bishop Holds 'Minor Exorcism' Over Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki meets the press
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Minutes after Gov. Pat Quinn made gay marriage legal in Illinois, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield began a prayer service in response. Tuesday's service was formally called a prayer of “exorcism.” But the ceremony was more subdued than that dramatic word might suggest.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki was methodical, even dispassionate, as he led at least 200 of the faithful in prayer.

Speaking in Latin, he began: “Exorcizo te, omnis immune spiritus” — “I exorcize you, every unclean spirit.”

He was careful to point out this was a “minor exorcism,” not suggesting demonic possession like in a Hollywood movie, but rather what he says are "influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture."

The bishop says politicians who helped enact same-sex marriage are "morally complicit" in facilitating a "grave sin.” And yet, he declined to criticize individuals by name, including the Catholic governor.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS
While critical of politicians who support same-sex marriage, Paprocki declined to discuss them individually. The governor, House speaker, and Senate president are all Catholic.

“I really don’t want to get into a discussion with him through the media," he said. "We’ll talk to each other on the appropriate occasions."

Paprocki acknowledges the church might be out of step with the trend in society. But he points out the Catholic Church has its roots 2,000 years ago in the Roman Empire, and had to wait centuries before it could work with governments. “So for the church to be counter-cultural is not necessarily anything new for us," he said.

Paprocki also reiterated church teaching that gays and lesbians "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."

At the end of the service, the bishop walked the aisles, sprinkling congregants with holy water. The cathedral was silent — until someone’s cell phone began ringing.

Another intrusion of modern life on sacred tradition.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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