Last Friday in Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas Paprocki — the infamously homophobic bishop of Springfield, Illinois — spoke about marriage equality alongside LGBT rights hero Sr. Jeannine Gramick, providing the “con” to Sr. Gramick’s “pro.”
The event, called “Two Catholic Views of Gay Marriage,” was organized by author, journalist, and Catholicism expert Robert Blair Kaiser and hosted by Shadow Rock United Church of Christ. About 150 people — most of them pro-equality Catholics, and many of them parents of LGBT children — attended.
According to the National Catholic Reporter and Sr. Gramick’s New Ways Ministry, Paprocki was in attack mode from the very beginning, blasting the “gay activist lobby” in his opening remarks and callously citing the murder of Matthew Shepard as evidence of alleged pro-LGBT bias in the media:
Paprocki told the audience that the murder of his former church secretary, Mary Stachowicz, whose killer was a gay man, got little media attention compared to the 1998 homicide of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen killed in a hate crime. Paprocki said the power of the gay lobby and favorable media reaction accounted for the difference.
Take a couple deep breaths before continuing on — I know I needed to after reading such repugnant remarks. (Earth to Tommy: if you’re trying to come across as loving and compassionate, pretty much the worst thing you can do is verbally urinate on the grave of a hate crime victim. In fact, I’m pretty sure that makes you a vile human being.)
The prelate also warned the audience that if marriage equality is legalized, sexual activities like sadomasochism will be allowed too. (Earth to Tommy, volume II: those activities are already happening.) Bp. Paprocki condescended to Sr. Gramick, stating that her position was an “emotional” one while his position came from a place of “faith and reason.” “My position is not a question of anecdotal stories,” he said. (Earth to Tommy, volume III: seriously, turn down the smarmy misogyny.)
Sr. Gramick, by contrast, spoke about her personal change of heart on LGBT issues, which led to a decades-long career of challenging institutional Catholic bigotry, and about the widespread support for equality among lay Catholics.