Tagged: Thomas Paprocki

Pro-LGBT Catholics Confront Anti-Gay Bishop

JeannineGramickLast 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.

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IL Catholic Bishop Has a Valentine’s Day Message About Marriage Equality

thomas_paprockiProving once again that Catholic leaders have no qualms about shamelessly hijacking celebrations of love in order to attack LGBT people, Springfield, Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki decided that the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday — the same day the Illinois Senate plans to pass a marriage equality bill — would be a perfect time to trivialize the relationships and marriages of loving, committed same-sex couples.

In a display of stunning arrogance, Paprocki issued a statement yesterday in which he likens the fight against marriage equality to the way early Christians resisted persecution in 3rd-century Rome. And he even goes so far as to claim the mantle of martyrdom, likening St. Valentine’s priestly service to the early church (which ultimately cost him his life) to the modern-day Catholic Church’s unholy crusade to preserve marriage discrimination:

paprocki_statement_valentine

See that? In the Gospel According to Paprocki, it is literally impossible for “sinful” same-sex relationships to be based on love (“Love never encourages sin or leads a person further into sin, but seeks instead to help others live a holy life.“); marriage equality is harmful “as known by reason” (read: “Because I said so,” since there is literally no evidence to support this tired, baseless claim); and Catholics who do support, promote, and/or vote for equal marriage are “against” the Church and harming “the common good of society.” Oh, and in case anyone wonders what real love looks like for gays and lesbians — since, you know, they’re utterly incapable of feeling it towards each other — it involves suppressing your sexuality and closing yourself off to meaningful romantic companionship forever.

Amen. Happy Valentine’s Day!

H/t: Jeremy

Catholic Bishops Politicize the Pulpit Ahead of Election

Over the last several months, America’s Catholic bishops have noticeably stepped up their efforts to get Catholic souls to the polls for next week’s election. Those efforts, though, have hardly been bipartisan. Despite the Catholic Church’s status as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) religious group, the bishops have made it abundantly clear that they want their flock to vote Republican, and they’ve shown themselves more than willing to Thumbnail image for separation_church_state.jpgresort to spiritual blackmail and hysterical rhetoric to convince Catholics to do just that.

The most recent example is Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, Illinois. Earlier this year he delivered a homily in which he compared President Obama to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and accused him of pushing a “radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda.” Yesterday, Jenky’s office issued a letter claiming that Catholics who “callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb” (i.e. vote for political candidates who believe that women have a right to make reproductive decisions for themselves, rather than their churches or their governments deciding for them) are “[rejecting] Jesus as their Lord” and “objectively guilty of grave sin.”

And he commanded his letter to be read at Mass this weekend by every priest in every parish in the Diocese of Peoria, calling upon the priests’ vow of obedience to him in order to compel them to do so.

Hmmmm, I wonder whether Daniel Jenky wants the Catholics of central Illinois to vote Democratic or Republican?

Bishop David Laurin Ricken entered the fray last week, informing the over 300,000 members of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin that voting for candidates whose positions contradict any so-called “non-negotiables” of Catholic teaching (including abortion rights and marriage equality) “could put [one's] soul in jeopardy.” Like Jenky, Ricken ordered churches to distribute his message, but he arguably tiptoed even further towards an overt GOP endorsement.

The prelate wrote [pdf]:

Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform. To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally “complicit” with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.

Three items on Ricken’s list of so-called “non-negotiables” – reproductive choice, stem cell research, and marriage equality – can be found in the official 2012 Democratic Party Platform. Hmmmm, I wonder whether David Ricken wants the Catholics of northeastern Wisconsin to vote Democratic or Republican?

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a neighbor of Jenky’s in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, also joined the ecclesiastical chorus, recording a video message in which he specifically pointed out what he called the “intrinsic evils” in the Democratic Party platform – you guessed it: choice and marriage equality – and then implied, in language remarkably similar to Ricken’s, that casting one’s vote for a Democratic candidate threatens one’s eternal soul:

“…a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

Hmmmm, which party do you think Paprocki wants his flock to vote for?

For the record, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has strongly condemned the Paul Ryan budget – which passed the Republican-controlled House earlier this year – as a moral failure. But never mind that. Policing women’s uteri and excluding loving same-sex couples from marriage is clearly more important.

Speaking of marriage, bishops in states voting on marriage next week have spiritually bullied their congregants every bit as shamelessly as their brothers.

Perhaps the most notorious example is Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has campaigned vigorously for the passage of a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment in Minnesota. He injected a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Mass, ordered his priests to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes – at parish expense – for the express purpose of drumming up support for the amendment, attempted to silence any dissenters within the clerical ranks, mandated marriage discrimination lectures in Catholic schools across the archdiocese, and caused pro-equality lay employees to fear for their jobs.

Nienstedt’s colleague in Seattle, Archbishop Peter Sartain, recently posted a video message in which he ominously warned that society “would be harmed beyond repair” if the people of Washington vote to uphold the state’s marriage equality law. And some Catholic bishops extend their anti-LGBT attacks far beyond marriage – Omaha, Nebraska Archbishop George Lucas is leading the charge to repeal the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, and the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, backed out of a real estate agreement this summer after it found out the buyers were a gay couple, possibly violating state law in the process. (For a more exhaustive list of anti-gay activities from U.S. Catholic leaders, please refer to this list I compiled last month.)

It should be noted, however, that most rank-and-file Catholics hold very different opinions on women’s rights and LGBT rights than the ones pushed by their leaders. Nearly three-fourths of them support civil marriage equality for same-sex couples. Over 80 percent of American Catholics believe birth control is morally acceptable, and a clear majority say that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should be required to provide contraception coverage in employee health insurance plans.

But none of that appears to matter very much to America’s Catholic bishops, because they’re practically tripping over themselves to crawl into bed with the GOP. Why, you ask?

Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that the 2012 Republican Party platform is the most right-wing, anti-woman, anti-LGBT platform in modern history. Because if we know one thing, it’s that the leadership of the Catholic Church will stop at nothing to block the rights of women and LGBT people, even if it means harming the poor, labor unions, and the environment in the process.

How profoundly sad.

Originally posted at the Bilerico Project.

TWO Condemns Illinois Bishop For Implying that Catholics Must Vote Republican or Go to Hell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 28, 2012

Contact: John Becker, Director of Communications
Phone: 920.265.6023
Email: john@truthwinsout.org

Truth Wins Out Condemns Illinois Bishop For Implying that Catholics Must Vote Republican or Go to Hell

Politicization of the Catholic Pulpit in an Election Year is Alarming, Says TWO

 

Bthomas_paprockiURLINGTON, Vt – Truth Wins Out slammed Springfield, Illinois Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki today after the prelate released a video message in which he implied that, because the Democratic Party is pro-choice and supports marriage equality, casting one’s vote for a Democratic candidate threatens one’s eternal soul. After specifically pointing out what he called the “intrinsic evils” endorsed by the Democratic Party platform, the prelate told his flock, “…a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

“We are incredibly alarmed by the blatant politicization of the Catholic pulpit in this election year,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out. “The bishops are trying to turn Catholic parishes into political precincts.”

“This is a contemptible and transparent attempt by Bishop Paprocki to use fear to bully and manipulate Catholics into voting for the GOP,” added John Becker, TWO’s Director of Communications. “It’s incredibly clear: in their crusade against the civil rights of LGBT people, the American Catholic bishops have essentially jumped into bed with the Republican Party in a truly unholy alliance.”

TWO also questioned the timing of Bp. Paprocki’s video as it became public just 40 days before the November elections, at a time when political campaigning has reached a fever pitch.

“Bishop Paprocki’s timing is dubious and highly questionable,” said Besen. “It’s hard to believe that the release of such a video so close to the election happened by chance. If there is indeed a concerted effort on the part of Catholic bishops to meddle in election-year politics, the Church needs to be investigated for repeatedly violating its tax-exempt status.”

Paprocki’s video is just the latest in a long string of anti-gay activities on the part of Catholic leaders:

  • The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, is sending out a letter to every Catholic household in that state, asking them to vote yes on a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment on the ballot this November and urging them to donate money to the main group working to ensure its passage. Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt has also injected a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Mass, ordered his priests to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes – at parish expense – for the express purpose of drumming up support for the amendment, attempted to silence any dissenters within the clerical ranks, mandated marriage discrimination lectures in Catholic schools across the archdiocese, and caused pro-equality lay employees to fear for their jobs. In 2010, the Catholic Conference mailed an anti-gay DVD to all 400,000 Catholic households in Minnesota.
  • Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska recently sent a letter to every parish priest in his diocese in which he gave them permission to devote parish time and resources to an anti-LGBT group that’s gathering signatures in order to force a referendum on Omaha’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance, with the goal of overturning the law.
  • In a recent interview with the Los Angeles TimesSalvatore Cordileone, archbishop-elect of San Francisco, said that gay and lesbian Catholics in sexual relationships of any kind should not present themselves for the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
  • Newark, New Jersey Archbishop John Myers equated same-sex marriage with incest in a pastoral statement earlier this week, saying that Catholics who support marriage equality are unfit to partake in the Eucharist and should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.”
  • Last Sunday Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who came under fire last year for comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan, used his homily at a Mass celebrating couples’ golden anniversaries to take a swipe at marriage equality and trivialize the relationships and marriages of loving, committed same-sex couples, characterizing them as merely “friendships.”
  • Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, recently posted a video message in which he ominously warned that society “would be harmed beyond repair” if voters in Washington upheld that state’s marriage equality law in the November election.
  • This summer, the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts backed out of a real estate agreement after it found out the buyers were a gay couple, possibly violating state law in the process.
  • Catholic high schools and universities now routinely rescind speaking invitations to LGBT people and even straight allies.
  • Pope Benedict XVI endorsed the American bishops’ anti-LGBT efforts in an address at the Vatican in March.
  • Also in March, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento de-funded a local nonprofit agency serving that city’s homeless population after finding out that the agency’s newly-hired (non-Catholic) director supports marriage equality.
  • Earlier this year, a Catholic priest in Maryland denied a lesbian woman communion at her mother’s funeral.
  • An openly gay music teacher at a St. Louis-area Catholic school was fired in February after an archdiocesan official overheard him talking with co-workers about his upcoming New York wedding to his partner of nearly twenty years.
  • In November, Dan Avila, then serving as the USCCB’s “Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family,” resigned in disgrace after TWO and many other groups condemned him for writing that homosexuality was caused by Satan entering the wombs of pregnant mothers and messing with their hormones.
  • Last year, as lawmakers in New York debated a marriage equality law, now-Cardinal Timothy Dolan equated allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style communist dictatorship and compared marriage equality with incest and polygamy. After the law passed, Dolan complained that he had been tricked by pro-equality politicians and claimed that churches in his diocese were being threatened with lawsuits intended to force them to perform same-sex weddings, despite the fact that New York’s marriage equality law explicitly prohibits such suits.

“It is the height of arrogance for prelates like Bp. Thomas Paprocki to use the power of the pulpit for partisan political purposes,” said Becker. “A church that protected pedophile priests has no moral authority whatsoever to condemn LGBT people or their healthy, adult relationships, nor does it have the right to order Catholics to vote to support anti-gay oppression.”

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a nonprofit organization whose goal it is to create a world where LGBT people can live openly, honestly, and true to themselves. TWO monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their lies, and exposes their leaders. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating, and fighting for LGBT equality.

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Originally written for and posted at Truth Wins Out.