The main question about the exorcism rite being used to combat gay marriage is whether the same measures were taken to combat clergy abuse.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) November 15, 2013
The Paprocki show has now come and gone. In case readers still want to read commentary about it, here's a selection of articles about the event that have caught my attention during the past several days.
About the show itself, Dave McKinney reports for Chicago Sun-Times, noting the following curious detail:
In an unusual use of public services, the exorcism included two armed Springfield police officers stationed inside the church vestibule where parishioners entered from the street. At one point during the service, one of the officers strode to the front of the church, though his purpose was unclear. There were no disruptions during the hourlong event.
The Sun-Times's editorial about the event three days ago says the following:
It’s always a good day when our elected officials get their marching orders from their consciences and their constituents, not from their religious leaders — be they Catholic, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise.
For New Ways Ministry, Frances DeBernardo writes,
Having failed in the political process, the bishop now is trying to encourage fear by evoking a medieval ritual which no longer is taken seriously by most Catholics. This tactic is similar to Ted Cruz’ attempt to hijack the Affordable Care Act by closing down the government. Everyone loses in a situation like that, but the biggest losers are those who use false methods to stir up fear and confusion. Such extremist tactics reveal the weakness of their ability to connect with people through more rational and humane means.
Yesterday morning before the exorcism ceremony took place, Pam Spano observed for Chicago Tribune's Chicago Now website,
What this comes down to is evil. If we believe that evil can affect someone and make them commit acts against God, we better all be on our knees praying and not just for homosexuals. Our top priority should be praying for priests who commit acts of abuse against children, young adults and even consenting adults.
Also on the morning of the event, Caryn Riswold announced on her feminismxtianity blog,
I plan on celebrating this milestone today, despite the fact that Springfield is geographically closer to me and the bishop’s actions continue to command our local attention. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to write about Bishop Paprocki several times in the past year . . . .
Christina Traina writes for Chicago Sun-Times,
As Gov. Pat Quinn prepares to sign a marriage equality bill on Wednesday, Catholic prelates continue to offer unnecessarily stinging words to gays and lesbians.
In the Chicago Tribune, Manya Brachear Pashman states,
Thousands of opponents have signed a petition saying the ritual is anything but healing. The petition, circulated by a group called Faithful America, calls on Paprocki to cancel the "political stunt."
Prior to the event, the Rainbow Sash Movement challenged the bishops of Illinois under the leadership of Cardinal George to condemn the tawdry partisan political use of an ancient rite designed to serve other ends:
We call on Cardinal Francis George and the Illinois Conference of Catholic Bishops, to condemn this Bishop's abuse of the ancient rite of Exorcism, to achieve political ends. It is quite obvious to most reasonable people that Pope Francis has decided to focus on love and compassion, and speak to and of the poor and disadvantaged constantly contrary to what Paprocki says.
And for Washington Post, Timothy Villareal wonders why the U.S. Catholic bishops have chosen to treat abortion and same-sex marriage as two prongs of a partisan political strategy, and to use Catholic symbols, rituals, and sacraments to promote their political agenda--when the two moral issues are entirely separate from each other:
The Catholic bishops of the United States are attempting to make their own conflation of two polar opposite issues, abortion and homosexuality, a permanent feature of American Catholic prayer life. And they are using the Blessed Sacrament, the body of Jesus, to do so. To me, this is despicable.
My conclusion: it's easy to ridicule what is inherently ridiculous--the slinging around of holy water as cell phones go off in a packed cathedral, the mumbling of Latin mumbo-jumbo designed to surround noxious political agendas with glittering magic. But what's at stake in Paprocki's stunt is the question of the very heart of an ancient Christian church, whose message has been so debased, so bastardized, so politicized by people exhibiting no heart at all for some years now, that hordes of thinking, conscientious human beings now hold that ancient Christian church in abhorrence.
And with good reason. Paprocki disingenuously informed those attending his political rally yesterday that he and the church love them some gays. But for years now, the Catholic hierarchy has told us it's doing everything in its power to block the right of same-sex couples to marry because gay sex is non-procreative . . . .
while a majority of married heterosexual Catholic couples in the developed sectors of the world practice contraception. Which thwarts procreation. And no exorcism rituals, no holy water and Latin mumbo-jumbo, are aimed in the direction of those couples.
It's all about targeting a vulnerable minority group for political purposes, to serve the agenda of one of the two major political parties in the U.S. This is ugly and unChristian behavior. It's immoral behavior. It harms real human beings, many of whom are members of the families being urged in Catholic parishes to fight against the human rights of their own family members.
This behavior may still play in places like Peoria and Springfield and countless other communities across the U.S., but it's now increasingly seen as dysfunctional--and as downright evil--by many other citizens of the nation as a whole. And clear indicators tell us that the demographic shift that is causing increasing numbers of Americans to view gross attacks on the humanity of their gay family members and friends as repulsively immoral will continue, and the movement to accord basic human rights to gay people in this country will finally succeed.
The price the U.S. bishops are paying for the unsightly political showmanship of Bishop Paprocki (and Cardinal George) and many of their fellow bishops is a high price, indeed, and it will grow steeper. The silence of their brother bishops as bishops like Paprocki bring shame on their episcopal confreres--and on the whole church--is shameful in the extreme.