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Bishop Thomas Paprocki on The World Over with Raymond ArroyoEWTN/YouTube screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) – Two U.S. bishops fired back at Cardinal Robert McElroy again on Thursday, responding to his latest heterodox essay in America magazine and warning of the dangers that his errors pose to the faithful.

In an interview with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, renewed their criticism of McElroy’s views on the Eucharist and sexuality, which they stressed contradict immutable Catholic teaching.

McElroy, the bishop of San Diego and a favorite of Pope Francis, has sparked outrage in recent weeks with a series of articles, interviews, and lectures attacking Catholic doctrine on the gravity of sexual sin and demanding that the Church let “LGBT persons” and divorced and “remarried” couples receive the Eucharist while in mortal sin.

Several U.S. bishops have publicly rebuked McElroy, and Bishop Paprocki said in an essay for First Things on Tuesday that the cardinal promoted “heresy” and may have excommunicated himself.

READ: Bishop Paprocki accuses Cardinal McElroy of ‘heresy,’ says he may have excommunicated himself

But McElroy doubled down on his heretical views in another article in America on Thursday, explicitly calling for the Church to give the Eucharist to “sexually active” homosexuals and adulterers.

Eucharistic coherence is ‘in the Word of God’

Speaking with Arroyo, Bishop Paprocki, a canon lawyer and chairman-elect of the Church governance committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reaffirmed that excluding mortal sinners from Communion is a matter of divine revelation.

The idea that someone can receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin violates “the Word of God,” he said, pointing to the St. Paul’s admonition in the First Letter to the Corinthians:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (1 Cor 11:27-30).

“Now, we call that these days sacrilege, that someone who receives Holy Communion while conscious of grave sin and without going to Confession is committing a sacrilege,” the bishop said. Sacrilegious Communion, he warned, compounds a mortal sin “by creating another sin.”

“And so, the suggestion being put forth here that we shouldn’t pay attention to that whole question about repentance before receiving Holy Communion if you are conscious of grave sin, that’s really rejecting something that has been part of the Church’s teaching for the last 2,000 years going all the way back to St. Paul,” he continued. 

Bishop Paprocki underscored that the Church “absolutely” does not have the power to reverse teachings from the Apostolic Age, including on sexual morality.

Though many dissident Catholics today point to the term “development of doctrine,” he noted that doctrinal development never means “overturning a doctrine.”

“You can’t have [that] we suddenly discovered that, you know, there are four persons in the Trinity and not three. I mean, that could never happen,” the Springfield prelate said. “The development of Doctrine is where we get to a deeper and richer understanding of something has been a defined teaching of the Church for the last 2,000 years.”

He also reiterated that the penalty for heresy is automatic excommunication, even for private heresy. “If you know in your heart that you reject Church teaching you basically put yourself outside of the Church,” he said.

McElroy promotes ‘fundamental option’ heresy

On The World Over, Bishop Paprocki again accused McElroy of trying to the revive the discredited “fundamental option” theory, which holds that individual mortal sins do not necessarily separate a person from God. 

“Cardinal McElroy has written in his article in America that he would like to to see less emphasis being put on sexual sins, that a single sexual sin should not necessarily be considered as a mortal sin, and therefore as prohibiting someone from going to Holy Communion unless they repent and and receive absolution,” he said.

That line of thinking is “basically going back to a teaching that was famous or very popular in the 60s and 70s, even in the seminaries, that we call the fundamental option,” he explained.

Pope St. John Paul II condemned the fundamental option theory in Veritatis Splendor, and the Council of Trent declared as a dogma that the faithful are “cut off from the grace of Christ” by each mortal sin.

Bishop Paprocki also criticized McElroy for promoting a “false dichotomy” in his latest article by suggesting that doctrine conflicts with “pastoral theology.”

“I don’t think you can make that distinction … that somehow dogma or the doctrines of the Church are separate from the pastoral practice or the law of the Church,” he told Arroyo.

We canon lawyers don’t sit around and just make up laws. The laws of the Church are based on theology. So, the passage from First Corinthians, for example, that I referred to earlier from St. Paul, really sets out the whole notion of Eucharistic coherence, and so the Church’s teachings as found in canon 915 and canon 916 about receiving Holy Communion, they stem from the teaching of St. Paul.

Canons 915 and 916 state that those who are “persevering in manifest grave sin” must be denied Communion and that anyone conscious of having committing a mortal sin must refrain from Communion. “To say, well, if you invoke canon 915 or 916, you’re just being legalistic, no, you’re going back to what the Church has taught in that regard,” Bishop Paprocki said.

And while he affirmed that people “should be welcomed into the Church,” he added that “the question is what are they being welcomed to and how are they being included.”

“I think it’s important to note that Jesus’s first words in his public ministry were ‘Repent and believe in the good news.’ He starts with ‘repent,’ not with ‘welcome,’” the bishop said. “We do want people to come in, but we also then want them to come in not on our terms, but on Christ’s terms.”

READ: Two more bishops condemn Cdl. McElroy’s attack on Catholic moral teaching

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Liberal bishops around the world continue promoting heterodox views on homosexuality, female priests, divorce, contraception, and more — advancing anti-Catholic positions that jeopardize the salvation of souls.

Such bishops often sideline, ignore and even persecute traditional Catholics who simply ask that the Faith be preserved and passed on to their children.

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‘We’re past the point of trying to do private communications’

Asked why he didn’t simply correct McElroy in private, Bishop Paprocki stressed the importance of publicly challenging heretical statements of fellow bishops for the sake of the faithful. 

I think we’re past the point of trying to do private communications about what is being said here because these are very public statements that are being made and if they’re not challenged publicly then I think the faithful who are reading this, all they see are the questionable statements being put out there, and they don’t know about any private communications going on here, and they think well, if nobody is correcting these public statements, well then maybe they’re all right.

To that end, he urged bishops and theologians to speak up against heresies in the Church, especially in relation to the “synodal process”:

I think we’re in a very difficult moment in the Church right now, because we do have things that are being put out there that are, frankly, just contrary to Church teaching and the life of the Church as it has been lived for almost 2,000 years now, and that’s why I think it’s important for bishops to speak out and for theologians and others in the Church to speak out about what is the teaching of the Church, what is the correct understanding of the Church, and not to be suggesting that somehow this is all up for grabs and can be overturned by a synodal process.

Archbishop Naumann: ‘The stakes are too high to be to be silent on this’

Raymond Arroyo on Thursday also interviewed Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who rebuked Cardinal McElroy last month for his heterodox stance on sexual morality.

The Kansas prelate wrote in a February 10 column that McElroy promoted “a most serious and dangerous error” by suggesting that “the Church for 2,000 years has exaggerated the importance of her sexual moral teaching” and that so-called “radical inclusion supersedes doctrinal fidelity.”

READ: Kansas archbishop slams Cdl. McElroy for attacking Catholic teaching on sexuality

“The column was originally written for the people of my archdiocese,” he explained to Arroyo. “I have a responsibility to protect them from confusion about these basic teachings.”

“I think we have to be very clear on this, because without that clarity, our young people, particularly, are vulnerable to fall into this confusion that this sexual immorality isn’t all that harmful. And it’s extremely harmful,” he said.

“I don’t like correcting another bishop or certainly a cardinal on this, but I think the stakes are too high to be silent on this.”

Cardinal McElroy’s premise in his latest America article that centuries-old Catholic teaching has been wrong is “not an acceptable answer,” Archbishop Naumann continued. “I agree with him that we need to have pastoral outreach to all of these groups of people, but that’s not the same as saying then we compromise our moral teaching.”

Sexual sin is ‘destructive’

The archbishop noted that he grew up in the 1960s, which “was a time of great moral confusion,” including in the Church. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI spent decades trying to correct it, he said, but some voices “now are trying to re-insert this confusion amongst people.”

“And as I note in the article, to my mind there are many, many victims of the Sexual Revolution, and why we would want to go back to that state of confusion, to me, I think is a terrible direction for the Church to go,” he said.

God gives us doctrine and laws “for our protection,” Archbishop Naumann added, “and I think we can see all around us the victims of this when we depart from those moral teachings, and we see it in our culture and society today.”

He repeatedly emphasized the harmfulness of sexual sin, especially homosexuality, and lamented that lack of emphasis on the danger of sodomy worsened the AIDS crisis. 

“We have to be clear on the actions themselves and and that they are harmful, they are destructive, and again I think we see that in our society today, the hook-up culture has not served us well,” he said. “During the AIDS epidemic, I think we really failed … those that have same-sex attraction by not being clear on just the public health danger that they were inflicting on themselves, and many died because we weren’t clear in that teaching.”

“We don’t help others by encouraging them in behaviors that are are harmful and sinful.”


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