SPRINGFIELD, IL, November 22, 2013 ( – As Governor Pat Quinn signed a law making Illinois the 16th state to legally redefine marriage to include same-sex couples Tuesday afternoon, the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Springfield held a rare public exorcism to pray for God to cast out the influences of evil in the state.

The service, held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, was called “Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.” It was performed by Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who, in announcing the special event, called gay “marriage” a tool of the devil designed to confuse and destroy families.

What follows are highlights taken from the bishop’s lengthy remarks.

The bishop began by telling attendees that while he took no enjoyment in the fact that homosexuals and their supporters had been offended by the announcement of the exorcism, he felt he had no choice but to perform it.

“I am conducting this prayer service and am speaking to you now with great reluctance,” Bishop Paprocki said. “I did not seek to enter any controversy and I don't relish being part of one. But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers.”

“Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality,” the bishop said. “It is not hateful to say that an immoral action is sinful. On the contrary, the most compassionate thing we can do is help people to turn away from sin.”

Bishop Paprocki added, “To ignore another person's wrongful actions is a sign of apathy or indifference, while fraternal correction is motivated by love for that person's well-being, as can be seen by the fact that our Lord Jesus himself urged such correction. Indeed, the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News’ (Mark 1:15).”

“I do not stand here before you as a self-righteous saint who has achieved spiritual perfection, but as a sinner who has received Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior,” the bishop told his flock. “To acknowledge one's sinfulness is indeed the starting point of what it means to be a Christian.”

But the bishop added, “our Christian identity does not end with this admission of sin, but finds its salvation in accepting the saving grace of our Most Holy Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross to forgive our sins and rose from the dead to lead us to the reward of eternal life in His Kingdom.”

Bishop Paprocki quoted a recent interview with Pope Francis, in which he said: ”The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, 'This is not a sin' or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.”

“This is a key point which the secularists are missing,” said Paprocki. “They think that stressing God's mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God's mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness.”

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The bishop acknowledged that many outside the church were offended and confused by his holding an “exorcism” to combat same-sex “marriage.” But he said that their offense was misplaced and largely due to misunderstanding.

“Perhaps a large part of the negative reaction is because most people don't know what the Church teaches about exorcism, since they get their misleading information and sensational ideas on this mainly from Hollywood,” Paprocki said. “The fact is that a ‘minor exorcism’ takes place in every Baptism and Confirmation ceremony when we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. This prayer service will be along those lines.”

“I’m not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil,” said the bishop, “but all of us are certainly subject to the devil’s evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil.”

Paprocki said the prayer service was “not meant to demonize anyone,” but was “intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the Church.”

“These demonic influences are not readily apparent to the undiscerning eye, which is why they are so deceptive,” Paprocki added.

Paprocki recommended a book by Fr. Louis Cameli, The Devil You Don’t Know: Recognizing and Resisting Evil in Everyday Life as a good primer in what he called the “ordinary work of the devil: deception, division, diversion and discouragement.”

The bishop said that those who advocate for same-sex “marriage” promote a deceptive view or a distortion of true marriage when they argue that “it is not ultimately about generating life, but rather is mainly about a romantic relationship designed for individual (not even mutual) fulfillment.”

Paprocki said, “That distorted understanding cuts across opposite-sex marriage and same-sex marriage proponents in our culture. We are all summoned to reflect more deeply on the truth of marriage.” Added the bishop, “it is also a deception to say that there will be no adverse effects on children being brought up in the household of a same-sex couple.”

Paprocki said “[t]he division brought about by the devil due to same-sex marriage may be seen in the way our society, our families and our friendships have become so divided and polarized over this issue. The diversion of the devil in same-sex marriage may be seen in the fact that so much of our time, energy and resources are being spent in addressing this issue, when there are more pressing needs facing our state and our Church. The work of discouragement by the Devil in same-sex marriage is apparent in the message being conveyed to defenders of traditional marriage that the universal redefinition of marriage is unstoppable, so we might as well just stop trying.”

But the bishop said that just as “the legalization of abortion on demand forty years ago did not silence those who believe that abortion is contrary to God's law … the legal redefinition of civil marriage does not put an end to the need for discourse and action to defend natural marriage in accord with God's plan … .”

“Since the legal redefinition of marriage is contrary to God's plan, those who contract civil same-sex marriage are culpable of serious sin,” said Bishop Paprocki. “Politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.” The bishop said politicians and the faithful alike must repent and pray for forgiveness and deliverance from the sin of same-sex “marriage.” He invited those in need to go to Confession and receive God’s mercy and absolution.

Bishop Paprocki reminded the faithful of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, which states that those struggling with same-sex attraction “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

“The Church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion, offering assistance through support groups such as the Courage Apostolate to live in accord with the virtue of chastity,” Paprocki said. “Indeed, all people all called to chastity, which for a man and woman united in matrimony means for the husband and wife to be faithful to each other.”

The bishop concluded with a quote from a second-century homily: “Let me say also that when we are given a warning and corrected for doing something wrong, we should not be so foolish as to take offense and be angry. There are times when we are unconscious of the sins we commit because our hearts are fickle, lacking in faith. Futile desires becloud our minds. We need to pull ourselves up, therefore, because our very salvation is at stake. Those who keep God's commandments will have reason to rejoice. For a short time in this world they may have to suffer, but they will rise again and their reward will endure forever.”

To read Bishop Paprocki’s remarks in their entirety, click here.