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Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois (left), Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska (right)YouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — The backlash continues for Cardinal Robert McElroy over his push to give Holy Communion to homosexuals and adulterers and overhaul Catholic teaching on sexuality.

Two more bishops, James Conley of Lincoln and Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, have rebuked the San Diego cardinal in recent days, warning that his heterodox agenda contradicts Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.

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

Bp. Conley: McElroy’s ‘radical inclusion’ ‘has never been the practice of the Catholic Church’

In a column on Friday, Conley denounced McElroy’s idea of “radical inclusion” without repentance and sharply criticized what he called “superficial accompaniment” that tolerates sinful behavior.

McElroy claimed in an article for America magazine in January that homosexuals and divorced and remarried couples who refuse to live in chastity should not be excluded from “full participation” in the Church, including Holy Communion.

“Pastoral practices that have the effect of excluding certain categories of people from full participation in the life of the [C]hurch,” McElroy wrote, “are at odds with this pivotal notion that we are all wounded and all equally in need of healing.”

While agreeing that “we are all deeply wounded,” Conley rejected McElroy’s view that “full participation in the life of the Church, including the Eucharist, seems to mean full participation without consideration of one’s relationship with the Church.”

“To my mind, this has never been the practice of the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

“When early Christians sinned grievously, they often gave public confession and did months, if not years, of public penance before being readmitted into full communion,” the bishop noted.

Though the Church has since “mercifully softened” the demands of penance, “the truth that penance must be made remains because it is a sign of a sinner who desires conversion, someone who is attempting to have a ‘firm purpose of amendment’ regarding their sins,” he added.

Bishop Conley also stressed that Jesus “always called the sinner to conversion” — an obvious fact that “should not have to be argued.”

“Jesus himself called sinners to repent. He ate and drank with tax collectors, yes, and this is what inclusion should look like, but he always called the sinner to conversion,” he wrote. “Accompaniment for Jesus was always paired with a call to conversion.”

“This should not have to be argued. It is there for all to see.”

READ: Denver archbishop refutes Cdl. McElroy’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ of homosexuals, adulterers

While listening is important for the process of conversion, it “is not enough” by itself, the prelate continued.

“We listen to accompany, and in the case of a sinner, to accompany that person to, and through, conversion. If we believe the Scriptures, then we know just how much is at stake,” Conley wrote.

He additionally condemned “wrong and dangerous” attempts to reduce the Church to a “safe space” and promote “unqualified welcoming” at the expense of doctrine and authentic love that calls people out of sin:

There is, nonetheless, often the notion that doctrinal fidelity is somehow in tension or even at odds with pastoral concerns. The truths of the faith, so the thinking goes, are not as important as the unqualified welcoming of all. It is as if the purpose of the Church is to create a safe space. This is both wrong and dangerous. The Church should never be satisfied to leave a person in his or her sin. This is a false idea of love and a disservice to the sinner.

Loving the sinner means insisting that they “live within the light of truth, a reality that is both liberating and one that saves,” he maintained. “This is much more difficult for the person accompanying the sinner than simply letting him or her stay in their sin, but it is essential.”

“True love calls for a change in heart,” the bishop summarized, quoting Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate: “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way”

“In the end, it is the truth that sets us free; freedom to love and freedom to live in the truth of our relationship with the Holy Trinity and the Church,” he concluded. “In this sense, love requires truth. To fail to accompany our neighbor out of sin into a life that conforms with the truth is not to love. It is a superficial accompaniment that has eternal consequences.”

Bp. Paprocki: McElroy wants ‘to devalue the gravity of sexual sin’

Bishop Thomas Paprocki also weighed in on Cardinal McElroy’s recent heterodox statements with an essay on Monday published by Catholic World Report.

The Springfield prelate specifically took aim at comments McElroy made in an interview with America this month attacking Catholic tradition on sexuality and complaining that the Church overemphasizes “sexual things.”

In the interview, which followed McElroy’s article in January on “radical inclusion,” the cardinal doubted that sexual sins cut off one’s relationship with God. “That’s pretty severe,” he said. “What I’m saying is that framework doesn’t fit.”

Paprocki, who is also the chairman-elect of the Church governance committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference, pushed back on McElroy’s revisionist “framework” for sexuality, stressing that the Church has “always taken sexual sin very seriously.”

“But Cardinal McElroy misdiagnoses the situation in stating the Church is too focused on ‘sexual things,’” he wrote.

“The Cardinal seems to be calling for the Church to devalue the gravity of sexual sin, but sexual sin is part of the ‘framework’ found in God’s Word,” he added, quoting the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which warns: “Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Not inheriting eternal life is indeed ‘pretty severe,’ and the Church rightly treats it so,” Paprocki remarked. 

“But why did sexual immorality make St. Paul’s list? Because sexuality affects all aspects of the human person,” he explained, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “and, thus, sexual sins have devastatingly widespread effects.”

Emphasizing the seriousness of sexual impurity is especially important in contemporary society, which is “infatuated with sexual sin,” the Illinois bishop continued. In response to widespread lust, “the Church vocally warns of its harm, calls ardently for conversion in this area, and proclaims the beauty of God’s plan for human sexuality,” he wrote.

READ: Fr. Gerald Murray slams Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality, African bishops

McElroy promoting ‘fundamental option’ heresy

Paprocki further accused McElroy of promoting the heretical “fundamental option theory,” which holds that individual mortal sins do not change a person’s relationship with God or cause one to lose the state of grace. 

“It is important to recognize and identify what Cardinal McElroy is attempting to do here: he is seeking to revive the discredited theological notion of the ‘fundamental option’ that became popular in the 1960s,” he said. “In this view, a person can commit particular sinful actions without losing the state of grace.”

He noted that Pope St. John Paul II decisively condemned this theory in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which teaches: “The separation of fundamental option from deliberate choices of particular kinds of behavior, disordered in themselves or in their circumstances, which would not engage that option, thus involves a denial of Catholic doctrine on mortal sin.”

Paprocki also slammed the left-wing cardinal’s claim that so-called “judgmentalism” constitutes “the worst sin in the Christian life.”

“It appears that for Cardinal McElroy it is Catholicism’s judgmentalism that leads to exclusion, and not the committed sins,” he observed. “But it has always been the practice of the Church to exclude those actively engaging in grave sin from Communion until they have repented, confessed their sins to a priest, and received sacramental absolution.”

The Church doesn’t require “perfection” to receive the Eucharist, but exclusion from Communion due to mortal sins is a necessary “consequence of those chosen actions,” the bishop wrote.

He concluded his essay with a call “to love more like Jesus so that we can see beyond the sin to the person and lovingly offer him invitation to conversion.”

Woke cardinal under fire

Both Bishop Conley and Paprocki’s essays echo similar criticisms of McElroy from other prelates, including Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, has called for McElroy to be “publicly corrected” by the Vatican.

Several prominent priests, such as Father Gerald Murray and Father Raymond DeSouza, have also refuted the cardinal’s comments.

Pope Francis appointed McElroy a cardinal last year, despite the San Diego prelate’s long history of disobeying and criticizing Catholic teaching, including on homosexual acts and same-sex adoption.

McElroy is set to give a lecture on “radical inclusion” at Fairfield University in Connecticut on Thursday.