SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, July 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A U.S. bishop said that the outcry from “within the Church” against his statement prohibiting unrepentant homosexuals from receiving Communion or a public funeral within his diocese shows the existence of a “strong…LGBT lobby” that has infiltrated the Church.
Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki singled out newly-appointed Vatican advisor Father James Martin, S.J., for getting “a lot wrong” in his criticism of the bishop’s June 12 decree.
Father Martin is a Jesuit and editor-at-large of America magazine. In his June 2017 book titled Building a Bridge he urges Catholics who identify as “gay” to begin “conversations” with their bishops so as to move the Church in the direction of eventually accepting homosexuality as part of God’s creation.
When Bishop Paprocki issued his decree on same-sex “marriage” last month, Fr. Martin responded to it with a series of critical tweets.
Tweeted the priest as quoted by the bishop: “If bishops ban members of same-sex couples from funeral rites, they must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics without annulments … women who have children out of wedlock, members of straight couples living together before marriage, anyone using birth control … To focus only on LGBT people, even those in same-sex marriages, without a similar focus on the sexual or moral behavior of straight people is in the words of the Catechism a ‘sign of unjust discrimination.’”
Paprocki said that the “fact that there would be such an outcry against this decree is quite astounding and shows how strong the LGBT lobby is both in the secular world as well as within the church.”
He went on to address specific points raised by Fr. Martin, saying that the priest “gets a lot wrong in those tweets.”
“[C]anon law prohibits ecclesiastical funeral rites only in cases of ‘manifest sinners’ which gives ‘public scandal,’ and something such as using birth control is a private matter that is usually not manifest or made public,” he said.
The bishop went on to say that his decree does not focus on “LGBT people” as Fr. Martin alleges, but on those in a “so-called same-sex marriage, which is a public legal status.”
“No one is ever denied the sacraments or Christian burial for simply having a homosexual orientation. Even someone who had entered into a same-sex ‘marriage’ can receive the sacraments and be given ecclesiastical funeral rites if they repent and renounce their ‘marriage,’” he said.
Paprocki said that Martin ignored the “key phrase” of his decree that ecclesiastical funeral rites are to be denied to persons in same-sex “marriages” “unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death.”
“This is a direct quote from canon 1184 of the Code of Canon Law, which is intended as a call to repentance,” he said.
Paprocki said that while a public Mass of Christian Burial in church cannot be celebrated for “unrepentant manifest sinners” because of giving public scandal, the priest or deacon may, however, “conduct a private funeral service, for example, at the funeral home.”
No one in ‘grave sin’ can receive Communion
The bishop said that Fr. Martin’s criticism of his decree as only applying to “LGBT people” raises an important point, namely that anyone who commits “grave sin” is unworthy of receiving Communion.
“He is right that the Church’s teaching does not apply only to people in same-sex marriages. According to canon 916, all those who are ‘conscious of grave sin’ are not to receive Holy Communion without previous sacramental confession,” said Paprocki.
The bishop went on to list a number of situations where those living in grave sin should not present themselves for Communion until they have repented, gone to confession, and amended their lives. This includes:
- “Those who have sexual relations outside of a valid marriage, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual…This includes the divorced and remarried without an annulment.”
- “Those who have had an abortion or have assisted in performing or procuring an abortion.”
- “Those politicians and judges who helped to make same-sex marriage legal and who aid and abet abortion, for example, by voting for taxpayer funding for abortion.”
- “Those who use artificial contraception.”
- “Those who miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, unless it would be impossible due to a grave cause such as serious illness.”
Bishop Paprocki said that those who “do receive Holy Communion while conscious of grave sin compound the moral offense by committing the sin of sacrilege.”
He said his decree did not address all the above situations because “they have long been part of Church teaching” while the “concept of same-sex ‘marriage’” was something relatively new.
Not alone in criticizing Fr. Martin
Bishop Paprocki joins Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput in criticizing Father Martin for getting the Church’s teaching wrong on homosexuality.
Earlier this month Archbishop Chaput criticized Father Martin for failing to be clear about the sinfulness of homosexual acts in his book Building a Bridge.
“What the text regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships,” the archbishop wrote in a column titled A letter to the Romans.
Also earlier this month canon law expert Fr. Gerald Murray criticized Fr. Martin’s book for advocating for the “relaxation of the Church’s teaching that sodomy is gravely immoral and that any attraction to commit acts of sodomy is an objective disorder in one’s personality.”
“The point of this book is not to suggest ways in which the Church, in fidelity to the teaching of Christ, can improve her outreach to those persons who feel attracted to commit the sin of sodomy in the hope that they will reject this wrongful tendency and embrace chastity. If that were the case, then the very successful experience of Courage, which has spread throughout the United States and internationally, would have been at least mentioned, if not highlighted,” he wrote.