Using the Gospel as a cudgel

The Rev. Thomas Paprocki, bishop of the Springfield, Ill. diocese.

I was drawn recently to the story of the Thomas Paprocki, the Catholic bishop of Springfield, Ill., who has called on priests in his jurisdiction to deny Holy Communion and even funeral rites to people in same-sex unions.

This is not new, of course, though it is unusual that a Christian “leader” would do something like this in a non-election year. The last time I recall this occurring was during the presidency of Bill Clinton, when evangelical Christian “leaders” — many of them the same people who urged their flocks to vote for The Current President in the past election — were outraged by Mr. Clinton’s dalliance with an intern and suggested he should be excommunicated.

They wanted him impeached as well, but they likely knew that people such as serial adulterer Newt Gingrich and yet-to-be unmasked pedophile Denny Hastert couldn’t be counted on to take more than a loud moral stand against Mr. Clinton.

Who knows why Father Paprocki chose this time to make his pronouncement? He is apparently not too impressed with Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love,” released last year, which called on the clergy to be pastoral and not use doctrine as a weapon.

But Father Paprocki has long been an activist in the realm of same-sex marriage. The Chicago Tribune reported that “Four years ago, after gay marriage was legally recognized in Illinois, Paprocki performed an exorcism in response to the law, suggesting politicians were ‘morally complicit’ in assisting the sins of same-sex couples.”

But whatever. Christian “leaders” are gonna do what Christian “leaders” are gonna do. And that makes me wonder when Christian “leaders” are going to announce that they can no longer grant Holy Communion to politicians whose aim is to destroy the social safety net that has long been in place protect the most vulnerable among us.

Can Christian “leaders,” who are in some cases frothing to jump into the same-sex marriage discussion, and the abortion discussion, and other discussions, really in good conscience sit back and just allow without comment the legislation that will kick upwards of 25 million Americans off their insurance?

Can Christian “leaders” sit in their churches and allow politicians to rip up the environmental protections that make our air a little more fit to breathe, and our water a lot safer to drink (unless you’re in Flint, Michigan)?

Christian “leaders” might be able to support the dumbing down of education in order to allow conflicting Christian theories to combat science. But can Christian “leaders” really sit back and allow government to water down financial protections for us all, but are crucial to people who work hard to be self-sufficient, but are then ripped off by con artists and those who know how to work the financial and legal systems?”

If you’ve read this far, then you know that those who think Christian “leaders” should stay out of “politics” have already lost that battle. Christian “leaders” have weighed in on most of these topics, but they often holster their criticism of government when government does what they want it to do.

I would posit that everything is political, and when Christian “leaders” dance around the edge of political discussions, then they are very likely to step on the lines.

So I want to finish this admittedly incomplete thought with a question:

Why do Christian “leaders” not withhold Holy Communion and other church rites from people who — despite having all the advantages in life — want to rescind the rights of those they claim to serve?

God knows.


2 thoughts on “Using the Gospel as a cudgel

  1. I’ve long wondered when a prelate would deny sacraments to thrice-married Gingrich and mean-spirited Paul Ryan. As a Catholic, I’m wondering what happened to the church of Dorothy Day and John XXIII.


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