Friday, June 23, 2017

Decree From Bishop of Springfield Lays Down Directives For Those in Same-Sex "Marriages"

About a week and a half ago, Bishop Thomas Paprocki released a decree "Regarding Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues". The secular media jumped all over this yesterday, with painfully erroneous ways of misrepresenting Church teaching. Dissenters such as New Way Ministry, as well as their supporters such as Fr. James Martin, also denounced the bishop's decree. However, everything seemed to focus specifically on one small section of the decree, namely on funeral rites:
“Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites. In case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary [bishop], whose judgment is to be followed (cf. c. 1184).
Fr. Martin replied very quickly on his Facebook page:
If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a "sign of unjust discrimination" (2358).
I would have to conclude, as have others, that Fr. Martin, who echoes what the editors at New Ways Ministry had to say, is way off base here. In all honesty, he's pretty much wrong.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield

On first glance, just going from the intentionally incomplete, secular news articles, it seems that the bishop is singling out those who are giving public scandal by being open and upfront regarding their state-sanctioned homosexual marriage. This is very different from most of the examples that. Fr. Martin gave, although I do agree with him on the point regarding those who have divorced their lawful and spouse and publicly and openly live with their civilly remarried spouse. That's definitely analogous; the others aren't.

The scandal given by those who have come into a homosexual marriage sanctioned by the state is a very grave scandal, as it equates this union with the bond that can only be truly received by people who marry the opposite sex. He doesn't mention those who are in illicit sexual relationships, either gay or straight. Because if he did, then yea, you would have to deny anyone who fornicated a Christian funeral. Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be what Bishop Paprocki is suggesting. When someone solemnizes their union as a "marriage", we enter a whole new ball game. Marriage is a sacrament, and it's being mocked by those of the same-sex who attempt to marry. A man fathering a child out of wedlock is not attempting marriage. Even those that cohabit are not attempting marriage. Those that are homosexual and seek state sanctioned marriage are attempting to get married. That attempt is, of course, impossible and the public scandal makes a mockery out of the union that truly occurs between a man and woman in marriage.

But when we actually look at the actual document promulgated by Bishop Paprocki, we see that Fr. Martin's analysis of the decree is indeed mistaken, as the bishop is specifically talking about those who have made an attempt to solemnize their union through state sanctioned marriage. He's not talking about homosexuals in general, nor is he talking about fornication in general. There are six sections in this decree, and it's only the fourth one that deals with funeral rites. Why the media, and New Ways Ministry decided to focus only on this is beyond me. But in any case, the entire thing has been sensationalized by New Ways Ministry and the like, as usual.

Canonist Edward Peters reminds us that Bishop Paprocki has, besides a master’s degree in theology and a civil law degree from Depaul, a further licentiate degree in theology and, even more, a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical GregoriaUniversity in Rome. In short, he knows what he's talking about, especially when he cites Canon 1184 when dealing with the section on funeral rites.

Bishop Paprocki is simply doing his job as bishop. Of course the secular media and dissenting groups like New Way Ministry will be vocal about their disappointment. Dr. Peters had an excellent point on that specific canon in regards to all this:
Paprocki knows, for example, that the CLSA New Commentary (2001) discussing Canon 1184 at p. 1412, understands one in “manifest sin” as one “publicly known to be living in a state of grave sin”. That’s a far cry from [editor at New Ways Ministry, Robert] Shine’s rhetorical jab, delivered as if it were the coup de grace to Paprocki’s position, “Who among us, including Bishop Paprocki, does not publicly sin at different moments?” Hardly anyone, I would venture, and so would Paprocki. But the law is not directed at those who, from time to time, commit sin, even a public sin; it is concerned about those who make an objectively sinful state their way of life.
I'd also like to quote the end of Bishop Paprocki's decree, that was so conveniently left out of many of the other reports we've seen thus far, including being left out of Fr. Martin's statement:
Finally, I remind all who exercise a ministry within the Church that while being clear and direct about what the Church teaches, our pastoral ministry must always be respectful, compassionate and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in faith, as was the ministry of Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd and our everlasting model for ministry.
The model for ministry is not found in the applications and ideas of New Ways Ministry or those that they support. The model is found in Christ Jesus, as it is applied by what Bishop Paprocki gives all in this decree.

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