While many in Illinois were celebrating Gov. Pat Quinn’s signing of a marriage equality bill yesterday, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, the state’s capital city, was conducting an exorcism of “every unclean spirit” that, he said, led to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“I exorcise you, every unclean spirit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort, and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Thomas Paprocki in reading the church’s rite of exorcism at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. “Be uprooted and put to flight from the church of God from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine lamb. Dare no more, oh cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the church of God, to shake the chosen of God and sift them like wheat.”
In a homily before he read the exorcism rite, Paprocki said he did not mean to imply that supporters of same-sex marriage were possessed by the devil, but he did consider the legalization of such marriages to be the devil’s work.
“Since the legal redefinition of marriage is contrary to God’s plan, those who contract civil same-sex marriage are culpable of serious sin,” he said, according to The State Journal-Register of Springfield. “Politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as cooperators in facilitating this grave sin.”
He also said the church embraced gays and lesbians, while expecting them to be celibate. “The church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion,” he said.
The exorcism service was “unusual — and in Illinois, unprecedented,” the Sun-Times notes. During the hour-long late-afternoon service, which started about half an hour after the bill-signing ceremony, there were protesters outside the cathedral and armed police officers in the vestibule, but no disturbances took place, according to media reports.
The marriage equality bill, which Governor Quinn signed in Chicago, actually had a good deal of support from leaders and members of various religions, even some Roman Catholic laity; Quinn himself is a Catholic. The signing ceremony included shout-outs to some of the faith leaders who worked for its passage, and outside the venue at the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the prominent signs carried by supporters read “Catholics for Marriage Equality: God Is Love.”
In Springfield, outside the cathedral, city resident Win Colburn displayed a sign reading “Jesus Had Two Dads.” “I don’t want the haters to have the last word,” he told the Sun-Times. And Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation hosted a live-streamed viewing of the signing ceremony, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving for marriage equality.
“Today is a reminder to the population that the bishop does not speak for everyone in central Illinois,” the Unitarian church’s pastor, Rev. Martin Woulfe, told The State-Journal Register. “He speaks for his faith community, but there are other faith communities who will promote their views, and no one person has a monopoly on religious truth. I, of course, follow a very different path and have a very different interpretation. He would see it as a loss, but I see it as a victory.”