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Free Exorcise

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, the latest insanity from the Bishop of Springfield:

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for "exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage" at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill into law next week.

Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state's capital Wednesday. . . .

An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on a person, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear "in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church," the Diocese of Springfield said in a statement.

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Do these people realize that they bring ridicule down upon the Church when they do this sort of nonsense?  Same sex marriage is here.  it is legal. it has zero to do with "persecution of the church."  People like Bishop Paprocki need to stop embarassing themselves and the rest of the Church with this inane behavior.

We have rules for everything, surely there must be rules against abusing a sacramental.

Just how will the credibility of the Church's public witness be strengthened when the law remains in place after the bishop has called down the power of God to cast it out? This is, as Irene says, an abuse. And, a stupid one.

Let me think--the Bible is rich with examples of Christ exorcising demons, but done to remedy physical malady or mental impairment.  A Biblical schiolar I'm not, but I don't recall exorcism used in that sense.

Good grief, Charlie Paprocki Brown.

 

There's a difference, I think, between a malady and a willful embrace of evil.

What the usccb website says: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/OEBPS/29-chapter12.xhtml

1673    When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.178 In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.

What are the precedents for this particular sort of performance of the ritual? 

From what person or object is the Evil One to be exorcised? Did the bishop say? Was it the whole state? The whole diocese? The Capital? The governor, and if so, the governor alone or with others? Which of them is under thedominion of the Evil One? And why do it at the cathedral where, presumably, the problem does not exist?

Someone will come up with the appropriate canons soon, I hope. But I would be surprised beyond telling if they allow "Come out, come out, wherever you are."

To follow up on Tom's comment, it's my understanding that an exorcism is aimed at specific individuals or an individual who are possessed by Satan. So I presume that an exorcism "in reparation" for the sin of same-sex marriage implies that the bishop believes that those who have facilitated and will engage in same-sex marriage are possessed.

In other words, these individuals are not people who are misguided or even motivated by evil impulses contrary to the teaching of the Church. No, they have THE VERY DEVIL LIVING INSIDE THEM PULLING THE STRINGS!! This strikes me as a not-so-subtle way of moving same-sex marriage and those who support it to the tippy top of the leader board in the hierarchy of sins.

Do these people realize that they bring ridicule down upon the Church when they do this sort of nonsense?  Same sex marriage is here.  it is legal. it has zero to do with "persecution of the church."  People like Bishop Paprocki need to stop embarassing themselves and the rest of the Church with this inane behavior.

People who witness in front of abortion clinics know what it means to be ridiculed.  Why do they even show up?  Don't they know they will be ridiculed?

 

How in God's name did JPII and B16 determine that "Exorcism Tom" was fit for promotion to bishop???  The guy is unbelievable :-)

Jim, I don't mind them. As long as they're quiet, non-intrusive, non-aggressive, and do their prayers without getting in the way of the doctors and patients, I don't know that one should object to their being there. They feel strongly about it, and many believe that abortion is murder: let them be. It does not seem fair to compare them to a bishop doing some "exorcism" in the Cathedral while a law is being signed.

 

Yeah, I don't get that. How is the fairly mundane practice of picketing really analagous to...whatever it is exactly that this bishop will be doing? Both parties mat be subject to ridicule, but since it's not for the same reasons, I'm not sure why they're being compared.

 

I wonder if he is going to perform exorcisms in every rectory, Catholic school and sacristy where priests raped children.

This kind of garbage makes me want to vomit and embarrassed to be a priest in Church with bishops like this clown

Jim Pauwels,

I see protesting as quite a different situation. It is one thing to hold ones self up to ridicule and abuse.  And I'm not sure abortion protesters are really ridiculed or open the Church to ridicule. This "event" is the equivalent of calling down the wrath of God on the people (or the governor or the Legislature, I'm not 100% clear on whom this exocism is being performed) of Illinois.  This is another in a long line of bishops trivializing Catholic ritual, tradition and belief to make a political point.  To me that is quite different from a group protesting at an abortion clinic or at the legislature.  And personally, I find it appalling that a Bishop would hold a Catholic ritual up to such mocking. 

I like Andreassi's idea that rectories where child abuse took place should be exorcised -- except that the Evil One wasn't in the house but in the abuser. That's if he was involved at all. There is a rite for reconsecrating a church that has been desecrated, as, for example, by a death squad assassin shooting an archbishop. That might be more appropriate

I don't like the comparison of a religious rite directly aimed at the Father of Lies -- upon proof (I thought) of his involvement -- being equated with a civil protest aimed at the hearts and minds of legislators, governors or even abortion doctors and of voters. Atomic bombs vs. nastly letters.

I don't want to gang up on my friend Jim Pauwels, but I could see a Mass for the preservation of marriage as a kind of positive reinforcement of what the Church teaches and, secondarily, a protest, a standing up against a law the bishop finds out of line.

I would have happily attended a Mass for, say, the fair treatment of workers after Michigan's Right to Work law was passed. I disagreed with the legislation, and I think it's not in line with Church teaching. But holding an exorcism of those legislators who passed it? No. Talk about demonizing your opponents.

We definitely have some weirdass people in our religion.  But I feel really sorry for the Catholics who live in his diocese; we only hear the stuff crazy enough to make the papers.

Cruel and crazy.

Well, A. Andreassi beat me to it, because I was about to ask where Bishop Paprocki has been during the never-ending sexual abuse scandal? Plenty of opportunity for exorcisms there, I should have thought.

"I like Andreassi's idea that rectories where child abuse took place should be exorcised -- except that the Evil One wasn't in the house but in the abuser. That's if he was involved at all. There is a rite for reconsecrating a church that has been desecrated, as, for example, by a death squad assassin shooting an archbishop. That might be more appropriate"

Amen. 

The UK version of the Vatican's survey has been online for a wjile and some results are in at The Tablet.  One of the questionsasked was to whom Catholics looked for advice about moral decisions and of the possible answers, "religious leaders, local or nationa"  recieved zero percent on the survey.  Given bishops like Paprocki, that smae must be true in spades over here.

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/826/endangered-species

A well-publicized event presided over by the bishop in the cathedral will probably draw plenty of recording equipment, so there's an excellent chance that the performance will soon be a popular attraction on the internet. Even a simple offering of prayers for exorcism, with no projectile vomiting, exploding candles, or people flying into the air, will be compelling stuff, right up there, I should think, with Pat Robertson's explanations of why natural disasters occur.

You cannot exorcise thin air.  This is nothing but a publicity stunt and a very poorly conceived one at that.  The bishops appears to be mocking God.

 

Regarding Ms. Hughes Raber's comment about the "tippy top of the leader board of the heirarchy of sins." There is nothing subtle at all about Paprocki's agenda.  Here is an excerpt from a press release from Paprocki diocese:

Bishop Paprocki said that since same-sex marriage is contrary to the plan of God (see Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), those who contract civil same-sex marriage are culpable of serious sin. He also noted that politicians who enacted civil same-sex marriage legislation are "morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin."

"It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church," he said. "All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation. We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church."

http://dio.org/communications/press-releases/349-bishop-to-offer-prayers...\

The logic here is astounding.  Merely supporting the extension of a package of legal rights and responsibilities (really, that is all civil marriage is) to committed same-sex couples is suddenly a grave sin?  Fr. Andreassi's post on right on target.   We should all be embarrassed. 

I have no idea why that quote is repeated over and over.  If an editor could remove everything prior to "Regarding Ms. Hughe Raber's comment...", I'd be very grateful.

Irene:

"We have rules for everything, surely there must be rules against abusing a sacramental."

Isn’t there a rule of the ritual that an exorcism should never be broadcast in the media?

In November 2010, Bishop Paprocki organized a conference on exorcism in Baltimore right before the USCCB fall meeting.

He is quoted as saying:

“Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one. It’s only used in those cases where the Devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person. But it’s rare, it’s extraordinary, so the use of exorcism is also rare and extraordinary.”

Laurie Goodstein wrote an article on the event in the New York Times.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/us/13exorcism.html?_r=0

For the record, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Houston-Galveston was one of the speakers at the Baltimore conference on exorcism.  He discussed the scriptural basis of evil.

…because I was about to ask where Bishop Paprocki has been during the never-ending sexual abuse scandal?

Q:  “And where were you when my little ones were destroyed in the womb?”

a:   “Well, admittedly, doing just about everything I could to support the politicians who enabled it, but at least I took 5 minutes when I could to mock embarrassing rituals that I found silly.   You have to give me that.”

Helen- I'm pretty skeptical about the ritual of exorcism, and I imagine I'm not alone.  For a bishop to turn it into political theatre is interesting, but I imagine it makes people like me even more skeptical.

We definitely have some weirdass people in our religion.

That pretty much sums it up for me, but I'm going to be bummed out if the exorcism isn't available on YouTube. 

 

Jean, thanks - I don't feel ganged up on.  (And I know how that feels! :-)).  

I would never have thought of this exorcism idea in a million years, so it seems a little quirky.  I guess I don't find it embarrassing.  Why should it be?  What's the problem with it?   Apparently, exorcisms happen in many dioceses.  I do simple exorcisms myself when baptize infants.  Are they all equally embarrassing?  Why is this one more embarrassing or ridiculous than any others?  Spell it out.

Many aspects of Catholic life get mocked and ridiculed.  Persons who witness in front of abortion clinics certainly get mocked.  Catholic priests get mocked because some of their brethren abused children.  The Eucharist gets mocked by non-Catholics.  Belief in the Bible as an inspired text is mocked.  Our openness to God's activity in our lives is mocked.  Belief in the saints gets mocked.  Reverence for the Virgin Mary gets mocked.   Parents who have more than two or three children get mocked. Reverence for the Pope gets mocked.  And so on and so on.  Most of this stuff rolls off our backs.  Why is this odd little idea worthy of 32 comments and climbing, most of them extremely negative and disdainful?

 

 

Jim P.

"Parents who have more than two or three children get mocked."

When?

 

Jim P., I don't want to pick on you, but if you look at my original questions (Nov. 15, 3:58 p.m.), they are not answered yet. And if there are no answers, the whole exorcism makes no sense. An exorcism is supposed to expel demons, or the Evil One, from a person or thing. This exorcism is going to be performed in the cathedral where (unless ther bishop knows something we don't know) the Evil One has no sway. If the good bishop wishes to exorcise someone or something, he is supposed to go to the site and confront the evil one in moral combat. What is being described for Springfield is more like a drone strike.

That's not an exorcism. It is a branch of show business, and more on the carnival end than on the grand opera side. You are hung up on the mockery this exorcism will (justly, as far as I can see under the scenario I just described) provoke. Well, yes, but the mockery begins with the bishop using a serious religious act -- the only successful exorcist I ever met had his brown hair turn completely white in the two or three days of the exorcism -- to make an unclear political point.

The norms for exorcism state that it is a last resort. First all medical or psychoilogical diagnoses have to be exhausted, before one should consider exorcism. That means nirmally one never gets to exorcism because the peculaiar manifestation mistaken as demon possession can be otherwise understood. In other words, the Church itself knows that demons possession is peculair and rare if existent at all.  The problem is that in the last 35 years there has been an erroneous meme circulating in the Church that people no longer believe in sin and the devil and so a whole crop of amateur exorcists have appointed themselves as the ones who will rid the world of evil.  I will mention one name, Fr, Euteneur, which shoud be enough to discredit the wrongheadeness of this whole movement.  The modern world does not need exorcism.  It is a throwback to a pre-scientific age. That is why it should be mocked.  It is pure silliness and in the case of Paprocki a failed publicity stunt.

What is being described for Springfield is more like a drone strike.—Tom B.

And a drone strike on, or at least at, one's own headquarters. Unusual targeting.

 

Jim P.,

Mockery occurs in a wide range, from light raillery to outright cruelty. At its best, it may serve a useful and benign purpose, if it moves people to reexamine and fortify core principles and sound beliefs and to slough off or lay less emphasis on mere accretions. Most of it, as you say, can be ignored. But there is no denying that many people see the Church as a hostile and retrograde force in the world and in their own lives, and would like to see its reach (further) diminished. Nor are mockery and cruelty all on one side. When Church leaders keep blasting certain folks as inherently disordered, for example, they are adopting a rhetoric that has often led and still leads to pogroms and death squads, and the having-it-both-ways of "love the sinner but hate the sin" doesn't absolve it. This exorcism business is just another ugly and tiresome expression of the same thing. They should cut it out.

 

 

 

 

This should be mocked primarily because Paprocki has moved supporting or participating in the expansion of civil marriage rights and responsibilities into the realm of grave sin.  Even accepting the catechism teachings on homosexuality wholeheartedly (which I will admit I do not) -- how is this a grave sin?  The catechism uses the word "grave" when speaking of same-sex sexual acts, not orienation or other parts of lives together.  It also affirmatively says: "They (gay people) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."  Support for same sex marriage is not about promoting same sex sexual acts.  It is about accepting gay people in our communities "with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and removing "unjust discrimnation". 

Jim, I like how you're all in a knot about people mocking Paprocki's stunt, but don't have a word to say about how the bishop is dehumanizing--nay, quite literally demonzing--gay people through these actions.

One thinks of the Sons of Sceva...

Apropos Pope Francis, same-sex marriage and the devil:

1. “Pope Francis against Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/pope-francis-gay-marriage-anti_n_2869221.html

“Pope Francis is a conservative who is anti-gay marriage and anti-gay adoption. He has described same-sex marriage as the work of the devil and a ‘destructive attack on God’s plan.’ He has also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.

“In 2010, Francis championed against a bill for same-sex marriage and gay adoption, according to the National Catholic Register.

“‘[T]he Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family,’ he wrote to the four monasteries in Argentina. ‘At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.’

“He went on to describe it as a ‘ “move” of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God’ and asked for lawmakers to ‘not act in error.’ “

2. “The Devil and Pope Francis” by Robert Royal

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/printarticle.html?id=8850

“... one of the most significant things to this point is that he's already mentioned the Devil several times.  At his first papal Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during the homily to the cardinal electors, he quoted French writer Léon Bloy: ‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.’  And then continued on his own: ‘When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.’

“He spoke two days later to a gathering of the cardinals urging that they ‘not cede to the bitterness and pessimism that the devil offers us every day.’  This is not unusual language for him.  When he was trying to stop the Argentine government from legalizing same-sex ‘marriage,’ he put the problem thus:

“‘Let's not be naive:  This is not a simple political fight;  it is a destructive proposal to God's plan.  This is not a mere legislative proposal (that's just it's form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God ... Let's look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment ... May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.’

“A pope who openly and repeatedly speaks about the language of the devil, the father of lies, the war against God, and prayer to the Holy Family as a way to combat it clearly isn't trying to win points with the progressive media.  Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner accused him of medievalism for these remarks, but that didn't intimidate him or others.  And she was forced to withdraw the criticism.”

3. “How to rout the demon's strategy”

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20131011_demon-strategy_en.html

 

Has anyone presented evidence that the Bishop is doing anything other than loving the sinner/hating the sin?   Or is there a whole lotta projectin' going on?

loving the sinner/hating the sin

http://tinyurl.com/nu3ssf5

 

 

 

Well said, John Prior.

Ill said, Mark Proska.

Unsaid, Father O.

Right said Fred.

But, seriously, I am still wondering about the precedents for this use of the ritual. Above, Helen asked about the propriety of announcing an exorcism in a press release; I didn't know if she was being rhetorical, or if there are actual injunctions against publicizing exorcisms. I also am unsure as to what/who exactly is supposed to be benefiting from the exorcism.  Isn't exorcism performed to expell demons or to free from possession? So, from whom/what are demons being expelled?

Possession aside, I sometimes wonder concerning the asserted role of demons as tempters of humanity why anyone would think that the most ferocious, bloodthirsty, venal, profligate, cruel species that earth has ever seen would need coaches in wickedness. We wrote the book and could teach the universe.

To be fair, we also exhibit from time to time heroic virtue, tender mercy, and simple kindness. For our range is great. And on that side of our ambivalent nature, encouragement from others is usually important, maybe even necessary.

Jim, I like how you're all in a knot about people mocking Paprocki's stunt, but don't have a word to say about how the bishop is dehumanizing--nay, quite literally demonzing--gay people through these actions.

Is he?  If gay people are the objects of the exorcise - which I don't think is established; like Tom Blackburn, I truly don't know who or what is being exorcised - then Paprocki would seem to be quite literally un-demonizing them.  FWIW, though, my best guess is that it is not gay people who are being exorcised.  Springfield, the capital of Illinois, is where the law was passed.  I'm guessing that Paprocki is exorcising the law, or the legislators who passed it, or something intangible like the spirit of the age that enabled it.  As the bishop of the state capital, maybe he sees this as (literally) within his province.  Just guessing, though - we'd need to ask him to understand his train of thought.

Paprocki, it seems to me, is doing nothing more (and nothing less) than bearing witness that gay marriage is sinful.  Naturally, many people disagree, and Catholics who disagree would be dissenters on this point, but to note that gay marriage is sinful is pretty much plain, vanilla, run-of-the-mill Catholicism.  

Is an exorcism the best way to bear witness?  As I say, the idea never would have occurred to me; it strikes me as idiosyncratic.  But exorcism has a very strong scriptural basis and is deeply rooted in the tradition.  It's not a mainstream expression of American Catholicism, but so what?  The American Catholic church is filled with people who express their Catholicism in non-mainstream ways.  

The bottom line is that Paprocki has chosen a Catholic way to express a Catholic idea.  It's the idea that really upsets people.

 

This should be mocked primarily because Paprocki has moved supporting or participating in the expansion of civil marriage rights and responsibilities into the realm of grave sin.  Even accepting the catechism teachings on homosexuality wholeheartedly (which I will admit I do not) -- how is this a grave sin?  The catechism uses the word "grave" when speaking of same-sex sexual acts, not orienation or other parts of lives together.  It also affirmatively says: "They (gay people) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."  Support for same sex marriage is not about promoting same sex sexual acts.  It is about accepting gay people in our communities "with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and removing "unjust discrimnation". 

Jack - in most/all of the circumstances I can imagine, a single consensual homosexual sex act would (as the church judges these things) be a grave sin.  A gay marriage would erect legal protections around a stable household arrangement that would enable many consensual homosexual sex acts.  On that basis alone, a gay marriage would seem to be gravely sinful.

You're certainly right that gay people are entitled to respect, compassion and sensitivity.  A supporter of the church's position on gay marriage, though, would note that gay marriage is not actually necessary to eradicate the instances of disrespect and insensitivity that had been institutionalized into laws and societal customs and practices: inheritance laws, entitlement to healthcare coverage, hospital visitation rights, apartment rental discrimination, employment discrimination and so on.  All of these are addressable on their own, without introducing a notion of gay marriage.

 

 

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About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.