Saturday, June 24, 2017

Catholic Diocese of Springfield, IL, to Deny Marriage, Communion, & Funeral Rites to Gay-Married Catholics

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, IL, has issued policies for how to deal with married gay people. Basically, he wants to bar them from Catholic weddings, funerals, etc. Earlier this month, he issued pastoral guidance to the priests that he oversees on how to respond to Catholics who are is gay marriages:
Marriage: No member or the clergy or employee/representative of the Diocese is allowed to assist or participate in a same-sex marriage, "including providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events." Our weddings cannot be held in any Catholic facility, including parishes, schools, charitable institutions, hospitals, etc. And God forbid that anyone uses any item in a gay wedding that is sacred or blessed, such as a liturgical book.

Holy Communion: Gay spouses will be denied Holy Communion. They will be denied Holy Communion until they repent of their marriage.

Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, etc.): Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage may be baptized. Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage may received First Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation. A person in a gay marriage cannot serve as a sponsor for the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation. A person in a gay marriage cannot be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or receive the Sacrament of Confirmation until after he or she repents and leave his or her marriage.

Funeral Rites: To avoid scandal, a person in a gay marriage will be denied funeral rites, unless he or she repented and left his or her marriage prior to death.

Participation in Liturgical Ministries: People in same-sex marriages cannot serve in any public liturgical role within the Catholic Church.

Catholic Schools and Catechetical and Formational Programs: Children raised by parents in a same-sex marriage cannot be denied admission to Catholic schools or other educational programs. However, these children will be taught that their family and their parents' marriage are really, really bad.
Bishop Paprocki then advised that priests should smile nicely when they deny funerals and stuff like that to married gay people. And he reminded them that they could get in big trouble if they went against his instructions.

None of this should be a shocker to anybody who's lived in this society or paid attention to the Catholic Church's treatment of LGBT people over the past generation or so. The only potential bright spot is the allowance for children of gay parents to participate in Catholic schools. Except that the schools will most likely forbid both parents from actively participating in school events.

Might I suggest that self-respecting LGBT Catholics look into other options besides the Catholic Church? Especially if you're engaged, married, and/or a parent? If you want high church, check out the Episcopal Church. Otherwise, there are ELCA churches, Methodist churches, Disciples of Christ churches...

And, of course, there is the United Church of Christ. We have allowed for LGBT pastors for over 45 years. We've welcomed and affirmed LGBT leaders and members for the same amount of time. We have affirmed equal marriage rights and rites for over a decade. We have open communion. And we won't force your family to scramble for a funeral officiant or venue at the last minute.

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