We posted about Bishop Paprocki’s strong statement regarding Catholics and voting. He is one of the strongest advocates of making sure that Catholics know the gravity of the decisions they make in the voting booth. We applaud him for that effort.
Yet, the Illinois State Journal-Register does not. Yesterday, they posted an editorial that attacked the Bishop’s recent statements . They claim his statements are divisive, and “[i]f Paprocki didn’t cross the line, he certainly inched a few toes over it.”
They go so far as to say,
Paprocki wrote that people who vote for candidates that favor abortion rights or gay marriage (read: Democratic) are going to hell.
So the good Bishop fought back. He penned another statement, this time calling on the Journal-Register to retract their misstatements and false claims. The following is Bishop Paprocki’s letter,
Your editorial in Thursday’s issue of The State Journal-Register seriously distorts and misrepresents what I wrote in my diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Times, on Sept. 23. You claim that I “wrote that people who vote for candidates that favor abortion rights or gay marriage (read Democratic) are going to hell.” I wrote nothing of the sort.
In fact if one were to read my whole column it would be apparent that I wrote, “Certainly there are ‘pro-choice’ Republicans who support abortion rights and ‘Log Cabin Republicans’ who promote same-sex marriage, and they are equally as wrong as their Democratic counterparts.” So it is simply inaccurate to infer that I was only criticizing Democrats.
Moreover, there is a huge difference between saying that complicity in promoting intrinsic evils “places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy” (as I wrote) and you are “going to hell” (as you claim I wrote). All of us, myself included, must diligently cooperate with God’s graces to be saved. To presume that one will be saved no matter what we do here on earth is called the sin of presumption. But neither would I presume to declare that someone is or is not going to hell. I leave that to God’s judgment.
You also state, “If Paprocki didn’t cross the line, he certainly inched a few toes over it.”
What line would that be? I wrote a column in our Catholic newspaper directed to the Catholic faithful of my flock about a moral matter with implications for eternal salvation. As you know, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects my freedom as a religious leader to do that. I pray it remains so.
You refer to Cardinal Bernardin’s “consistent life ethic” to say that he “argued to be truly pro-life, one had to act to preserve life beyond the conception and birth of the child.” The Catholic Church certainly does that through its many hospitals, schools, universities, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services. I served as Cardinal Bernardin’s Chancellor in the Archdiocese of Chicago until the day he died, so I know something about his teachings. He was ardently against abortion and deplored the use of the consistent ethic of life by those seeking to dilute the Church’s teaching that abortion is a sin. I certainly still subscribe to that philosophy.
Thomas John Paprocki is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
Some Bishops are reluctant to make bold statements about teachings of the Church that are seen by the world as controversial because they fear this kind of treatment. Yet, it is wonderful to see Bishops such as Paprocki stand up and make them regardless of the blow-back they receive, and stand firm even in the face of adversity.
Again, we applaud the good Bishop for his original statement, as well as the follow-through and oversight of his public statements. Let this serve as an example to others, and let Catholics heed his words – as they are written.