Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Why Bishop Paprocki plans an exorcism

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 20, 2013

Trained as a canon lawyer, Bishop Thomas Paprocki understands the prudence of working within the system of Church law. He is not by nature a “lone ranger”—not the sort of prelate who would ignore the rules and rubrics to make his point. Still, while other American bishops have reacted to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage with protests and press statements, Bishop Paprocki has taken one long stride further, announcing plans to lead prayers of exorcism in the cathedral of his Springfield, Illinois diocese.

Exorcism isn’t something the Church takes lightly. Priests are strongly discouraged from using the ritual unless there is strong evidence of demonic activity. So Bishop Paprocki is telling us that he regards the acceptance of same-sex marriage as something far more serious than a matter of mistaken judgment; he sees it as evidence that Satan is twisting the thoughts of legislators, and presumably of the people they represent.

In explaining his exorcism plans, the bishop quoted another prelate, from Argentina, who had referred to a proposal for same-sex marriage as “a move of the father of lies” designed to bring about the “total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.” That Argentine bishop was Jorge Bergoglio. He is now more widely known as Pope Francis.

Beyond the words of the Holy Father, however, Bishop Paprocki may have another reason to fear the darker side of the gay-rights movement. He was personally friendly with Mary Stachowitz, the devout Catholic woman who was brutally murdered in 2002 by a colleague who resented her attempts to persuade him to stop his homosexual activities. Some people (not Chicago police or prosecutors) referred to the grisly killing as an anti-Catholic hate crime. Some others, including Bishop Paprocki, said that she died as a martyr for the faith.

It’s reasonable to assume that Bishop Paprocki was thinking of Mary Stachowitz on November 13, the 11th anniversary of her death. The Springfield diocese announced his exorcism plans the next day.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 27, 2017 7:48 AM ET USA

    In order to get a flavor of pre-Vatican I, pre-Vatican II, and post-Vatican II thinking, I grabbed a few commentaries close at hand that lend support to the dogma of the Assumption: Haydock's Rheims NT (1859), Orchard (et al., 1953), and the Navarre Bible (1992). All 3 render an interpretation of Revelation 12:1 as consistent with Mary. Although weak, I have used this verse as Scriptural evidence for this dogma. If a valid reading, then the dogma is supported by more than just positive theology.

  • Posted by: brownjudith2930 - Oct. 27, 2017 1:45 AM ET USA

    Thanks to the analogy between the disappearance of the Ark and Mary (Ark of the New Covenant) - I shall explore this further. I have always referred to Psalm 16:10 as scripture supporting the Assumption: "For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay" (Grail, 1962) as well as the O.T. recording of Elijah being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. When dealing with Protestants and encouraging meditation on the Glorious Mysteries, one tries to give scripture.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 22, 2013 7:36 PM ET USA

    Not a bad point by the gentleman below. Our awkward insecurity in reading these headlines- our doubts if you will- indict us as well. These are new times; the old ways no longer resonate. The Church and her members must accomodate the times. Fears are elicited... the fringe; religious zealots conjuring unsettling images- people nothing like us. But, yes, it was none other than Peter who wrote perhaps the most damning description of the devil. He who had betrayed his friend had no doubts.

  • Posted by: shrink - Nov. 21, 2013 7:19 AM ET USA

    Evidently, Bp Paprocki believes that exorcism must occur before evangelization.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 20, 2013 8:14 PM ET USA

    Our Lord declared that Satan had been a liar and a murderer from the beginning. Mysterious and ominous words. Many look for the spectacular when it comes to the diabolical. This is welcome by the enemy. Confusion obfuscates truth; souls lose contact with reality. The work of grace is frustrated. Confusion does quite nicely when it comes to injury- even death- to intellects, wills, and ultimately hearts and souls. Thus the truth is quite truly nothing to fear. This reality is essential.