Canonist Ed Peters DESTROYS a clueless critic of Bp Paprocki

This is a sheer delight to read.  Dr Peters doesn’t offer an open combox, but I do!

Bp Paprocki’s norms on ‘same-sex marriage’

A few days ago, doubtless in response to pastoral questions he had been receiving from ministers in his local Church, Springfield IL Bp Thomas Paprocki issued diocesan norms regarding ministry toward persons who had entered a ‘same-sex marriage’. These norms, hardly remarkable for what they say, are nevertheless noteworthy for being necessary [What a crazy situation we are in.] and for Paprocki’s willingness to state them clearly while knowing what kind vilification he would suffer in their wake.

Predictably New Way’s [pro homosexual sex] Ministry attacked Paprocki’s norms using equally predictable language and arguments and by hosting a combox replete with personal attacks on the bishop. [Yes, that’s how they usually work.] All of this is sad, but none of it is newsworthy. Worth underscoring, though, is the glibness with which Robert Shine, an editor at New Ways, attempts to school Paprocki, of all people, on canon law, of all things. A little background. [Make some popcorn!]

Paprocki has, besides the master’s degree in theology that Shine claims, a further licentiate degree in theology and, even more, a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. While I can’t quite say that Paprocki “wrote the book” on the defense of rights in the Church, he certainly wrote a book on it, his 580 page doctoral dissertation, Vindication and Defense of the Rights of the Christian Faithful through Administrative Recourse in the Local Church (1993), which tome I can spy from my desk right now. And before his canon law studies, Paprocki had already earned a civil law degree from DePaul University and had centered his legal practice around services to the poor.

And now Shine (sporting zero legal credentials) is going to tell Paprocki how canon law should be understood? Okay … [Get your popcorn out of the microwave.]

According to Shine, among the “other things wrong with Paprocki’s new guidelines” is their use of Canon 1184 which, as Shine correctly notes, restricts ecclesiastical funeral rites for, among others, “manifest sinners” whose funerals would provoke scandal. [Here we go!] But then Shine attempts to explain what Canon 1184 means by the phrase “manifest sinners”.

Per Shine, “It is discrimination to target LGBT people when, in a certain sense, all Catholics could be deemed ‘manifest sinners.’” Channeling Fr. James Martin’s outrageous claim that “Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful”, [Are we tired of him yet?] Shine apparently thinks that, because it is manifest that everyone sins, everyone’s sins must be “manifest”. But Paprocki, having actually studied canon law, knows what canon law means by the phrase “manifest sinners”.

Paprocki knows, for example, that the CLSA New Commentary (2001) discussing Canon 1184 at p. 1412, understands one in “manifest sin” as one “publicly known to be living in a state of grave sin”. That’s a far cry from Shine’s rhetorical jab, delivered as if it were the coup de grace to Paprocki’s position, “Who among us, including Bishop Paprocki, does not publicly sin at different moments?” Hardly anyone, I would venture, and so would Paprocki. But the law is not directed at those who, from time to time, commit sin, even a public sin; it is concerned about those who make an objectively sinful state their way of life. [Gosh! What group loudly and incessantly does that these days?!?] Fumble that distinction, as Shine does, and one’s chances of correctly reading Canon 1184 drop to, well, zero.

Yet Shine goes on, thinking that offering some examples of supposedly-sinning Catholics who yet are not refused funeral rites should shame Paprocki into changing his policy, citing, among other debatables, “Catholics who … deny climate change.” Yes. Shine actually said that. And this sort of silliness is supposed to give a prelate like Paprocki pause? [LOL]

There are several other problems with Shine’s sorry attempts to explain the canon law of ecclesiastical funerals, but I want to end these remarks by highlighting a much more important point: Paprocki’s decree is not aimed at a category of persons (homosexuals, lesbians, LGBT, etc., words that do not even appear in his document) but rather, it is concerned with an act, a public act, an act that creates a civilly-recognized status, namely, the act of entering into a ‘same-sex marriage’. That public act most certainly has public consequences, some civil and some canonical.

Bp Paprocki, by long training and awesome office, understands what the consequences of ‘same-sex marriage’ are and are not and he is much more likely to be thinking clearly about them than is Mr Shine.

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  1. Peter Stuart says:

    My diocese is the home of so-called New Ways Ministry, and our cathedral is listed by them as a gay-friendly parish, which is true enough. If struggling SSA Catholics like me want the faithful Courage Apostolate we have to go someplace else. I wish Bishop Paprocki was our bishop.

  2. ChesterFrank says:

    Oh I do detest that buzzword “Climate Change” It is a buzz that has nothing to do with physical science, and everything to do with a liberal agenda. It is a deceptive code. As far as a practitioner of homosexuality receiving the rite of Christian burial? If they were baptized into the Church, why not? Everyone leaves this world far from being in perfect grace. The rite benefits not only the departed soul, but also those that those related to them, by birth or association. But to use a sacred rite, a sacred rite, as a tool for perversely political and an ideological agenda contrary to that rite? Wrong. It is a dishonor against the deceased, and their loved ones. Its disrespectful. It is a sin.

  3. rdb says:

    As members of our presbyteral council, we presented our bishop over ten scenarios regarding those who enter into SS “marriage” including this one. That was over four years ago and nothing has been done. This is the act of a true spiritual father. Thank you Bishop Paprocki.

  4. mthel says:

    Clearly Bp. Paprocki is doing something wrong… he “only” ordained 4 men to the priesthood this year in his tiny diocese of Springfield, IL.

  5. vox borealis says:

    The fruits of Fr. Martin keep on giving. “Everyone lives a sinful lifestyle” will, it seems, replace “who am I to judge” as the go to phrase.

  6. AndyMo says:

    “As far as a practitioner of homosexuality receiving the rite of Christian burial? If they were baptized into the Church, why not?”

    If I’m not mistaken, someone who has attempted to “marry” someone of the same sex has simulated the administration of a sacrament (the couple themselves being the ministers of that sacrament), which incurs excommunication latae setentiae.

    An excommunicated Catholic is barred from Christian Burial.

  7. sibnao says:

    Well, I would have thought that the very easiest way to explain to this editor, Mr. Shine, the difference between public sin and living in manifest public sin would be to remind him of Pope Francis’s excoriation of members of the Mafia! Didn’t he say that unless they repented they would go to hell?

    The difference of course is that Mr. Shine does not think that people living in same-sex “marriages,” knowing the Church’s teaching, need to repent or risk damnation. It no longer seems like a damnable sin. Woe to us all.

  8. ChesterFrank says:

    I might be wrong about this but I think Pope Francis can excommunicate Mafia members because he is the Pope. I recall reading that anyone baptized Catholic remains Catholic unless they are excommunicated, and the only one with the authority to excommunicate is the Pope. I think I read that in a church bulletin.

  9. vox borealis says:

    One remains Catholic even if excommunicated.

  10. iamlucky13 says:

    Many thanks to Dr. Peters for his competent and patient response. When I started reading the New Ways commentary, it went so far into the deep end, so fast, that I groaned at the thought of trying to keep up with all the errors, but Dr. Peters boiled it down to several of the more foundational errors, addressed those, and avoided getting bogged down in the minutiae.

    @ Chester Frank:
    I recall reading that anyone baptized Catholic remains Catholic unless they are excommunicated, and the only one with the authority to excommunicate is the Pope. I think I read that in a church bulletin.

    This is a common matter of confusion, but Catholics who are excommunicated remain Catholic. They are even still required to attend Mass and fulfill the other obligations of Catholics as they are able. They are under a penalty, however, intended to gravely emphasize to them the seriousness of their errors so that they might hopefully take equally seriously the need to correct those errors.

    My understanding is bishops also have the authority to issue excommunications, as well as to lift them, and as has been discussed a few times by Father Z, in some cases, such as abortion in the US, the priest is granted the faculty to lift specific excommunications.

  11. Grumpy Beggar says:

    @ Peter Stuart :

    Thank you for posting what you did.

    God Bless you.

  12. spock says:

    It is certainly very good that His Excellency Bishop Paprocki did this. Unambiguous action based on Unambiguous Doctrine. If they have an obstinate issue with it, let them pray someplace else

    Not too far from the Diocese of Springfield is the Archdiocese of Chicago. I recall that a few years ago, there were a group of people called “Rainbow Sashers” -or something like that- who would cause trouble for his Eminence Francis Cardinal George during the Holy Mass. Remember them ? Haven’t heard about them since His Eminence Blase Cardinal Cupich became head of that See. I must confess to an amount of curiosity as to how the new cardinal will handle them, especially in light of Bishop Paprocki’s recent actions…..

  13. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Fr. Martin has responded to the Good Bishop, and uses much of the same language as Robert Shine.

    “If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a “sign of unjust discrimination.”-Fr. Martin from the Washington Post


  14. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Thank you for this post. It gladdens my heart to see the good bishop doing his job (which, in his case, is not a surprise, but is still welcome). It further gladdens my heart to see other good people come to his defense.

    It reminds me, though, that I need to find and read a book I’ve heard of, called “The Charitable Anathema.” by Dietrich von Hildebrand.

  15. Joseph-Mary says:

    I about spit out my yogurt when I read about those “grave manifest sinners” who deny climate change!!! But good for Bishop to make a clear statement of truth. St. John the Baptist died to witness the truth of marriage. These days it seems politically incorrect to state many truths including the truth of what marriage is. Our bishops, golly even we little ones, are still called by our baptism and confirmation to do the same.. And in this intolerant society where so many go with the evil flow, those who speak the truth and act on truth will most likely be vilified and persecuted. That happens, sadly, even through and from those in the Church.

  16. ghp95134 says:

    All I can say is what Fr. Z has written on his right margin:

    Derukui wa utare!
    The nail that sticks out gets hammered.


    Dr. Edwards and His Excellency both wear spiritual helmets.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear iamlucky13,

    well, what you say about excommunications is generally true; but if the excommunication is for apostasy, heresy or schism and the excommunicated person is really guilty of that crime, then it does exclude from the Church, as it also used to do when issued with a “vitandus” clause.

    I do not know whether such folk is technically required to fulfil Church commandments, though.

  18. Imrahil says:

    Dear ChesterFrank,

    about the “being Catholic unless excommunicated” everything (as far as I see) has been said. But there is another Thing, not only the pope can excommunicate, but apart from the fact that in latae sentenitiae stuff one technically does this to oneself, even in court every bishop* can excommunicate, unless the defendant be a Cardinal, head of state, nuncio or bishop.

    [and also, in a canonical Trial, judicial vicar or assistant judicial vicar. I do not know whether in case of a manifest offense that needs no trial or only to fix an expiatory penalty, the general vicar may also do this.]

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  20. Semper Gumby says:

    In addition to Bishop Paprocki and the Chicago Cubs, Illinois is also a proud host to the John Deere Company- maker of heavy agricultural equipment and fine lawnmowers. One wonders if Dr. Peters has recently sojourned in Illinois, as he shredded Robert Shine’s article but good.

  21. JPK says:

    I was surprised that Fr Martin didn’t complain about public Catholics who support abortion on demand. That is, why should adamantly Pro-Abortion politicians be allowed the sacraments and practicing gays are not? I would love to see the cat-fight erupt over that.

  22. JohnServorum says:

    May I ask in where in either the Catechism or the Code of Canon Law we find denying climate change defined as living in a state of grave sin?
    I must have missed that passage.

  23. dallenl says:

    Is anyone surprised that this is the natural outgrowth of “who am I to judge”? One need not publicly judge people but actions are clearly another matter.

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