Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., walked into a beehive when he agreed to speak about same-sex marriage before a small audience in Phoenix over the weekend. But at least the bishop was there, taking the stings.
Paprocki joined Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a longtime advocate for gay and lesbian people, on the stage Friday in front of about 150 people at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ.
The presentation, organized by Robert Blair Kaiser and his group, Jesuit Alumni in Arizona, featured opening remarks from Paprocki and Gramick, then questions from the audience.
Paprocki understood he would be facing a challenging, if not hostile, audience. Recent public opinion polls have shown the majority of Catholics now support same-sex marriage.
Paprocki told the audience that the murder of his former church secretary, Mary Stachowicz, whose killer was a gay man, got little media attention compared to the 1998 homicide of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teen killed in a hate crime. Paprocki said the power of the gay lobby and favorable media reaction accounted for the difference.
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He said the “gay activist lobby” forced the issue on the church and put the church in a defensive position. Still, he said, the church has one position, and it does not change.
“This event was billed as ‘Two Catholic Views of Gay Marriage,’ ” he said. “But there is only one view that is authentically Catholic. The other view is dissenting.”
He quoted from Pope John Paul II’s letters and teachings and added that marriage is defined by “the potential to bring forth human life.”
As Paprocki was speaking, one audience member, Anne Gray of Scottsdale, Ariz., shouted, “That’s insulting.” Paprocki ignored her.
He said if same-sex marriage is allowed, sadomasochism or other practices should be, too.
“If there is no moral truth, only alternatives, then everything should be OK,” he said.
Gramick reflected on changes in her own attitudes, attitudes of the public and attitudes of the church hierarchy. She said more and more church leaders are moving toward support of at least civil unions.
Referring to Paprocki’s remark that morality cannot be based on polls, she said, “We may not legislate on the basis of polls, but they tell us what people are thinking.”
She said polls show Catholics’ opinions have moved from opposition to same-sex marriage to approval in a short time because nearly everyone has a gay friend, family member or business associate.
– more at National Catholic Reporter.
- “The revolution of family” and the Catholic Response (queeringthechurch.com)
- Royal backing for gay marriage – 1642! (queeringthechurch.com)