Illinois became the 16th state to formally legalize gay marriage on Wednesday when Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. While some were pleased with the development, others were not so content.
Among the detractors was Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a Catholic leader who held a public exorcism following Quinn's signing. Paprocki performed the invocation at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Ill., making known his views against same-sex marriage.
During the public event, he wore a purple robe and told the 500 person audience that, while he wasn't attempting to say that Quinn or anyone else is literally possessed, he wanted to tackle and confront society's evils, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"I did not seek to enter any controversy and I don't relish being part of one," he told the audience. "But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers."
Despite Paprocki's opposition to gay marriage, the bishop also encouraged respect and sensitivity in the way that believers treat gays and lesbians.
"The church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion," he added.
From there, he spoke about purging evil and darkness and took aim at the devil's purported influence on the world. He referred to Satan as a "cunning serpent" who deceives the human race.
"I exorcise you, every unclean spirit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort, and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ," he said during the exorcism and prayer. "Be uprooted and put to flight from the Church of God from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine lamb."
He continued, "Be gone Satan, father of lies, enemy of human salvation. … Give way to Christ, in whom you found no trace of your works. Give way to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church, which Christ himself won by his blood."
The Chicago Tribune reported that the "it's unclear if Paprocki is exorcising the law, the state, the diocese or the legislature," but a spokesperson for the Diocese of Springfield told the outlet "minor exorcisms" are performed frequency in the church.
"These prayers that the bishop is using are from the rite of exorcism, but they are specifically designed to pray for the limitation of the work of the devil and the work of evil in the world," spokeswoman Kathie Sass told the Tribune. "This is not a Hollywood version."
Here's how Paprocki described the invocation and exorcism he offered (read his entire exorcism commentary here):
"Perhaps a large part of the negative reaction is because most people don't know what the Church teaches about exorcism, since they get their misleading information and sensational ideas on this mainly from Hollywood. The fact is that a 'minor exorcism' takes place in every Baptism and Confirmation ceremony when we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. This prayer service will be along those lines. I'm not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a 'Major Exorcism,' but all of us are certainly subject to the devil's evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil."
The event sparked protest from people coalescing outside the church. But this isn't the first time Paprocki has sparked controversy.
In a column and video posted in Sep. 2012 by Catholic Times, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Springfield, Paprocki targeted portions of the Democratic platform that “explicitly endorse intrinsic evils and warned that supporting certain politicians could place peoples’ “eternal salvation…in jeopardy.”
While he noted that it’s not his job to to tell people who do vote for, the faith leader said that he has a duty to speak out about moral issues. Despite his stated problems with the Democratic Party platform — the initial removal of God, its stance abortion and its support of gay marriage – Paprocki spoke relatively favorably of the Republican platform.
“I have read the Republican Party platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin,” he proclaimed at the time.
Featured image via Catholic Times/YouTube