SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CNS) — Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield has issued a decree that people in same-sex marriages should not present themselves for holy Communion nor can they receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick or have a Catholic funeral unless they “have given some signs of repentance.”
The bishop said in the June 12 decree that no clergy or diocesan staff person or representative “is to assist or participate in the solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages, including providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events.”
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the union of one woman and one man. Canon law prohibits Catholic clergy from performing a marriage of two people of the same sex.
“The church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation, to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state,” Bishop Paprocki said.
The decree was sent to priests, deacons, seminarians and diocesan staff, explaining that the norms on same-sex marriage and related pastoral issues it outlined are diocesan policy.
Bishop Paprocki also decreed that no Catholic facility or property is to be used for solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages or hosting receptions for such marriages. He said that no sacred vessels, vestments or liturgical books can be used in such cases.
The bishop advised pastors who are aware of someone in a same-sex marriage to address the issue privately, “calling them to conversion and advising them not to present themselves for holy Communion until they have been restored to communion with the church through the sacrament of reconciliation.”
The decree allows for children of Catholic parents publicly living in a same-sex marriage to receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, first Communion and confirmation. However, the decree said that a person living in a same-sex marriage cannot be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or be confirmed in the church “unless he or she has withdrawn from the objectively immoral relationship.”
Individuals in a same-sex marriage also will not be permitted to serve in any public liturgical ministry such as a reader or extraordinary minister of holy Communion, the decree said.
The bishop said that children of people in a same-sex marriage should not be deprived of admission to a Catholic school or catechetical or formation programs. He added that children in such programs will be “instructed according to the church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality in their fullness.”
Bishop Paprocki reminded those to whom the decree was addressed that anyone participating in ministry in the church must be “respectful, compassionate and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in faith.”
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