Two years after the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., has issued a decree instructing his priests to not only refuse to perform gay marriage services but to deny Holy Communion, last rites, and funeral services to members of same-sex couples who don’t express "repentance before death." In the decree, Bishop Thomas Paprocki calls marriage a "covenant between one man and one woman" and the Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges decision a "reversal of millennia of legal and judicial recognition of the marital union." When Illinois made gay marriage legal four years ago, Paprocki performed a public exorcism in response, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Paprocki's decree instructs that children of same-sex couples can be baptized and may receive first communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation but that the child's parents will not be allowed to serve as sponsors in those rites. The Washington Post reports Paprocki emailed his decree to clergy and staff last week, sparking anger among some church officials and Catholic LGBTQ activists hoping to build on the more liberal teachings of Pope Francis, who wrote last summer that while the church would continue to prohibit gay marriage, the clergy should not use "moral laws" like a weapon, reported the Post at the time. Paprocki completed his decree by saying that "while being clear and direct about what the Church teachers, our pastoral ministry must always be respectful, compassionate, and sensitive." (Read more gay marriage stories.)