A Catholic Bishop may have crossed the line Friday by saying that if Catholics vote Democratic, “their salvation may be in jeopardy.” In other words, vote Republican or you are going to hell.
Are these comments more fitting for the middle ages than in the post-Vatican II church? Did he cross the line?
What’s next, giving indulgences for contributing to the Republican Party or an Inquisition to purge the church of heretic Democrats?
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, head of the Diocese of Springfield, IL made the comments in a video, and in the Diocese Newspaper. The Bishop said that he was not telling the flock how to vote. But, telling them they will suffer eternal damnation if they vote for Democrats is akin to telling them how to vote. It would frankly scare the “hell” out of anyone, pun intended.
But before all Republicans start celebrating, the Bishop said the Log Cabin Republicans and pro-choice Republicans were evil also, and they will be keeping Democrats company in hell. Log Cabin Republicans are an organization of gay Republicans who think they can change their party’s views on gay rights by electing anti-gay Republicans.
In the Catholic Times, the official newspaper of the Springfield diocese, Bishop Paprocki uses the non- controversy about mentioning “God” in the Democratic Platform to argue that the Democrats are hostile to faith. “God” is included in the Platform, however.
Paprocki attacked Democrats for endorsing gay rights and opposing the criminalization of abortion. He said that the Democratic Party Platform was “intrinsically evil.” He said he read the Republican Party platform and found no evil lurking there– nothing that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin.” Non-serious sins, as he defines them, don’t count.
The Church believes contraception, abortion, and gay marriage are sins. But to say that just because a Catholic votes for a Democrat he or she is just as sinful as if they themselves had the abortion, or used the contraceptive device, or married someone of the same sex, is guilt by association. In the end, sin is a matter between the sinner and God.
There is a real hypocrisy here. Republicans generally support the death penalty. Most GOP politicians and voters support putting up an electric fence to keep Mexicans from entering the country illegally giving them a death sentence for wanting a better life for their children. The Church opposes the death penalty and considers murder to be a serious sin. Why are Catholics who vote for Republicans then not going to hell as well? Why does the Bishop not see any evil in that?
Furthermore, the Republican Budget will drop food stamps for millions of Americans who live in poverty; it will deny them medical care, housing, education. Is that not sinful as well? The USCCB called it immoral. I beg to differ with His Excellency; Jesus made it pretty clear that mistreating the poor is gravely wrong.
Paprocki concludes his video with a warning that “a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”
As a Catholic, I am offended and saddened by the Bishop’s comments. For him to say he found no evil in the Republican Platform contradicts statements made the USCCB who called the Ryan Budget ‘immoral.” The Republican Platform embraces the Ryan Budget and the anti-poor provisions contained in it. .Trying to say that something that is “immoral” is not “evil” is frankly a distinction without a difference.
Saying that if a Catholic is somehow complicit in evil for voting for a Democrat is absurd. That would be the same thing as saying a parish priest is complicit if someone he baptizes later commits murder.
Furthermore, where is the Church’s compassion and love for the people he calls sinners anyway? Are they not children of God? Does God not render judgment? Is he not a shepherd who is supposed to help lost sheep, offer them comfort and absolution, not hate and condemn them?
Bishop Paprocki went too far and owes all Catholics an apology. Until he treats all sins as evil, not just Democratic sins, we should consider him to be just another Republican operative spreading the party’s message albeit under the cloak of the clergy.
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