An Illinois Roman Catholic bishop is calling on priests to deny Holy Communion and funeral rights to gay men and lesbians who are not celibate.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield is an outspoken opponent of marriage equality.
In a decree issued last week, Paprocki claimed that the church has “the serious obligation to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state,” which it says excludes gay couples.
Gay men and lesbians who are married should not be “admitted to Holy Communion” given “the objectively immoral nature” of their union, the decree states.
“In danger of death, a person living publicly in a same-sex marriage may be given Holy Communion in the form of Viaticum if he or she expresses repentance for his or her sins.”
Paprocki added that married gay persons cannot participate in other church sacraments, such as serving as a sponsor of baptism or confirmation, “unless he or she has withdrawn from the objectively immoral relationship.”
Paprocki added that Catholics in a same-sex marriage should be denied funeral rites unless they showed “some signs of repentance before their death.”
Christ Prett, president of DignityUSA, an LGBT-inclusive group, called the document “mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme.”
Paprocki, 64, was a vocal opponent of Illinois' passage of a law four years ago that extended marriage to gay couples, going so far as to perform an exorcism against same-sex marriage.
At the time, Paprocki said the ceremony was about love: “Being opposed to things that are sinful, that's actually a very loving thing.”