SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued a directive to LGBTQ Catholics and pastoral ministers entitled “Same-Sex Marriage Policies Decree 6-12-2017” which lays out how to handle this issue in “ecclesial life,” New Ways Ministry reported.

In the decree, he asserts that same-sex couples should not receive or be admitted to communion because “their relationships are of an ‘objectively immoral nature,’” New Ways added.

Not only this, but couples would be denied “ecclesiastical funeral rites” if they do not repent prior to death. If this was not enough, the decree goes on to say that same-sex couples are not to be permitted to serve in liturgical ministry, nor as a sponsor for the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation. Also, they cannot be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults or receive the Sacrament of Confirmation unless one or both in the couple “withdraw from the objectively immoral relationship.”

New Ways further reported that church workers who act in a professional capacity are forbidden to participate in same-sex weddings and that church property cannot be used, along with blessed items which have been dedicated for use in Catholic worship. In addition, couples’ marriages are forbidden to be blessed.

However, children of same-sex couples can be accepted for Sacraments of Initiation and they can be admitted to Catholic religious education and schools with a caveat that their families “must agree to abide by the Family School Agreement.”

Pastoral ministers have been threatened with punishment if they violate any of the decreed rules.

New Ways Executive Director Francis DeBernardo responded to Paprocki’s directives saying that the decree “has been received by Catholics across the nation with one of the strongest negative reactions that I have witnessed in almost 25 years of ministry with the LGBT community in the Church.” He added, “Catholics just do not understand how such regulations correlate with a Church that preaches love and inclusion.”

Another appeal came from FutureChurch Executive Director Deborah Rose-Milavec which urged Bishop Paprocki to “rescind his harmful decree barring lesbian and gay couples in civil marriages from communion and Catholic funerals and calls on him to follow Pope Francis’s lead in becoming more loving, accepting, and welcoming members of the Body of Christ. … FutureChurch supports LGBTQI Catholics and the Catholic parents, family and friends of LGBTQI Catholics and ask those who disagree with the bishop’s decree to respond honestly and respectfully by contacting him” via email address at tjpaprocki@dio.org.

info: newwaysministry.org.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.