The Catholic Church’s Phoenix Diocese has selected an Illinois bishop who performed a long-distance exorcism on his state’s governor to speak at the “Red Mass” that marks the beginning of Arizona’s legislative session, The Arizona Daily Star reports.
The Church selected Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois to open the session. Last year, Paprocki conducted “prayers of supplication and exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage” on the day Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
“Be gone Satan, father of lies, enemy of human salvation,” Paprocki said at the ceremony. “Give way to Christ, in whom you found no trace of your works. Give way to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church, which Christ himself won by his blood.”
It was a “minor” exorcism — unlike the one Paprocki said he would have performed if he believed Governor Quinn had been “possessed by the Devil” — but it still rankled people like Arizona Representative Robert Meza (D-Phoenix), who said that the bishops should be taking their cues from Pope Francis.
“It’s out of character with what the pope has been saying,” the openly gay representative said, before adding, “but who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith? I would follow the pope’s lead instead of the bishop’s lead on this.”
Support for the Pope was bipartisan, as Representative Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) told The Daily Star that “I’m going to go with the pope” and his message to “grow our church and grow our understanding of God and not let anybody feel that they’re not worthy to be in front of God.”
The diocese defended its decision to invite Bishop Paprocki in a statement, saying that he is “a vocal defender of traditional marriage and conscience rights and he’s very outspoken.”