7:01 a.m. CST, November 21, 2013
Bishop Thomas Paprocki spoke Latin to send the message, "Be gone, Satan, father of lies, enemy of human salvation. Give way to Christ."
The head of the Springfield Diocese delivered his remarks to a large crowd of worshippers in the cavernous Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception only blocks from the Capitol, where lawmakers approved the same-sex marriage legislation two weeks ago.
"I exorcise you, every unclean sprit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ," Paprocki said during the hourlong ceremony 200 miles from the bill-signing celebration in Chicago.
The exorcism performed is known as a minor one in the pantheon of the practice, said Paprocki, who noted similar renouncements of the devil in the acts of baptisms and confirmations.
"I'm not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a 'major exorcism,' but all of us are certainly subject to the devil's evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil," Paprocki said.
Afterward, the bishop said he did not expect people to see instant results, restating a point he made during the service that Hollywood had sensationalized exorcisms.
But he noted that the legalization of abortion 40 years ago under Roe v. Wade did not silence the opposition to the practice, and he held out hope that one day the same-sex marriage law would be repealed.
In opening a service titled "Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage," Paprocki said he was speaking with "great reluctance."
"I did not seek to enter any controversy, and I don't relish being part of one," he said. "But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers."
While protesters stood in the chilly rain, Paprocki told his flock sitting in wooden pews that his position was not that of a "self-righteous saint" but of a sinner.
He warned that "legal redefinition of marriage is contrary to God's plan" in which marriage should be only between a man and woman.
"Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality," Paprocki said.
He maintained his remarks "are not meant to demonize anyone, but are intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the church."
Yet Paprocki also charged that "politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin."
"We must pray for forgiveness of these sins and deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church," Paprocki said.
The bishop said the church "stands ready to extend God's mercy to those who confess their sins with true repentance."
There is a "key point which the secularists are missing: They think that stressing God's mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God's mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness," he said.