If you want to know what an apostle looks like, his picture is to the right.
That’s Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. Among other things, he’s a former hockey goalie, which probably gave him pretty good training for what he went through at a church gathering in Phoenix over the weekend.
Bishop Paprocki took part in the event, billed as “Two Catholic Views of Gay Marriage,” along with renowned feminist nun and Catholic dissenter Sr. Jeannine Gramick.
It was clear from the outset that the vast majority of the audience had come looking for a fight, eager to launch every weapon in their arsenal straight at this lone Catholic bishop and the truth he stood up for. They came ready for battle.
But so did he.
Facing what can only be described as an all out attack, Bishop Paprocki stood strong and defended the Church and her teaching against the fiercest blows the crowd could hurl at him. The enemies of marriage were rabid and relentless, assaulting the bishop with rude interruptions, sneering sarcasm, and hostile questions clearly designed to trip him up or catch him in a contradiction.
They failed, miserably.
I haven’t seen a video of the event, and don’t even know if there is one, but I’ve excerpted an article by Michael Clancy of the Arizona Republic for some of the better quotes by Bishop Paprocki:
“This event was billed as ‘Two Catholic Views of Gay Marriage,’ ” he said. “But there is only one view that is authentically Catholic. The other view is dissenting.”
He said if same-sex marriage is allowed, sadomasochism or other practices should be, too. “If there is no moral truth, only alternatives, then everything should be OK,” he said.
He said those who oppose the church on the issue should become Protestants. “They do a lot of good things too,” he said.
Lord, send us more bishops like Bishop Paprocki!
Bishops are called successors of the apostles. When we consider the Church’s teaching on apostolic succession, we think not only of the first bishops, the apostles themselves, but also of the continuous line of bishops from then until now – that unbroken line of holy men that have stood tall and protected the Church through the ages, from Peter and Paul to Augustine and Athanasius, from James and Andrew to John Fisher and Thomas Becket.
But perhaps, sadly, the last half century has left us with a sense of longing when it comes to this leadership we seek and depend on among our bishops. Not to say there haven’t been a number of worthy, even great bishops in this time, maybe more even than we were willing to acknowledge. But we’ve also seen the tragic consequences of an episcopacy seemingly made up more of comfortable clerics concerned with administration and management than men of action who take seriously their charge of defending the Faith with ready and steadfast courage when she comes under fire, and shepherding the Church with clear voices of conviction and authority as she carries out her mission on earth.
But now, that’s changing.
As the next couple decades unfold, it will become increasingly clear that among the greatest legacies of John Paul and Benedict is the group of bishops they appointed, especially in the United States. And as the Church is besieged more and more by an increasingly hostile culture that seeks to demoralize and discourage those who would stand up for the truth, we’re going to start seeing more instances of bishops being specifically targeted for attack. Sheep without shepherds are the wolves’ easiest prey.
This is why Bishop Paprocki’s brave stand in Phoenix is so important. It sends a message, not only to the faithful who have so eagerly awaited it, but to the enemies of the Church as well:
The bishops are back.