BURLINGTON, Vt - Truth Wins Out slammed Springfield, Illinois Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki today after the prelate released a video message in which he implied that, because the Democratic Party is pro-choice and supports marriage equality, casting one's vote for a Democratic candidate threatens one's eternal soul. After specifically pointing out what he called the "intrinsic evils" endorsed by the Democratic Party platform, the prelate told his flock, "...a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy."
"We are incredibly alarmed by the blatant politicization of the Catholic pulpit in this election year," said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out. "The bishops are trying to turn Catholic parishes into political precincts."
"This is a contemptible and transparent attempt by Bishop Paprocki to use fear to bully and manipulate Catholics into voting for the GOP," added John Becker, TWO's Director of Communications. "It's incredibly clear: in their crusade against the civil rights of LGBT people, the American Catholic bishops have essentially jumped into bed with the Republican Party in a truly unholy alliance."
TWO also questioned the timing of Bp. Paprocki's video as it became public just 40 days before the November elections, at a time when political campaigning has reached a fever pitch.
"Bishop Paprocki's timing is dubious and highly questionable," said Besen. "It's hard to believe that the release of such a video so close to the election happened by chance. If there is indeed a concerted effort on the part of Catholic bishops to meddle in election-year politics, the Church needs to be investigated for repeatedly violating its tax-exempt status."
Paprocki's video is just the latest in a long string of anti-gay activities on the part of Catholic leaders:
The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, is sending out a letter to every Catholic household in that state, asking them to vote yes on a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment on the ballot this November and urging them to donate money to the main group working to ensure its passage. Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt has also injected a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Mass, ordered his priests to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes - at parish expense - for the express purpose of drumming up support for the amendment, attempted to silence any dissenters within the clerical ranks, mandated marriage discrimination lectures in Catholic schools across the archdiocese, and caused pro-equality lay employees to fear for their jobs. In 2010, the Catholic Conference mailed an anti-gay DVD to all 400,000 Catholic households in Minnesota.
Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska recently sent a letter to every parish priest in his diocese in which he gave them permission to devote parish time and resources to an anti-LGBT group that's gathering signatures in order to force a referendum on Omaha's sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance, with the goal of overturning the law.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop-elect of San Francisco, said that gay and lesbian Catholics in sexual relationships of any kind should not present themselves for the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Newark, New Jersey Archbishop John Myers equated same-sex marriage with incest in a pastoral statement earlier this week, saying that Catholics who support marriage equality are unfit to partake in the Eucharist and should "refrain from receiving Holy Communion."
Last Sunday Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who came under fire last year for comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan, used his homily at a Mass celebrating couples' golden anniversaries to take a swipe at marriage equality and trivialize the relationships and marriages of loving, committed same-sex couples, characterizing them as merely "friendships."
Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, recently posted a video message in which he ominously warned that society "would be harmed beyond repair" if voters in Washington upheld that state's marriage equality law in the November election.
This summer, the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts backed out of a real estate agreement after it found out the buyers were a gay couple, possibly violating state law in the process.
Catholic high schools and universities now routinely rescind speaking invitations to LGBT people and even straight allies.
Pope Benedict XVI endorsed the American bishops' anti-LGBT efforts in an address at the Vatican in March.
Also in March, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento de-funded a local nonprofit agency serving that city's homeless population after finding out that the agency's newly-hired (non-Catholic) director supports marriage equality.
Earlier this year, a Catholic priest in Maryland denied a lesbian woman communion at her mother's funeral.
An openly gay music teacher at a St. Louis-area Catholic school was fired in February after an archdiocesan official overheard him talking with co-workers about his upcoming New York wedding to his partner of nearly twenty years.
In November, Dan Avila, then serving as the USCCB's "Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family," resigned in disgrace after TWO and many other groups condemned him for writing that homosexuality was caused by Satan entering the wombs of pregnant mothers and messing with their hormones.
Last year, as lawmakers in New York debated a marriage equality law, now-Cardinal Timothy Dolan equated allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style communist dictatorship and compared marriage equality with incest and polygamy. After the law passed, Dolan complained that he had been tricked by pro-equality politicians and claimed that churches in his diocese were being threatened with lawsuits intended to force them to perform same-sex weddings, despite the fact that New York's marriage equality law explicitly prohibits such suits.
"It is the height of arrogance for prelates like Bp. Thomas Paprocki to use the power of the pulpit for partisan political purposes," said Becker. "A church that protected pedophile priests has no moral authority whatsoever to condemn LGBT people or their healthy, adult relationships, nor does it have the right to order Catholics to vote to support anti-gay oppression."
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to create a world where LGBT people can live openly, honestly and true to themselves. TWO monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their lies, and exposes their leaders. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating, and fighting for LGBT equality.