Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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August 04, 2019
I was in California twice in the past two weeks. First, I concelebrated the Solemn Mass of Dedication of Christ Cathedral with Bishop Kevin Vann in the Diocese of Orange on July 17. Then I participated in the Napa Institute’s Annual Conference July 22-27. There were several of us from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois at the dedication of Christ Cathedral in a show of support for Bishop Vann, a native son of our diocese, who served in various capacities in our Diocesan Curia and in several parishes, most notably as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Decatur and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield. The following week I participated in the Napa Institute’s Annual Conference. We spoke of the various measures that have been adopted by the Holy See, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and in our respective dioceses to address the scandals that have been in the news during the past year.
July 21, 2019
The phrase, “If you see something, say something,” has also made its way into safe environment training programs to encourage people to report suspected sexual abuse of minors. In fact, state law mandates some people who work with children to report suspected child abuse, such as teachers, school administrators, healthcare practitioners, law enforcement personnel, social service and child-care workers, as well as clergy (except when revealed in sacramental confession). While reporting suspected abuse and suspicious activity can help prevent crimes, care must be taken to make sure that such suspicions are not spurious, given the harm to a person’s good name and reputation that can come from false accusations. Suspicious situations should also be brought to the attention of the proper authorities, lest the suspicions become simply the subject of idle chatter, habitual gossip, and rumor-mongering.
July 07, 2019
This past June 22 marked the ninth anniversary of my installation as bishop of our Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. That day was also the feast day of my patronal saints: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. It was a special blessing to mark this occasion by visiting some of the historic places associated with these two great martyrs in their homeland of England. The main reason for my visit to England was to deliver two lectures at the University of Oxford.
June 23, 2019
During the week of June 10-14, I was in Baltimore attending the meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), during which we made substantial progress in addressing the recent issues that have confronted us in the church. The outcome of these meetings was that we voted to approve directives designed to implement the document Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world), issued by Pope Francis in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. We also approved the document, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments and the Protocol regarding Available Nonpenal Restrictions on Bishops who have resigned or have been removed due to misconduct or negligence in office. In addition, we voted to authorize the implementation of a third-party reporting system that would allow people to make confidential reports of abuse complaints against bishops through a toll-free telephone number and online.
June 09, 2019
A new divide is separating our nation again between North and South, this time over the issue of abortion. In recent weeks, we have seen governors in states like Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Louisiana sign legislation banning abortion at various stages, while states like New York and Illinois have passed laws purported to declare abortion a fundamental right at all stages of pregnancy, right up to the moment of birth. In the 19th century, it was the North that was on the right side of morality in opposing the evil of slavery. Now, in the 21st century, it is the South that is on the right side of morality in seeking to outlaw the evil of abortion. On May 31, shortly before they were scheduled to adjourn at midnight, the Illinois Senate approved Senate Bill 25, which, among other things, purports to declare abortion to be a fundamental right, requires private insurance to pay for abortions, and declares that an unborn baby does not have independent rights under the laws of this state.
May 26, 2019
Visiting Resurrection Cemetery always brings back many memories for me. When I was a child, my family would often go to Resurrection Cemetery on Sunday afternoons because my grandmother wanted to visit the grave of her husband, my grandfather, John H. Paprocki, Sr., who died a few years before I was born. To this day, I still remember the route we took through the cemetery visiting various graves. At each stop we would get out of the car, stand by the graves, and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Eternal Rest for the repose of their souls. Years later, whenever I go to Resurrection Cemetery, I follow this same pattern of visiting graves and praying for the dead, except that these graves now include both of my parents.
May 12, 2019
Illinois politicians in recent years have saddled our state with a series of serious evils, among them being taxpayer-funded abortion, same-sex marriage, and the widespread proliferation of video gambling. Now Illinois’ new governor, J.B. Pritzker, was joined by Democratic lawmakers in Chicago on May 4 to announce plans to legalize recreational marijuana in the state starting next year. This follows their recent introduction of extreme pro-abortion legislation seeking to make good on Gov. Pritzker’s pledge to make Illinois the most pro-abortion state in the Union. It seems that Pritzker and like-minded lawmakers are intent on driving Illinois deeper into a cesspool of immorality. I have joined the rest of the bishops of Illinois in voicing our opposition to the legalization of marijuana.
April 28, 2019
It seems that some people, including a good number of Christians, think the reference to Christ’s resurrection is just a metaphor, that is, they would say that Jesus did not actually rise from the dead, but was “resurrected” only in the metaphorical sense that he was kept alive in the memories of his followers. The problem with this understanding of our Lord’s resurrection is that it does not make sense in light of the experience of the first Christians, especially their martyrdom. People do not die for metaphors. The first Christians went willingly to their deaths rather than deny the truthful reality that Jesus had physically risen from the dead. If they were simply speaking metaphorically that Jesus was still alive in their thoughts and memories, and that the life they hoped for after their own deaths was only a figure of speech, I do not think they would have been so hopeful and confident about the implications of their dying as martyrs.
April 14, 2019
Here in Illinois, some Democrat lawmakers are pushing House Bills 2467 and 2495, and Senate Bills 1594 and 1942. Among other things, these bills would make abortion a fundamental right and would repeal parental notification, which is currently required in Illinois when a minor seeks an abortion. This past March 28, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and I, along with the diocesan bishops of the other four Catholic dioceses in Illinois, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Springfield to express our opposition to these extreme proposals. It is not often that all of the bishops gather at the Capitol, so the extraordinary presence of all six diocesan bishops in Illinois was intended to send a clear message that we ― as a church ― are united in our opposition to these abortion bills and we call on all people of good will to oppose them. As we enter into our Holy Week observances, commemorating Our Savior’s passage from his death on Good Friday to the new life of his resurrection on Easter Sunday gives us hope that our culture of death can be transformed into a culture of life.
March 31, 2019
I am very grateful to all those who expressed their condolences and prayers on the death of my mother, Veronica Mary Paprocki, who passed from this life to eternal life on March 13. Her funeral took place on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. I would like to share with you a few excerpts from my homily for her Mass of Christian Burial.