Thomas Paprocki

  (Redirected from Thomas J. Paprocki)

Thomas John Joseph Paprocki (born August 5, 1952) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who serves as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.[1]

Thomas Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield
AppointedApril 20, 2010
InstalledJune 22, 2010
PredecessorGeorge Joseph Lucas
OrdinationMay 10, 1978
by John Patrick Cody
ConsecrationMarch 19, 2003
by Francis Eugene George, Raymond E. Goedert, Ricardo Watty Urquidi
Personal details
Birth nameThomas John Joseph Paprocki
Born (1952-08-05) August 5, 1952 (age 68)
Chicago, Illinois
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Chicago
MottoLex Cordis Caritas
Styles of
Thomas Joseph Paprocki
Coat of arms of Thomas Joseph Paprocki.svg
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop
Ordination history of
Thomas Paprocki
Priestly ordination
Ordained byJohn Patrick Cody
DateMay 10, 1978
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorFrancis Eugene George
Co-consecratorsRaymond Emil Goedert, Ricardo Watty Urquidi
DateMarch 19, 2003
PlaceHoly Name Cathedral, Chicago, IL

Early life and educationEdit

The third of nine children, Thomas Paprocki was born in Chicago, Illinois; he has six brothers and two sisters.[2] A lifelong fan of hockey - who is sometimes referred to in the media as the "Holy Goalie"[3][4][5][6][7] -, he began playing at a young age in the basement of his father's drugstore and supports the Chicago Blackhawks.[2] He graduated from Quigley Preparatory Seminary South in 1970, and then entered Niles College, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974.[8]

From 1974 to 1979, he studied at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor's in Sacred Theology (1976), Master's in Divinity (1978), and Licentiate in Sacred Theology (1979).[8]

Ordination and ministryEdit

Paprocki was ordained to the priesthood by John Cardinal Cody on May 10, 1978,[1] and then served as associate pastor at St. Michael's Church in South Chicago until 1983. In 1981, he earned his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law and founded the Chicago Legal Clinic to assist the working poor and disadvantaged.[9][10]

Paprocki served as administrator of St. Joseph Church in Chicago from 1983 to 1986 and as vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago from 1985 to 1987.[8] He then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained a Licentiate of Canon Law (1989) and a Doctor of Canon Law degree (1991). Upon his return to the United States, he was named chancellor of the archdiocese in 1992 and later pastor of St. Constance Church in 2000.[9] In 2013 he received an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.[11]

Auxiliary Bishop of ChicagoEdit

On January 24, 2003, Paprocki was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Vulturaria by Pope John Paul II.[1] He received his episcopal consecration on the following March 19 from Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., with bishops Raymond E. Goedert and Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S., serving as co-consecrators.[1] As an auxiliary, he served as Episcopal Vicar for Vicariate IV, and as the cardinal's liaison for Polonia and for health and hospital affairs.[8] He is also a member of the boards of directors of the Polish American Association and the Polish American Leadership Initiative.[8]

When the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, issued an executive order in 2005 requiring all pharmacists in the state to dispense prescription contraceptives,[12] Paprocki condemned the order in Blagojevich's presence, saying, "I am dismayed that our secular society has reached the point that individuals are being required by law to violate their personal religious beliefs in order to accommodate the selfish demands of special interest groups."[13]

In November 2008, Paprocki spoke out against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), saying, "It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals entirely. It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."[14] In a subsequent interview with The Chicago Tribune, he reaffirmed his position, saying, "If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we'd have to close our hospitals."[15]

When remarking about who was responsible for the sexual abuse crises in the Catholic Church, Paprocki said that the devil was the principal force behind the lawsuits.[16]

Bishop of SpringfieldEdit

On April 20, 2010, Paprocki was appointed as the Bishop of Springfield by Pope Benedict XVI.[17] He was installed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on June 22, 2010. In November 2010, he organized a conference on exorcism.[18]

In April 2012, Paprocki was named as part of a three-member board of American Catholic Bishops charged by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) with a multi-year investigation into the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).[19] He coined the name of the Fortnight for Freedom, a campaign of the American bishops on behalf of religious liberty.[20]

Paprocki is Episcopal Board Chairman for the Catholic Athletes for Christ, and is the author of Holy Goals for Body and Soul.[21]


In September 2012, Paprocki wrote a column in his diocese's Catholic Times newspaper about the upcoming elections. He declared that voting for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are "intrinsically evil and gravely sinful" makes one "morally complicit" and places the eternal salvation of the soul in "serious jeopardy." His article went on at length discussing how in his view the Democratic Party embraced objectionable doctrines, such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Paprocki took notice of the Republican Party's support for capital punishment in murder cases, stating that this did not directly conflict with Church teaching. He also argued that party differences over caring for the poor and immigration were "prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils."[22]

Ahead of the 2016 elections, Paprocki denounced the Democratic Party for its "aggressive pro-abortion stance and activist agenda expanding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights," adding that Republicans "have not fared very well in these same areas." He wrote that Democrats, who "articulate strong concern for the poor," have made little progress in fighting poverty. Paprocki said that Catholics could choose not to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.[23]

Opposition to abortionEdit

In February 2018, Paprocki officially upheld a previous decision to bar U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a Catholic in his diocese, from receiving Holy Communion after the Senator voted against a 20-week abortion ban. "In April 2004, Sen. Durbin's pastor, then Msgr. Kevin Vann (now Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, CA), said that he would be reticent to give Sen. Durbin Holy Communion because his pro-abortion position put him outside of communion or unity with the Church's teachings on life," Paprocki said. "My predecessor, now Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, said that he would support that decision. I have continued that position." Paprocki said that the "provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart."[24]

On June 6, 2019, Paprocki issued a decree officially barring Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton from presenting themselves to receive the Eucharist on account of their role in Passing the Reproductive Health Act, which removes spousal consent and waiting periods for abortions. While singling out Madigan and Cullerton specifically, Paprocki also asked that other legislators who voted for the bill not present themselves for Communion either, stating that they had "cooperated in evil and committed grave sin."[25] Madigan stated that Paprocki had informed him earlier that he would be forbidden from taking the sacrament if he permitted the House to debate and vote on the measure, but that he chose to do so.[26]

Opposition to same-sex marriageEdit

In November 2013, Paprocki said that Satan was behind recent Illinois legalization of same-sex marriage and held an exorcism ceremony, during which he read the exorcism rite "in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage".[27]

On June 23, 2017 Paprocki instructed priests in his diocese to "deny Communion, last rites and funeral rites to people in same-sex marriages – unless they repent". He prohibited clergy and parish staff from either performing same-sex marriages or allowing wedding receptions to be hosted in any facilities or centres owned by the Catholic church.[28] This was followed by strong criticism. Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter called for Paprocki to be "sacked." Christopher Pett, incoming President of DignityUSA, described the decree as "mean-spirited and hurtful in the extreme." Paprocki defended his position as "a rather straightforward application of existing Church teaching and canon law."[29]

In July 2017, he stated publicly that Catholic politicians who have been involved in making same-sex marriage legal in the United States should refrain from Holy Communion until they had sought forgiveness in the confessional.[30]

Paprocki has been critical of the Jesuit priest James Martin, whose outreach to the LGBT community has drawn opposition from conservative Catholics.[31] According to Paprocki, Martin "correctly expresses God’s love for all people, while on the other, he either encourages or fails to correct behavior that separates a person from that very love. This is deeply scandalous in the sense of leading people to believe that wrongful behavior is not sinful."[32]

Opposition to labor unionsEdit

Paprocki dissented from the amicus brief filed by the Bishops' Conference in support of labor unions in the Janus case. The bishops had affirmed the Church's traditional teaching in support for unions, citing various Church documents. Paprocki disagreed with the amicus brief. He instead supported the mandatory open shop for public employers.[33] Paprocki has not been a visitor or spiritual guide at union halls but has collaborated with Legatus, and organization of Catholic corporate executives. He has also preached for lawyers and MBA executives.[34]

However, it must be said that Bishop Paprocki's stance makes a clear distinction in regards to unions: Although he did support the Janus ruling and respectfully rejected the USCCB's amicus brief, Paprocki did so in order to defend the conscience of the Catholic worker. Paprocki asserts that some labor unions support anti-Catholic stances; therefore, his approach defends the right of the worker to not support said groups that violate conscience. This distinction makes his opposition merely conditional; unions that are not contrary to Catholic teaching are not ruled out Ipso facto. The bishop explains this in a video he released, and he cites Pope Leo XIII's critical encyclical Rerum novarum paragraph 57 in order to show that although the Church has supported unions, said support has never been unconditional:[35]

"To sum up, then, We may lay it down as a general and lasting law that working men's associations should be so organized and governed as to furnish the best and most suitable means for attaining what is aimed at, that is to say, for helping each individual member to better his condition to the utmost in body, soul, and property. It is clear that they must pay special and chief attention to the duties of religion and morality, and that social betterment should have this chiefly in view; otherwise they would lose wholly their special character, and end by becoming little better than those societies which take no account whatever of religion. What advantage can it be to a working man to obtain by means of a society material well-being, if he endangers his soul for lack of spiritual food?"[36]

Criticism of sexual abuseEdit

In response to 2018 allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that Pope Francis coverruped up allegations of sexual abuse against former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Paprocki called on all Vatican officials, including Francis, to "make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when...and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised." Paprocki criticized Pope Francis for declining to answer a question about whether or not the accusations were true, saying, "Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate."[37]

Paprocki called for "public prayers of repentance and acts of atonement" after reports of widespread sexual abuse and coverrup in the Catholic Church.[38]


Coat of arms of Thomas Paprocki
The coat of arms was designed and adopted when he was installed as the Bishop of Springfield in Illinois
June 22, 2010
Arms impaled. Dexter: Or a cross throughout Azure; within the quarters four fountains, Proper, and at the center of the cross a crescent Argent. Sinister: Vert upon a Lattice Or an ogress charged with a cross patee throughout Argent; upon a chief Gules two pan-balances of the second below a heart of the third, encircled by thorns and enflamed of the second.
LEX CORDIS CARITAS - The law of the heart is love - This phrase, which is based on the texts from the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:33), Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 13:10) and the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on The Church (Lumen Gentium (LG-#9)).
The arms of his jurisdiction, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, is seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the design. The symbolism of the Diocese's arms is described here.
The right side of the arms is his personal arms. On a green field is seen a golden (yellow) lattice, a device in which many individual slats form a single, integrated device of strength, far greater than all of its components. By the use of this device, Bishop Paprocki expresses that all aspects of Christian life, theology, church law and civil law, social involvements, form a framework of the total Christian. On the lattice is displayed an ogress (a black circular device) on which is displayed a silver (white) cross pattée. The cross is the "clan symbol" of the Paprocki's family in Poland and by its use His Excellency acknowledges, with great love and devotion, the heritage that has come to him from his parents, John and Veronica (Bonat) Paprocki. The upper portion of the design, known as a "chief," is red and contains a Sacred Heart, in silver and gold. The Sacred Heart is placed above two pan-balances, the symbol of justice and law, emblematic of the fact that Bishop Paprocki is both a civil and a church (canon) lawyer.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Bishop Thomas John Joseph Paprocki". David M. Cheney. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Holy Goalie". USA Hockey Magazine.
  3. ^ Spearie, Steven. "The 'Holy Goalie': Bishop using hockey skills for charity". The State Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  4. ^ "The Holy Goalie: A Bishop's Experience". Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  5. ^ ""Holy Goalie" bishop runs hockey camp | Cool 93.9". Cool 93.9. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Holy Goalie' To Visit Blackhawks Practice". Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "Bishop Paprocki (@BishopPaprocki) | Twitter". Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Biographical Summary". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
  9. ^ a b "Pope Accepts Resignations of Chicago Auxiliaries, Names Three Others". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. January 24, 2003.
  10. ^ "Thomas Paprocki is named Advocates Man of the Year". Illinois Bar. Archived from the original on December 19, 2007.
  11. ^ "About Bishop Thomas John Paprocki". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  12. ^ "Gov. Blagojevich takes emergency action to protect women's access to contraceptives". Office of the Governor. Archived from the original on June 5, 2010.
  13. ^ "Bishop Thomas Paprocki - Diocese of Chicago". Episcopal Spine Alert. April 16, 2005. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2009.
  14. ^ Ertelt, Steven (November 11, 2008). "Catholic Bishops Urge Huge Anti-FOCA Campaign to Stop Abortion Expansion".
  15. ^ Brachear, Manya (November 11, 2008). "Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama". The Chicago Tribune.
  16. ^ Bruce Rushton (December 8, 2011). "Holy warrior: On the ice and in the pulpit, Bishop Thomas Paprocki takes hard shots". Illinois Times.
  17. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Laurie Goodstein (November 20, 1010). "For Catholics, Interest in Exorcism Is Revived". New York Times.
  19. ^ "Vatican Names Archbishop Sartain To Lead Renewal Of LCWR". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  20. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (June 13, 2012). "Bishops Defend Fight Against Obama's Policy on Birth Control Coverage". New York Times. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  21. ^ Graves, Jim (December 15, 2016). "Bishop Paprocki on sharing the Gospel, running marathons, and building a culture of life". The Catholic World Report. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  22. ^ "Bishop Paprocki warns of 'intrinsic evils' in Democratic platform". Catholic News Agency. September 27, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  23. ^ Spearie, Steven (October 9, 2016). "Bishop: Might be best for some Catholics to skip voting for president". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  24. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (February 23, 2018). "Durbin barred from Communion by Catholic bishop of Springfield". Washington Times. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  25. ^ "Bishop Paprocki: Illinois Catholic lawmakers who promoted or voted for extreme abortion legislation are not to receive Communion". Office of Communication - Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. June 6, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Malagón, Elvia (June 6, 2019). "Catholic bishop in Springfield: No communion for Madigan, Cullerton for supporting 'abominable' Illinois abortion rights bill". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "Illinois bishop plans gay-marriage exorcism". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  28. ^ "Illinois Bishop Decrees No Communion, Funeral Rites For Same-Sex Spouses". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  29. ^ Graves, Jim (June 28, 2017). "Bishop Paprocki responds to controversy, criticisms over decree on same-sex "marriage"". The Catholic World Report. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  30. ^ "U.S. Catholic Bishop: Politicians Who Made Gay 'Marriage' Legal Must Not Receive Communion". CNS News. July 24, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Martin, James (September 21, 2017). "I called for Christians to love gay people. Now the Catholic alt-right is taking revenge". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  32. ^ "After Chaput warning, bishops weigh in on Fr. James Martin". Catholic News Agency. September 20, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  33. ^ "Catholic bishops side with labor unions in Supreme Court case - Religion News Service". January 20, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  34. ^ "Speeches and Homilies". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  35. ^ IL, Diocese of Springfield in (July 5, 2018), I respectfully disagree, retrieved October 25, 2018
  36. ^ "Rerum Novarum (May 15, 1891) | LEO XIII". Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  37. ^ "Statement from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Regarding the Testimony of the Former Apostolic Nuncio". Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. August 28, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  38. ^ Spearie, Steven (September 8, 2018). "Local Catholics react to Bishop Paprocki's homily about sex abuse". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved April 26, 2020.

External linksEdit

Episcopal successionEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
George Joseph Lucas
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago
Succeeded by