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A Prayerful Response

By John Freml, DignityUSA member

Cold temperatures and rain did not stop a group of intrepid Catholic marriage equality supporters from gathering outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois, on November 20, for a peaceful vigil in opposition to diocesan bishop Thomas Paprocki's "Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-sex Marriage." The bishop held the service to coincide with Governor Pat Quinn’s signing of the Illinois marriage equality bill into law. At the height of the vigil, approximately twenty people could be heard singing a hymn of openness and affirmation as observers of the exorcism exited the cathedral.

While some participants held signs with slogans such as "Jesus had two dads," and "The only thing being exorcised here today are good Catholics," others simply held photographs of gay and lesbian loved ones. One priest who walked by the vigil even asked some of the participants to pray for him. In recent years, the Springfield diocese has been a particularly unfriendly place for LGBT Catholics and their families, so this vigil was especially meaningful to those who attended. It was also a source of empowerment for many in attendance, with new discussions starting on how to work for change in the Church locally.