SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An American bishop is voicing his disagreement with an official statement from the American bishops' conference.
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees cannot be required to pay fees for labor unions that they don't want to be a part of. The case, Janus v. AFSCME, had an Illinois state employee arguing that he should not be forced to pay union dues on the grounds that the union was giving money to political organizations with agendas contrary to his own politics.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed disappointment with the High Court's decision. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said in a USCCB statement dated June 27, "It is disappointing that today's Supreme Court ruling renders the long-held view of so many bishops constitutionally out-of-bounds, and threatens to 'limit the freedom or negotiating capacity of labor unions' (Caritas in Veritate, no. 25)."
Bishop Thomas Paprocki released a video on July 5 arguing against the USCCB's position and in favor of the Supreme Court's ruling. After explaining the Catholic position on labor unions, Bp. Paprocki said, "In this regard, then, unions should not expect the unquestionable support of the Church when their objectives are contrary to the duties of religion and morality."
He continued, "Today, a number of unions actively promote abortion rights. Three of the nation's biggest unions, including AFSCME, contributed $435,000 to the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, in 2014."
"Forcing public employees to subsidize unions that promote such immoral policies and activities is just not right," he added.
Earlier in the video, Bp. Paprocki cited a passage from Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum. The encyclical states:
It is clear that they [labor unions] 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?
Bishop Paprocki argued that the Supreme Court's decision in Janus v. AFSCME is in accord with Catholic social teaching because it enables public sector workers to withhold their money from unions whose agendas contradict "the duties of religion and morality."
The Springfield bishop is known for being staunchly faithful to Church teaching. In 2016, he stated that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine had an agenda which was opposed to Catholic belief. He said in a video, "Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidates for president and vice president, respectively, both hold stridently aggressive positions that promote intrinsically evil acts such as legal abortion and redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning."
In June 2017, Bp. Paprocki issued a decree "Regarding Same-sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues," which stated, "Given the objectively immoral nature of the relationship created by same-sex marriages, persons in such unions should not present themselves for Holy Communion, nor should they be admitted to Holy Communion."
Catholic teaching states clearly that homosexual behavior is a grave sin, and those culpable of grave sin commit another grave sin — sacrilege — when they receive the Eucharist.
But liberals, like pro-gay Jesuit celebrity priest Fr. James Martin, voiced their criticism of Bp. Paprocki's decree. The bishop responded in July 2017, "The fact that there would be such an outcry against this decree is quite astounding and shows how strong the LGBT lobby is both in the secular world, as well as within the Church."