Mon - Thurs: 8:00 - 5:15


(217) 698-8500


1615 W. Washington St., Springfield, IL 62702

Office for Communications


October 13, 2016

For more information:
Scott Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
Cell: (217) 622-8988
Email: smulford@dio.org

Statement of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
Correcting a Recent Article in the State Journal-Register

SPRINGFIELD – In what is becoming a predictable routine, correspondent Steven Spearie writes an article for the State Journal-Register in which he misquotes and distorts my views, then I have to write a correction and clarification to set the record straight. So here I am again.        

Let’s start with the headline. The print edition of the State Journal-Register on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, said, “Paprocki to Catholics: May be best to not vote.” I never said that. The online edition says, “Bishop: Might be best for some Catholics to skip voting for president.” I never said that either, although it is a bit closer to what I actually did say.

In my column in the Oct. 2 edition of our diocesan newspaper, Catholic Times, what I actually said was, with reference to the upcoming presidential election, “Voters may also legitimately conclude in conscience that they cannot vote for either candidate of the two major political parties.” There is a big difference between saying that something is permissible and saying that it is the best thing to do. There is also a big difference between saying it is legitimate not to vote for either of the two main candidates and saying that one should not vote at all. In fact, I quoted the U.S. Bishops and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying that “participation in political life is a moral obligation” and “As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.”          

Mr. Spearie then asserts that I said “some Catholics may want to consider the ‘Benedict Option,’” which “allows them to ‘opt out of participation in political life.’” I never said that Catholics “may want to consider” this option and in fact I did not endorse it. I was simply describing what some people were saying and added that others “have suggested something more engaged with the world, such as a Dominican Option, a Franciscan Option or a Norbertine Option.” Mr. Spearie did not mention this nor did he give my conclusion, which was, “In the end, however, we really do not need to choose Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Norbert or any other saint after which to name a new option ... . The real figure to whom we should configure ourselves is Jesus Christ. Moreover, Jesus Christ is not an option in the sense of being optional. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Another usual tactic of Mr. Spearie is to seek out some experts to comment on things that I never said. In this regard, Mr. Spearie interviewed Gregory Foster, a writer and visiting assistant professor of faith and culture at Trinity International University. According to Spearie, “Foster said that voters should have more choices than simply ‘opting out,’ choices he doesn’t see Paprocki presenting.” Obviously Professor Foster did not read what I actually wrote and Mr. Spearie did not tell him that I wrote that “voters in most jurisdictions can write in the name of a candidate of their choosing. In all cases, voters can skip voting for a particular office, but still vote for other offices on the ballot.”

Mr. Spearie also wrote that I “declined to be interviewed” for his article. While we did not do a face-to-face interview, since I do not trust Mr. Spearie to represent my views fairly and accurately, I did provide written information through my spokesperson to his questions by e-mail. One would have thought that a journalist could get the story right based on the written text of what I actually wrote. Rather than rely on Mr. Spearie’s inaccurate representations of my views, I encourage readers to read the original text of my column in my own words in Catholic Times, available online at http://ct.dio.org/bishops-column/messages.html.