Bishop Thomas Paprocki told The Pillar Tuesday that clarifying doctrinal errors proffered by senior Church leaders is a “necessary” responsibility for bishops, and that failing to address errors in Catholic teaching will see them compounded, not abated, in discussions about the Church’s pastoral and sacramental ministry.

The bishop talked with The Pillar Feb. 28, after he published an essay charging that recent statements from several members of the College of Cardinals are contrary to Catholic teaching, and amount to heresy.

“I thought I would explore some of the canonical implications if you have a situation of a cardinal who is holding to heretical views, or publicly proclaiming and teaching heretical views,” Paprocki said of “Imagining a Heretical Cardinal,” a February 28 essay published by First Things magazine.

“I have heard the word [heresy] used privately, and since it has been coming in private conversations, I thought that perhaps since it’s been coming up in private conversations, [then] perhaps it’s time for us to have some public conversation about that. … There are not just bishops, but theologians and other faithful Catholics raising the question of heresy,” Paprocki said.

“I think the reason I did this is because this debate has become so public at this point that it seems to have passed beyond the point of just some private conversations between bishops,” the bishop said.

Paprocki, the Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, is both a canon and civil lawyer. In November, the bishop was elected chairman of the U.S. bishops’ conference’s committee on canonical affairs and Church governance.

While Paprocki’s First Things essay did not name specific cardinals, it cited directly a Jan. 24 essay in America magazine from Cardinal Robert McElroy, which argued that the Church should “embrace a eucharistic theology that effectively invites all of the baptized to the table of the Lord.”

McElroy later clarified that his mention of “all the baptized” would pertain only to Catholics, and not other baptized Christians.

But the cardinal also said the Church should discard “a theology of eucharistic coherence that multiplies barriers to the grace and gift of the eucharist.”

“Unworthiness cannot be the prism of accompaniment for disciples of the God of grace and mercy,” McElroy wrote, in a text quoted by Paprocki.

Paprocki’s essay said that those statements are “contrary to a ‘truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith,’” and therefore constitute material heresy….

Full story in the Pillar.