The bishop of Springfield, IL, has forbidden Catholic legislators who voted for the Reproductive Health Act from receiving Holy Communion in his diocese, citing penalties in Church Law for those who “persist in manifest grave sin.”
In a statement released by the Springfield diocese Thursday, Bishop Thomas Paprocki declared that “Illinois Catholic lawmakers who promoted or voted for extreme abortion legislation are not to receive Communion.”
Bishop Paprocki calls out two Catholic legislators by name, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, but extends the ban to any Catholic who voted for the bills.
“Due to their leadership roles in promoting the evil of abortion by facilitating the passage of Senate Bill 25 this legislative session and House Bill 40 in 2017, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been barred from receiving Holy Communion,” the statement reads.
“In addition, Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for either of these abortion bills are not to present themselves to receive Holy Communion,” it says.
These legislative leaders “have shown obstinate and persistent support of extreme abortion legislation,” the statement declares. “House Bill 40 legalized taxpayer funding for abortion and Senate Bill 25 makes abortion a fundamental right, allows for the killing of innocent children up to the moment of birth, and requires private insurance to pay for abortion, among other anti-life changes.”
The statement was accompanied by a formal decree, which was mailed earlier this week to those Catholic lawmakers who voted for House Bill 40/Senate Bill 25.
“To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil,” the bishop said. “It’s my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the Church so they can receive Communion.”
Bishop Paprocki, who is a canon lawyer, said that if these legislators would like to return to communion with the Church, they must seek sacramental absolution and demonstrate a “public conversion of life.”
“In view of their gravely immoral action to deprive unborn children legal protection against abortion, it must be said that any Catholic legislator who sponsored, promoted, advocated, or voted for these pro-abortion bills has acted in a seriously sinful manner unfaithful to the 2,000-year-old Christian teaching against abortion and therefore, would place themselves outside of the full communion of the Catholic Church,” the bishop said. “Such persons are not to receive Holy Communion until they have celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation and displayed a public conversion of life.”
Along with citing Canon Law, Bishop Paprocki appealed to recent statements by Pope Francis in which he compared abortion to hiring a hit man to resolve problems in life.
“I want to thank lawmakers who stood up to these barbaric pieces of legislation and voted ‘no,’ and I applaud their courage to speak the truth that the most basic right we should all enjoy, is the right to life,” Paprocki said.