Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, says that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is “cooperating in evil” and persisting in “manifest grave sin” because of his abortion advocacy and must therefore “not be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of his sin.”
The bishop’s statement followed on a recent procedural vote on a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy, a bill that Durbin supported.
The statement cited New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, who said it was “appalling” that the Senate had failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act in its Jan. 29 vote.
“The U.S. Senate’s failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling,” Dolan said in his communique. “Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother.”
Of the 24 U.S. senators who identify as Catholic, 14 voted against the bill, despite the fact that it directly contradicts Catholic teaching regarding the sacredness of innocent human life and the evil of abortion.
Five Catholic Senators broke ranks with their parties over the bill, with Democrats Bob Casey, Joe Manchin, and Joe Donnelly favoring the measure and Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voting against it.
“Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart,” Bishop Paprocki said.
“Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life,” he added.
In his explanation of his decision, Bishop Paprocki, who holds doctoral degrees in both civil and canon law, cited canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
Senator Durbin resides in the diocese of Springfield, which falls under the jurisdiction of Bishop Paprocki. Paprocki reportedly spoke with Durbin in 2014 and the senator told the bishop that he doesn’t go up to receive communion in Springfield because “he doesn’t want to make a scene.”
With this move, the bishop distanced himself from the position of his neighboring bishop, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who has said he has “no sympathy at all for the whole business of even talking about denying communion.” Cardinal Cupich apparently believes that a history of public support for abortion rights does not constitute “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin,” since Canon Law calls for withholding communion in such cases.
Senator Durbin has earned an impressive 100 percent rating from the abortion lobby group NARAL.
Durbin famously harassed 7th Circuit Court nominee Amy Barrett for her conservative Catholic faith during confirmation hearings last September, in what the LA Times described as a “cringeworthy interrogation.”
“I’m a product of 19 years of Catholic education and every once in a while holy mother the Church has not agreed with a vote of mine and has let me know,” Durbin said.
Taking issue with Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic” in a paper she coauthored 20 years ago, Durbin asked: “What’s an orthodox Catholic?”
“Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” he pressed.
The United States is currently one of only seven countries that allow abortions beyond 20 weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands.
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