[Springfield] Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has ruled that state legislators who are working to pass Illinois’s new abortion bill may not present themselves for communion in his diocese and that priests are expressly forbidden from giving the Eucharist to both the Senate president and the speaker of the House.
“In accord with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law … Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, who facilitated the passage of the Act Concerning Abortion of 2017 (House Bill 40) as well as the Reproductive Health Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 25), are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois because they have obstinately persisted in promoting the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion as evidenced by the influence they exerted in their leadership roles and their repeated votes and obdurate public support for abortion rights over an extended period of time,” Paprocki wrote in a statement dated June 2, 2019.
“These persons may be readmitted to Holy Communion only after they have truly repented these grave sins and furthermore have made suitable reparation for damages and scandal, or at least have seriously promised to do so, as determined in my judgment or in the judgment of their diocesan bishop in consultation with me or my successor,” he continued.
Although they are not named, Paprocki included other pro-abortion state politicians in his interdict, saying, “I declare that Catholic legislators of the Illinois General Assembly who have cooperated in evil and committed grave sin by voting for any legislation that promotes abortion are not to present themselves to receive Holy Communion without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church in accord with canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law.”
The full decree is here.
* Paprocki was interviewed by the National Catholic Register…
I think they should see this as a clear affirmation of Church teaching about the respect for human life from conception to natural death. It should be also an affirmation of the clear teaching that abortion is wrong. It should also be seen as a clear effort to uphold the integrity of the sacraments and to maintain the consistency between all of those.
It is scandalous, I think, to people — that’s another issue here — it is truly scandalous to people when they see Catholic politicians saying, “I’m a Catholic but I am going to vote for this abortion legislation.” And then they do vote for it, and they vote for this extreme legislation that is promoting abortion, and other faithful Catholics wonder how can they do that? How can they do that and get away with it?
This document is not intended as a political document. The legislation has already passed. What this document is saying is that the people who have done this have done something that is simply not acceptable to the Catholic Church.
So the approach I’m taking here is, there’s two canons in the Code of Canon law, Canon 915 and Canon 916 that are applicable. Canon 915 is the one that has received a lot more media attention, and that is the one that basically says that those who have obstinately persisted in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. So obstinate persistence requires more than one act. And that’s why my decree really just singles out the Speaker of the House here in Illinois, Michael Madigan, as well as the president of the State Senate, John Cullerton, because they have a persistently over a number of years now, pushed this pro-abortion legislation.
“To the best of my knowledge the Senate President hasn’t ever attended services there,” a Cullerton spokesman said Wednesday.
Madigan issued a statement saying Paprocki had notified him earlier that if he permitted the House to debate and vote on the Reproductive Health Act, he would no longer be able to take communion.
“After much deliberation and reflection, I made the decision to allow debate and a vote on the legislation,” the Madigan statement said. “I believe it is more important to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, including women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. With women’s rights under attack in an increasing number of states across the country, Illinois is now a leader in making sure women are protected and their rights are upheld.”
When asked if Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has ever imposed similar sanctions on lawmakers who supported abortion-rights legislation, the Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement: “Cardinal Cupich has had a longstanding position over his 20-plus years as a bishop that it is important to place the emphasis on teaching what the Church believes about important issues of the day, all the while maintaining an unshakable confidence that the Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion to bring people to the truth.”
…Adding… Full Madigan statement…
The Reproductive Health Act is a recognition that women across Illinois deserve access to health care without intrusion from government. I was notified by Bishop Paprocki that if I permitted the House of Representatives to debate and pass the Reproductive Health Act, I would no longer be allowed to accept the sacrament of communion. After much deliberation and reflection, I made the decision to allow debate and a vote on the legislation. I believe it is more important to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, including women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. With women’s rights under attack in an increasing number of states across the country, Illinois is now a leader in making sure women are protected and their rights are upheld.
I don’t think it’s totally legal to offer an inducement to legislators or threaten a specific punishment of them in advance of a vote on legislation.
* ACLU IL statement…
It is sad to read the report of the legislative leaders targeted because each took their oath to our state constitution seriously and respected the religious liberty of all Illinois residents.
We know the passage of the Reproductive Health Act — at a time when other states are criminalizing reproductive health care - was possible because of the leadership and vision of Speaker Madigan, in particular, to move this legislation forward in the House.
The Speaker and Senator Cullerton deserve deep appreciation for advocating for the fundamental rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions.
…Adding… With a hat tip to Hannah Meisel, Madigan doesn’t even attend church any longer. From February..
While he’s known as a classic Chicago South Side Irish politician and went to Catholic school (he graduated from St. Adrian elementary school, St. Ignatius College Prep in 1960, Notre Dame in June ‘64 and Loyola Law School in June ’67), Madigan does not go to church. Madigan said “once upon a time” he regularly attended services as St. Adrian and that “for a time” he “would be a regular attendee at St. Nicholas of Tolentine” but he does belong to a church or parish.
…Adding… One more reference…
Madigan also said he was not a member of any church or parish, including St. Mary Star of the Sea, the neighborhood Catholic church less than half a mile from his West Lawn home of the last 42 years.
Asked if he ever regularly attended church, Madigan said, “Once upon a time St. Adrian. And let me amend that, for a time I would be a regular attendee at St. Nicholas of Tolentine.”