The Democrat-dominated state legislature in Illinois just passed an extreme pro-abortion measure that the governor is expected to sign into law, but one Catholic bishop is pushing back against some legislators.
The Catholic News Agency reported that Thomas Paprocki, the Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, recently issued a decree that barred Catholic legislators who advocate on behalf of abortion rights from seeking or receiving communion, unless those legislators confess and repent beforehand.
The bishop took aim at the state’s Senate president and speaker of the House — both openly proclaimed Catholics — for their roles in shepherding through the legislature a bill known as the Reproductive Health Act of 2019. It declared abortion to be a “fundamental right” and removed virtually all regulations against the procedure while mandating that private health insurance plans in the state provide full coverage for it.
In his decree issued on June 2, Bishop Paprocki wrote, “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.”
“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,” Paprocki wrote.
While much of the attention garnered by the bishop’s decree was focused on the two legislative leaders he called out by name, lesser well-known rank-and-file legislators that proclaim themselves to be Catholic, yet support expanding and protecting abortion rights, were not let off the hook without notice.
Paprocki wrote, “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.”
No doubt in anticipation of the criticism his decree would and did receive, the bishop released a second decree on June 6 that addressed common complaints against his declaration and attempted to explain why it was important.
In response to the what-aboutism that dismissed Paprocki’s stance against abortion in light of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of minors scandal, the bishop wrote, “The same justifiable anger we feel toward the abuse of innocent children, however, should prompt an outcry of resistance against legalizing the murder of innocent children.”
“The failings of the Church do not change the objective reality that the murder of a defenseless baby is an utterly evil act,” he added.
As to the common refrain from the left that pro-life advocates don’t care about the concerns and consequences of unplanned pregnancies or the babies once they’ve been born, Paprocki urged everyone to do more in support of young expectant mothers to push back against those particular narratives.
“It is our obligation, as a society, to be there for these pregnant mothers, help them in any way possible, and empower them to make life-affirming decisions,” Paprocki wrote. “This also includes continued support for the mother and her child after birth. We must acknowledge a child in the womb is not a problem. He or she is a gift from God.”
The bishop further explained that the goal of his decree was not to spark controversy, but rather to encourage confession, repentance and ultimately conversion from pro-abortion to pro-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,” Paprocki said.
“Such persons are not to receive Holy Communion until they have celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation and displayed a public conversion of life.
“To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil,” Paprocki said. “It’s my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the Church so they can receive Communion.”
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