CHICAGO (CBS) — Following their votes that expanded abortion rights in Illinois, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been barred from receiving Communion in Springfield.
That order, which also applies to other Catholic lawmakers who voted for the legislation, was issued by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. He cited canon law on the issue.
The Illinois State Legislature, at the end of its current session, passed a bill that made abortion a fundamental right. In 2017, lawmakers approved a law that expanded abortion access by allowing state insurance coverage for the procedure.
“The Eucharist is the most sacred aspect of our Catholic faith,” Bishop Paprocki said in a statement. “To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil. It’s my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the Church so they can receive Communion.”
Bishop Paprocki’s decree cites Canon 915 that states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” The decree also cites Canon 916 that states “a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible.”
A letter and the decree from Bishop Paprocki were mailed earlier this week to those Catholic lawmakers who voted for the legislation.
“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 said. “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.”
“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.”
In a statement, Madigan said he was aware that Bishop Paprocki would ban him from receiving Communion:
“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.”