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Illinois bishop bans lawmakers who backed 'extreme' pro-abortion bill from partaking in communion in Springfield diocese

Thomas Paprocki issued a decree last week that slammed those who promoted "the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion" and banned them from receiving communion.
UPDATED JUN 10, 2019

An Illinois bishop has issued a decree that bans lawmakers who supported what he called an "extreme" pro-abortion bill from receiving communion in the churches in his diocese.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki issued the decree on Thursday, June 6, that slammed those who promoted "the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion" and banned them from partaking in the sacrament of communion at Mass in the Springfield diocese.

Senate Bill 25, dubbed the 'Reproductive Health Act,' has already made its way through both legislative chambers. The House passed it in a 64-50 vote on May 28, with the Senate passing it in a 34-20 vote three days later. 

The bill is now at the desk of Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, who was expressed his intent to sign it into law.

The act removes restrictions on abortions in the state that were put into effect after the previous governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, had signed H.B. 40 into law on September 28, 2017.

While it did allow for state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions, it enforced waiting periods, spousal consent, and criminal penalties for doctors who performed abortions.

The state Catholic conference, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops, called the removal of those restrictions "an extreme measure" because it allows "for the abortion of unborn life at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. It also said lawmakers approving it was "a grave tragedy and a collective moral failing."

Paprocki, who is a canon lawyer, cited Canon 915 and 916 in his decree, the former stating that those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

He specifically named House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Catholics, for their "obstinate and persistent support of extreme abortion legislation" that is "inconsistent with being a good Catholic, a faithful Catholic."

Madigan said Paprocki had previously told him he would not be able to receive communion if he backed the bill, but said he did it anyway because it was a "recognition that women across Illinois deserve access to health care without intrusion from the government."

"To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil," Paprocki announced. "It's my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the church so they can receive Communion."

The move is not that all Catholics leaders are supportive of, with Fox News reporting that Father Michael Pfleger, a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago, suggesting that Paprocki was entering a "dangerous area" in deciding who should and should not take communion based on their political stances.