The Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, Thomas Paprocki, has issued a decree barring the leadership of the state legislator and Catholic lawmakers who voted for one of the most radically pro-abortion laws in the country from receiving Holy Communion.
He did so with some excellent language describing just how great a sin that abortion is.
From the Catholic News Agency (my bolds):
“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,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki wrote in a June 2 decree.
“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,” the bishop added. . . .
“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,” Paprocki wrote.
In a statement issued June 6, the bishop said that “in issuing this decree, I anticipate that some will point out the Church’s own failings with regard to the abuse of children.”
“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.
The sanction of being denied Holy Communion stops short of excommunication, which means being cast out of the church altogether. And in this case the sanction applies only to the Springfield diocese, which as the state capitol will affect state lawmakers, though they can always go to church elsewhere, though one would think that clergy in a Catholic system would respect the church discipline imposed by other bishops. Still, Bishop Paprocki has drawn a line in the sand.
Catholic politicians–who make a big deal of their Catholic identity when campaigning in Catholic neighborhoods–need to choose between their allegiance to party dogmas about abortion and their allegiance to their church. (This means you, Joe Biden.) You cannot be a Catholic when you defy Catholic teaching, just as you cannot be a Christian of any kind when you reject the teachings of Christianity.
I know that Catholic politicians have formulated a rationalization of “personally opposing” abortion, while voting for it as an option for those who do not share their faith. But besides this being a false distinction–how do you personally oppose it, while personally voting for it–it does not solve the moral problem. If you believe something is a sin, it is also “gravely immoral” to cause other people to sin. In fact, in some respects, it is worse, especially as understood by Catholic ethics.
So, Bishop Paprocki, good on you (as they say here in Australia)! This should be an example to Protestant pastors and congregations as well. If support of the “utterly evil act” of abortion is not a matter for church discipline, what is?
Illustration: The Office of the Keys by Lucas Cranach, Altarpiece, St. Mary’s Church, Wittenberg (detail) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons