Illinois Catholic Lawmakers Who Support Extreme Abortion Legislation Are Not to Receive Communion

by Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

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Bishop Paprocki Decree Forbidding Communion to Legislative Leaders Who Support Abortion

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Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, has decreed that state legislative leaders may not be admitted to Holy Communion within his diocese, because of their work to pass the state Reproductive Health Act. The bishop also directed the Catholic legislators who have voted for legislation promoting abortion should not present themselves to recieve Holy Communiion until they have first gone to confession.

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Diocese of Springfield, June 6, 2019

Springfield, IL – Due to their leadership roles in promoting the evil of abortion by facilitating the passage of Senate Bill 25 this legislative session and House Bill 40 in 2017, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been barred from receiving Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois under a decree from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. In addition, Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for either of these abortion bills are not to present themselves to receive Holy Communion.

The decree comes as these legislative leaders have shown obstinate and persistent support of extreme abortion legislation. House Bill 40 legalized taxpayer funding for abortion and Senate Bill 25 makes abortion a fundamental right, allows for the killing of innocent children up to the moment of birth, and requires private insurance to pay for abortion, among other anti-life changes.

“The Eucharist is the most sacred aspect of our Catholic faith,” Bishop Paprocki said. “As sacred Scripture warns, ‘Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord’s cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord.’ 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.”

Bishop Paprocki, who is a canon lawyer, consulted with other canon lawyers throughout North America before issuing this decree.

“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,” Bishop 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.”

In accord with Canon 915, Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton are barred from receiving Holy Communion within the Diocese of Springfield of Illinois. By virtue of Canon 916, Catholic lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly who voted for either or both of these bills are not to present themselves for Holy Communion.

Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion at his General Audience on Oct. 10, 2018 when he said, “A contradictory approach even permits the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights. But how can an action that ends an innocent and defenseless life in its blossoming stage be therapeutic, civilized, or simply human? I ask you: Is it right to ‘do away with’ a human life in order to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hit man in order to solve a problem? One cannot. It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem.”

In a 2004 Statement on Catholics in Political Life, the Bishops of the United States said, “Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”

“In issuing this decree, I anticipate that some will point out the Church’s own failings with regard to the abuse of children,” Bishop Paprocki said. “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.

“We also understand many unplanned pregnancies come with fear and difficulty,” Bishop Paprocki said. “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. 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,” Bishop Paprocki said.

A letter and the decree from Bishop Paprocki were mailed earlier this week to those Catholic lawmakers who voted for House Bill 40/Senate Bill 25.

Click here to download the decree (pdf) See the text of the decree below:

DECREE DECLARING THAT ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE LEADERS WHO PROMOTED AND VOTED FOR THE ACT CONCERNING ABORTION OF 2017 (HOUSE BILL 40) AND THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT OF 2019 (SENATE BILL 25) ARE NOT TO BE ADMITTED TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION, AND CATHOLIC LEGISLATORS WHO VOTED FOR PRO-ABORTION LEGISLATION ARE NOT TO PRESENT THEMSELVES FOR HOLY COMMUNION PER CANONS 915 AND 916 OF THE CODE OF CANON LAW

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.

Whereas, the Church since the first century has affirmed the moral evil of abortion, which teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable, declaring, "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish" (Didache, 2:2).

Whereas, the college of bishops together with the Roman Pontiff at the Second Vatican Council affirmed that direct abortion, willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law, saying, "Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes" (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 51);

Whereas, Pope Francis has called abortion a "very grave sin" and a "horrendous crime" (interview with Italian media outlets TV2000 and Blu Radio, November 20, 2016);

Whereas, canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law requires that those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion";

Whereas, canon 916 of the Code of Canon Law 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";

Whereas, Sacred Scripture warns, "Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord's cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27);

Whereas, the Statement on Catholics in Political Life issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004 said, "Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good";

Whereas, several Catholic legislators in the Illinois General Assembly have obstinately persisted in promoting the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion by facilitating the passage of and/or voting for the Act Concerning Abortion of 2017 (House Bill 40), which among other things, provides for taxpayer funding of abortion, as well as for the Reproductive Health Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 25), which, among other things, purports to declare abortion to be a fundamental right, while also declaring that an unborn baby does not have independent rights under the laws of this state;

Whereas, "the bishop is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws" (Code of Canon Law, canon 386, §2); and

Whereas, decisions about "whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand . . . rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles" (Statement on Catholics in Political Lift USCCB, 2004);

Now therefore, I, the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, do hereby issue this decree declaring in accord with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law that 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.

Moreover, 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.

Given at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois, on this 2nd day of the month of June, in the Year of Our Lord 2019.

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

Very Reverend Christopher A. House, V.J.
Chancellor

© © 1997-2019 Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

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