Bishop refuses communion for General Assembly leaders

Illinois Capitol News
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Update: 3:50 pm, 6/6/19, Thursday 

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — State lawmakers continue facing backlash after an abortion protection measure called the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) passed both chambers.

This time, it’s fallout from the Catholic Church which has been opposed to the measure since it was created.

One bishop is banning leaders of the General Assembly from receiving communion in the Springfield Diocese. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki says lawmakers who voted for RHA should not take communion because, by voting for it, they acted in a sinful manner.

Paprocki is calling on Representatives and Senators, who voted for the measure to make an abortion a fundamental right, to abstain from receiving communion.

“To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction at any time, is evil. It is my hope and prayer these lawmakers reconcile themselves to the church so they can receive communion.”

Paprocki banned House Speaker Michael Magian and Senate President John Cullerton specifically from receiving communion in his diocese. Madigan says he was notified by the bishop he would not be allowed to take communion if he allowed the vote in the House.

“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 healthcare decisions.”

Madigan and Cullerton are both from Chicago. The archdiocese there has not made an official statement barring members from receiving communion, but Cardinal Culpich did denounce the bill in a statement: “The passage of Senate Bill 25, eliminating even the minimal limitations on abortions under previous law marks a sad moment in our history as a state.”

Though Paprocki is banning the leaders from participating at this diocese, a spokesperson for Senator Cullerton says he never attended any services here. 

Original: 11:00 am, 6/6/19, Thursday

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — While the Constitution doesn’t specifically mention a “separation of church and state,” the First Amendment has typically been understood by this paraphrase.

Despite that, an area religious leader has decided to impose punishments on political leaders.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki decreed Catholic lawmakers who promote or vote in favor of abortion legislation will no longer be allowed to receive Communion; Catholicism’s “most scared aspect” according to the bishop.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been barred from receiving the sacrament in the Diocese of Springfield under Paprocki’s decree.

The ACLU issued a statement regarding the move:

It is sad to read the report of the legislative leaders targeted because each took their oath to our state constitution seriously and respected the religious liberty of all Illinois residents. We know the passage of the Reproductive Health Act — at a time when other states are criminalizing reproductive health care – was possible because of the leadership and vision of Speaker Madigan, in particular, to move this legislation forward in the House. The Speaker and Senator Cullerton deserve deep appreciation for advocating for the fundamental rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions.

Speaker Madigan also released a statement explaining his decision to move forward with discussion and voting on the issue:

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.

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.

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