SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield on Thursday banned leaders of the Illinois General Assembly from receiving Holy Communion at local churches because of their involvement in abortion legislation approved last week.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki took the action against House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton in a decree based on Catholic canon stating that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Additionally, Paprocki barred other Catholic legislators who voted for statutory protection for abortion rights in Illinois. The measure was Democrats’ response to steep restrictions on abortion adopted in at least six Republican-controlled states in an effort to get the contentious issue, legalized by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, back before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish, has promised to sign the legislation.
“To support legislation that treats babies in the womb like property, allowing for their destruction for any reason at any time, is evil,” Paprocki said in a statement.
Madigan and Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, voted “yes” on the measure. In a statement, Madigan said Paprocki had informed him that supporting the so-called Reproductive Health Act would mean forfeiting Communion.
“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,” Madigan said.