SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, has reiterated that U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin should not receive Holy Communion due to the Catholic lawmaker’s support for abortion, including a recent procedural vote against a bill that would bar abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy.
“Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life,” Bishop Paprocki said Thursday. “Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart.”
Bishop Paprocki’s statement cited U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities Chairman Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who said it was “appalling” that the Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act.
Durbin was one of the 14 self-identified Catholic senators who voted against cloture for the bill Jan. 29, which was needed to prevent a filibuster.
The Springfield bishop, in whose diocese Durbin resides, cited statements of previous priests and bishops of Springfield regarding the Democratic senator’s support for legal abortion. In April 2004, his pastor, Msgr. Kevin Vann, who is now bishop of Orange, California, said he would be reluctant to give Holy Communion to the senator because of his lack of unity with the Church’s teaching on life.
Then-Bishop of Springfield George Lucas, who now heads the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, said he would support that decision.
“I have continued that position,” Bishop Paprocki said.
The Springfield bishop cited Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which says those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
He also cited the U.S. bishops’ 2004 statement on “Catholics in Political Life,” which said failing to protect the lives of the innocent and defenseless 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,” the U.S. bishops’ statement said.
Backers of the bill which Durbin voted against said that fetal neural development means the unborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks into pregnancy. The bill included exceptions for an abortion in the case of rape or incest, as well as in circumstances in which the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. Twenty-one U.S. states have laws barring abortion after 20 weeks.
The federal bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in October 2017, is opposed by most Senate Democrats. To prevent a filibuster, Republicans needed Democratic support to reach 60 votes, in addition to the votes of the 51 Republican senators.
Democratic Sens. Bob Casey, Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly supported the motion. Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted against it.
In France, Italy and Germany, abortion is illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The United States, China, North Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore and Vietnam are the seven countries that permit elective abortions after 20 weeks.