Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, has a long history of promoting his right-wing views through the lens of the Church. So when same-sex couples in Illinois won the right to marry in 2013, Paprocki responded by conducting an exorcism. (What that accomplished is anyone’s guess.) In 2017, he also said gay couples who are Catholic didn’t deserve Holy Communion or funeral rites unless they showed “some signs of repentance.” (Even though they had nothing to repent for.)
His latest stunt is going after legislators who passed the state’s Reproductive Health Act, one of the strongest abortion rights bills in the country. Paprocki says the Catholic lawmakers who voted in favor of the legislation cannot receive communion in the Diocese of Springfield, either. Unless they are “reconciled to Christ and the Church.”
… the new decree singles out by name House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, stating that because of their important leadership roles in the passage of the pair of pro-abortion bills, they “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.”
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, he explained that Catholic politicians who put public policy needs above Church dogma — as they should — don’t deserve to be treated like other Catholics.
… so now we’ve got politicians, Catholic politicians who are saying that they think the Church is wrong. They think the Church is wrong about abortion and euthanasia and our teachings on marriage and family life. And I think that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. We have to be clear that you cannot be pro-abortion and be a Catholic in good standing. And that’s what this is really intended to do.
To be clear, some of those politicians may very well be “pro-life” personally, but they understand that their job is politician, not pastor. Their job is to promote good public policy, not push their religious views on the entire state.
Paprocki told one news outlet that he wasn’t doing that at all. Even though he totally was.
This is not a case of the church trying to tell government officials what to do. It’s not intended as a political statement, it is intended, in fact it’s being issued after the vote here because it’s a statement really talking about the integrity of what it means to be a Catholic.
It’s hypocritical of Paprocki to treat those legislators as un-Catholic heretics where there’s no way for him to enforce his own rules. How many members of the congregation are pro-choice, or use birth control, or support marriage equality? Are they also denied communion?
What would be more consistently “pro-life” is if the bishop denied communion to those who support refugee children being stolen from their parents and kept in cages, or who celebrate the death penalty, or any number of policies that lead to more suffering. But given the Catholic Church’s inconsistency when it comes to “defending life,” I am not surprised that this is the path Paprocki is choosing instead.