Bishop Denies Communion To Senator For Abortion Stance

A Catholic bishop has reaffirmed a church ban on communion for Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, citing that the lawmaker had voted against a bill that would have limited abortion access.

On Feb. 13, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Roman Catholic diocese singled out Durbin in a condemnation of 14 Catholic senators who voted against legislation that the church favored, The State Journal-Register reports.

“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,” Paprocki said in a statement.

The announcement was in response to the inability of an abortion bill to pass in the U.S. Senate.

The legislation, titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would have posed criminal penalties on abortion providers who provided procedures to women who had been pregnant longer than 20 weeks.

Supporters of the bill asserted that fetuses were capable of feeling pain after 20 weeks of development, which has been disputed by the majority of scientists, The New York Times reports.

It remains unclear whether or not the bill would have been constitutional if signed into law. In the 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion procedures could not restricted until a fetus was viable outside of the mother’s womb.

In January 2017, a study by the Guttmacher Institute found that roughly one percent of abortions in the U.S. were performed after 20 weeks.

The bill also did not contain an exception for when the woman’s health was at risk in relation to the pregnancy.

On Jan. 29, the legislation failed to reach the required 60 votes to advance in the Senate, reaching only 51.

Paprocki’s statement upheld a communion ban against Durbin at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, where the senator had attended.

The church’s former pastor, Monsignor Kevin Vann, stated in April 2014 that he was conflicted over whether to allow Durbin communion.

“I’ve known [Sen. Durbin] for many years,” said at the time, according to Illinois Review “I know he works hard in many fields. But his pro-choice position puts him really outside of communion or unity with the church’s teaching on life. And that’s why I would be reticent to give him Holy Communion.”

Following those remarks, Paprocki swiftly announced that the parish could deny Durbin communion.

Durbin has not publicly commented on the matter. The lawmaker was anti-abortion when he joined Congress in the 1980s but later changed his position after consulting with women who were victims of rape or incest.

Durbin began attending the Springfield church less frequently over the years after the parish was scrutinized by anti-abortion protesters.

“I just made a decision that I didn’t need to bring that kind of uncomfortable situation on any church that I attended,” Durbin said.

Sources: Guttmacher Institute, Illinois ReviewThe New York Times, The State Journal-Register / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr