One Catholic bishop is standing up against his home state senator, who is Catholic and won’t ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after conception.

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, stated on the Diocese of Springfield website that he would deny communion to Illinois senator Dick Durbin. Paprocki wrote in reference to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have prohibited abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization. Paprocki noted that 14 Catholic senators voted against the legislation, and took aim at his home state senator. His statement read:

I agree completely with His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, who called the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act “appalling.”

Fourteen Catholic senators voted against the bill that would have prohibited abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization, including Sen. Richard Durbin, whose residence is in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. In April 2004, Sen. Durbin’s pastor, then Msgr. Kevin Vann (now Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, CA), said that he would be reticent to give Sen. Durbin Holy Communion because his pro-abortion position put him outside of communion or unity with the Church’s teachings on life. My predecessor, now Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, said that he would support that decision. I have continued that position.

Canon 915 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law states that those “who obstinately persist in mani­fest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” In our 2004 Statement on Catholics in Political Life, the USCCB said, “Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race 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.”

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. Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life.

As LifeNews points out, “A 2013 letter from Pope Francis says pro-abortion politicians should not be eligible for communion in the Catholic Church. In the letter, Pope Francis directed the Argentinean bishops to govern the Church there following the Aparecida Document. The text states, in part, ‘[people] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.’”