Diocese of Springfield refuses communion to Madigan, Cullerton for backing 'evil' abortion bill
The Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield has banned the General Assembly's leaders from receiving Holy Communion at local churches because of their involvement in abortion legislation approved last week.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki issued a statement Thursday barring House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton from receiving the sacrament. He says any Catholic lawmaker who voted for statutory protection for abortion rights in Illinois is prohibited.
Madigan and Cullerton are both Chicago Democrats. Madigan issued a statement saying Paprocki informed him before action on the Reproductive Health Act that he would be denied Communion. Madigan says "it is more important to protect a woman's right to make her own health care decisions."
A Cullerton spokesman says he's unaware of Cullerton's ever attending Mass in Springfield.
Archdiocese of Chicago officials issued a statement on Cardinal Blase Cupich's position on Communion after Paprocki made his stance public on Thursday. Cupich last week decried the abortion bill as a "sad moment in our history as a state," but he did not follow Paprocki's lead.
"Cardinal Cupich has had a longstanding position over his 20-plus years as bishop that it is important to place the emphasis on teaching what the Church believes about important issues of the day, all the while maintaining that the Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion to bring people to the truth," the archdiocese said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has pledged to sign the bill that would rescind prohibitions on some late-term abortions and 45-year-old criminal penalties for performing the procedure. It would create access to contraception, pregnancy benefits, abortion procedures, diagnostic testing and other related health care as a fundamental right.
"As states across the country pass dangerous laws restricting access to abortion, we in Illinois are standing with women and guaranteeing access to reproductive health care," Senate sponsor Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, said upon passage of the bill last week.
Former Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Ryg of Vernon Hills, in a letter last week to the Daily Herald, said she's able to support the law as a Catholic because it protects a private choice.
"As a former legislator, I have stood as an elected representative who happens to be Catholic, to fully value the separation of church and state," Ryg said. "I cherish our national belief in religious pluralism. Abortion bans and restrictions are punitive and deny women their rights to make conscience-based decisions. Government has no right to restrict access to reproductive health care to any woman, including those with less ability to pay."
The Springfield archdiocese for years has barred U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin from receiving Communion because of his votes on abortion.
• Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.