Springfield bishop bans Michael Madigan, John Cullerton from Springfield-area communions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- According to a statement from the Diocese of Springfield, the Bishop of Springfield has banned Illinois lawmakers who supported a controversial abortion bill from all Springfield-area communions.

House Bill 40, otherwise known as the Illinois Reproductive Act, expanded women's access to abortion and if signed by governor JB Pritzker would legalize late term abortions in the state and protect the doctors who perform them.

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Illinois lawmakers have wrapped up their spring session after a whirlwind week that produced a budget, protections for abortion and legalized marijuana use, among other things.



Partaking in Holy Communion is a very sacred thing in the Catholic Church and with the church opposing abortion, the Springfield Bishop is directly calling out House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Catholics, for their leadership in passing the bill.

"And so the church teaching is that those who are in the state of serious sin should not approach holy communion because that in fact compounds their sin then," said Bishop Thomas Paprocki.

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Paprocki is also barring other Catholic lawmakers from taking communion if they voted for the bill. The ban only applies in his diocese.

"I'm not interested in punishing people I'm interested in their change of heart," Bishop Paprocki said.

State Representative Robert Martwick called Paprocki's communion ban disappointing, saying he believes in the separation of church and state.

"Not only should our government not make laws regarding religion, we shouldn't make laws that adopt the tenants of one faith over others so I just believe that we should make secular laws and not ones based in religion," Martwick said.

The Chicago Archdiocese issued a statement saying the Cardinal Blase Cupichi sees the Eucharist as an opportunity of grace and conversion to bring people to the truth.

"Well you know that's an important issue, that's why I issued a decree, or issued a statement," Cardinal Cupich said.

He declined to address Paprocki's decree further.

Father Michael Pfleger, with St. Sabina Church, said all are welcome at his table and he will address the issue during this Sunday's service.

"It's sad and it's unfortunate and I think it hurts the church more than helps it," Father Pfleger said.

Bishop Paprocki has been controversial in the past, in 2013 he performed an exorcism against same sex marriage after the Marriage Equality law passed.

Paprocki also upheld a decree issued by his predecessor that banned Senator Dick Durbin from taking communion because of his support for abortion.

Madigan released a statement in response to the ban. Read the full statement below.

"The Reproductive Health Act is a recognition that women across Illinois deserve access to health care without intrusion from government. I was notified by Bishop Paprocki that if I permitted the House of Representatives to debate and pass the Reproductive Health Act, I would no longer be allowed to accept the sacrament of communion. After much deliberation and reflection, I made the decision to allow debate and a vote on the legislation. I believe it is more important to protect a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, including women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. With women's rights under attack in an increasing number of states across the country, Illinois is now a leader in making sure women are protected and their rights are upheld."

A letter and the decree from Bishop Paprocki were mailed earlier this week to those Catholic lawmakers who voted for House Bill 40/Senate Bill 25.
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