The Catholic Church has been in the news lately, for things it does not want to be in the news for. But recent actions were taken by Bishop Thomas Paprocki that showed the Catholic laity and the entire world one of the great tenets of the Catholic faith; the advocacy on behalf of innocent human life that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and word of God. In a time when it is not popular to unequivocally stand for life according to the religious and political left Bishop Paprocki’s actions are refreshing and much needed.
Bishop Paprocki specifically banned Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. Paprocki’s ban, announced Thursday morning, orders all priests within his diocese to not present the Eucharist to the specific lawmakers.
Paprocki disapproved two pieces of legislation: the Act Concerning Abortion (passed in 2017) and the Reproductive Health Act of 2019. The Act Concerning Abortion expanded state health insurance and Medicaid to cover abortions. The Reproductive Health Act of 2019 recently passed by the Illinois House and Senate is expected to be signed by Governor Pritzker in the coming days. The bill lifts the ban on partial birth abortions and criminal penalties for performing abortions, and would prevent any further state regulation of abortion procedures. The bill also connotes abortion as a fundamental right in the state of Illinois and requires all private health insurance companies to cover elective abortions.
Paprocki referenced Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law as his justification for issuing the decree. Canon 915 forbids the administration of Holy Communion, a sacred part of mass as well as a sacrament, to those who have been excommunicated, interdicted, or anyone who “obstinately persists in manifest grave sin.”
In order for anyone to be denied communion, the sin must contain four elements simultaneously. These four elements include sin, which is grave, which is manifest, and which is obstinately persevered in. The action also must be a sin in the eyes of the church. Instead of being genuinely remorseful and repenting by making “suitable reparation for damages and scandal,” a way in which people denied communion under Canon 915 can get back in the good graces of the diocese and Jesus Christ, Madigan replied in reaction to Paprocki’s decree “It is more important to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.” A committed Catholic, we have not.
One with basic knowledge of Catholic doctrinal teaching and the scriptures knows that abortion is a grave sin. For instance, within the book of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a book summing up the beliefs of the Catholic church written by Pope John Paul II in part three, section two, chapter two, article five the Catholic position pontificates on the fifth commandment in scripture “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). The Catholic Church’s position as noted in line 2258 of the book of Catechism of the Catholic Church is:
“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”
Furthermore, in that same book in lines 2270-2275, particularly line 2272, the Catholic Church considers the formal cooperation in abortion as constituting a grave offense. In other doctrinal teachings considered binding by the Catholic Church such as Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI, abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely forbidden. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI categorized abortion as “tragic” and a “widespread scrouge.” The official website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that “every life is sacred from conception to natural death.” Even the current Pope, who has been more outspoken on politically liberal social justice causes, acknowledged that “abortion is never acceptable.”
Cullerton and Madigan are not operating consistent with the sanctity of life principles modeled in scripture or the church’s teachings. They use it as a tool to garner votes come election time. To devout Catholics — those Catholics who live out their faith every day — no number of votes, power, or virtue signaling is worth enacting legislation that does not take into account the innocent. Christian leaders, no matter their domination, should follow Paprocki’s example and act to advance pro-life policies. Roman Catholic officials, especially, need to be mindful of official church teaching and scripture, as Paprocki has demonstrated. This is a good step towards the Roman Catholic Church operating in line with basic doctrinal teachings as well as following the scriptures. If more and more church leaders follow Paprocki’s lead, maybe Catholic members of the Democratic party will reverse their trend of becoming more and moral radically leftist and “pro-choice” on a matter that the church regards as clearly defined.