Durbin Spins Communion Denial Decision – OpEd


Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who identifies as a Catholic, has yet to find an abortion he couldn’t justify. That is why his bishop, Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, recently said he will be denied Holy Communion in his diocese.

This is nothing new. In 2018, Bishop Paprocki issued an order that barred Durbin from receiving Communion following the senator’s vote against the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

So why is Durbin now whining again? Worse, he is misstating Church teachings on this subject, even to the point of claiming victim status.

Durbin complained that “Other Catholics may share my point of view [on abortion]—statistics suggest they probably do—but they show up to Communion every week without any questions asked.” He added that “with very few exceptions, Communion is offered to anybody if the person believes that they [sic] are worthy of it.”

Durbin is right about the latter comment. Very few Catholics are denied Communion, but what he failed to say is that he is one of them. He has not only been told not to go to Communion by his bishop, in 2004 he was denied Communion by Monsignor (now a bishop) Kevin Vann of Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield.

So yes, Durbin is unique. Where he is wrong is in his assertion that he is just like those Catholics who voted for him and go to Communion without this being an issue.

Here is what the U.S. bishops have said about this matter. “A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion…if the voter’s intent is to support that position.”

In other words, Catholics who vote for a pro-abortion politician because they like his pro-union record, or his position on other issues, are not “guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil.”

Durbin is wrong to conflate his status as a senator—someone who votes on pro-abortion bills—with those Catholics who vote for him for reasons other than his support for abortion rights. In fact, the Catholic Church is very specific about the difference.

On November 24, 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.” Part II, Sec. 4, reads, “John Paul II…has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life (italics in the original).”

Congress is a lawmaking body and Durbin is a member of it. He is not analogous to a blue-collar guy who votes for him despite his lust for abortion. Therefore, he merits disparate treatment.

Contact Jasmine Hunt, Legislative Director to Sen. Durbin:[email protected]

William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

2 thoughts on “Durbin Spins Communion Denial Decision – OpEd

  • November 12, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you!! I am saddened that Sen Durbin continues to violate clear Church teaching on this subject, and I applaud Bishop Paprocki for being willing to enforce the discipline regarding the denial of Communion to lawmakers who publicly support abortion. It’s unfortunate the Senator fails to see the distinction between public officials like himself and rank-and-file Catholics. And his suggestion that people who present themselves for Holy Communion should receive the same solely based on their belief that they deserve it is completely bizarre. I pray for his conversion and his understanding on what the Church teaches on this subject.

  • November 23, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    Where is all the uproar that should be following the actions of Catholic legislators who vote in favor of death penalty legislation? Or against programs to aid the poor? The life issue is about more than abortion prevention, and there are other ways to prevent abortion than passing laws some will be able to evade.

    Is the bishop being consistent? It appears not.


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