"Bible and Lord's Cup and Bread" by John Snyder / CC BY-SA 3.0

These lawmakers supported abortion rights. A bishop barred them from Communion.

Jun 13, 2019

By Reis Thebault

John Cullerton grew up in the church.

Long before the Illinois Democrat became one of the most powerful politicians in the state, before his party picked him to be president of the Senate, he attended Catholic school. A lot of it. Grammar school, high school, college, law school. Then he sent his children to Catholic school, all five of them. He’s from a devoted family and raised his own to be the same, he said.

But if he were to attend Mass — which he does every week — in the Illinois capital, maybe before a Senate session one morning, he would be left out of the most important part of the service: Holy Communion.

Last week, an Illinois bishop issued a decree directed at Cullerton, his counterpart in the House and a host of other Catholic lawmakers, ordering them not to receive the sacred sacrament after supporting abortion rights legislation that the governor signed into law on Wednesday. The bishop’s strongly worded statement challenged the politicians to square their public policy positions with their professed faith, an issue that has proved particularly thorny for Catholic Democrats, whether they’re running for city council or president of the United States.

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