(Photo: Reuters / Yuri Gripas)
The head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ili., has expressed his support for a priest who has refused to give Holy Communion to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ili.).
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki stated in an email written to a pro-life activist that he supported Monsignor Kevin Vann, pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church.
"Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law," wrote Paprocki.
"My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois."
While a member of the Roman Catholic Church, Durbin has a pro-choice legislative record that earned him a 100 percent rating from both the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Back in 2004, Monsignor Kevin Vann of Blessed Sacrament stated that he would refuse Durbin communion if he attempted to receive it at his church.
Vann's theological reasoning was found with Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that specified certain conditions for denying communion to an individual.
"Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion," reads Canon 915.
"I respect Senator Durbin," said Vann according to the State Journal-Register. "I've known him for many years. I know he works hard in many fields."
"But his pro-choice position puts him really outside of communion or unity with the church's teaching on life. And that's why I would be reticent to give him Holy Communion."
Durbin is not the only Catholic politician who has been denied communion by a priest due to his pro-choice political record.
In 2009, Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Mass. Senator Ted Kennedy, was denied Communion for his pro-choice record.
"He attacked the church, he attacked the position of the church on health care, on abortion, on funding," said Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin in a statement.
"And that required that I respond. I don't go out looking for these guys. I don't go out picking these fights."