A priest has urged bishops to excommunicate the 14 Catholic senators who had voted against the ban on late-term abortion.
In a recent blog post, Fr. Dwight Longenecker argued that the 14 senators had ensured that the "barbaric practice" of late-term abortion remained legal, when they could have guaranteed the passage of the bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
"I'm absolutely shocked this morning to learn that the bill to outlaw abortions past twenty weeks has been defeated in the US Senate," the priest said, as reported by CNS News.
"Even more shocking is the fact that fourteen senators who identify as Catholics voted against the bill–in effect giving the nod to late term abortions. Even worse is the realization that if these men and women had voted for the bill it would have passed. Therefore, these fourteen have ensured that this barbaric procedure is still legal in America," he continued.
Longenecker, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina, called on the bishops of the 14 senators to issue a formal statement acknowledging that the lawmakers have "publicly denied their Catholic faith, and if not formally, then have informally excommunicated themselves."
The priest further stated that the pastors of the lawmakers should publicly castigate them for their actions and deny them access to the sacraments.
He encouraged faithful Catholics who belong to the same parishes and dioceses as the 14 senators to send their bishops letters and emails, and withhold contributions if they refuse to rebuke the lawmakers.
The 20-week abortion ban was one of two bills that were considered for a possible vote to coincide with the annual March for Life. The measure, also known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was based upon the assertion that unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks. Last week, 46 of 97 members of the U.S. Senate voted against further debate on the bill, effectively defeating the measure.
Longenecker has called on Catholic colleges, universities and media outlets to publish the names of the 14 Catholic senators who voted against the ban and "circulate their names as widely as possible." The priest had included links to the official vote roll call and public records of senators who profess to be Catholics and he also provided a chart indicating their district, diocese and bishop.
Democrat Senator Tim Kaine, who was one of the 14 lawmakers, had been criticized by Providence, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin, who is listed as the senator's bishop, during the 2016 election for his support for abortion, gay marriage, same-sex adoption and women's ordination.
Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, had previously supported the decision of one of his priests to deny Communion to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who is also one of the 14 lawmakers.