Monday, June 11, 2007

Archbishop Burke: Moral Duty To Deny Communion Or Excommunicate If Necessary

Archbishop Burke, Canon 915, February 5, 2004
As Bishop of the over 200,000 Catholics in the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin for the past nine years, Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D., a doctor of canon law, first conducted private communications to three 'Catholic' legislators, imploring them, "to make their consciences correct with Magisterial teachings."

After all three politicians refused to meet with him, saying they instead reject the Church's infallible teachings, Archbishop Burke, as 'Priest, Prophet and King,' then took the necessary steps to issue the four paragraph 'canonical notification' to address the scandal they were causing in his diocese by their conduct 'which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm' (EE n.37).

The notification declares: "...Catholic legislators who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such time as they publicly renounce their support of these most unjust practices" (canon 915).

Archbishop Burke exhorted, "No good bishops could stand by and let this happen. These public legislators are in grave sin."


Not too long ago I blogged on Archbishop Burke's resignation from a Catholic group hosting pro-abortion singer Sheryl Crow.

Think hard about that for a moment. If you read the story you know this was no small thing to do, especially considering the Medical Center Foundation from which he resigned. What a courageous and controversial statement for a Bishop to make. But Archbishop Burke takes Church teaching VERY seriously.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch at the time:
The archbishop explained that he had no choice but to resign from the foundation after its board refused his demands to drop musician Sheryl Crow from a hospital fund-raising event because of her support for embryonic stem cell research.


It was a public repudiation of a public figure, broadcast across a wide spectrum of media — from print and television to radio and Internet.

“It is not a matter of Miss Crow’s personal beliefs, but a matter of her public stance in favor of abortion rights and in favor of embryonic stem cell research,” Burke said into the cameras. “As archbishop of St. Louis, I have a very serious responsibility to avoid giving scandal.”


Yesterday, The Washington Times, in an article entitled "St. Louis Archbishop emphasizes orthodoxy," takes a look into the mind and history of Most Rev. Raymond Burke, Archbishop of the Diocese of St. Louis.
"The most pressing issue is the secularization in society," Archbishop Burke said. "The church finds herself more and more in a prophetic role of calling into question trends in society, for instance, practices like widespread procured abortion, and now, human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research."


"To me, it didn't seem like anything very radical to say that a Roman Catholic who persists in a public way in fostering legislation that permits procured abortion should be denied Communion," Archbishop Burke said.

"The church in her whole history has always understood this, that if you publicly persist in a gravely sinful act, that you should not present yourself for Holy Communion, and if you do, because of the public nature of it, you should be told not to."
Notice the Archbishop did not say he would "consider" withholding communion. Rather the person in question would be "told not to." Notice the Archbishop did not say he would warn politicians that they would "face consequences." He said very precisely that the party in question would be denied. When questioned on whether the Archbishop would offer communion to presidential candidate John Kerry, the Archbishop did not equivocate or refuse to answer directly. He stated clearly that he would not.
In 2005, the archbishop excommunicated the six-member board of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a traditionally Polish parish, after they refused to end an arrangement that dated back to the late 19th century giving them authority over parish finances.
He also excommunicated the Rev. Marek Bozek, who was brought in by the parish.

Father Bozek said the archbishop is a good man, but inflexible.
The Archbishop understands what's at stake in the Church. He doesn't threaten. He merely states Church teaching and when necessary exercises his duty and authority in order to defend or promote the faith.
"For a bishop or any pastor to exclude someone from Communion is always a source of great sorrow. The sorrow is caused by the care that a pastor naturally has for a soul who rejects the teaching of Christ and his church.

"What would be profoundly more sorrowful would be the failure of a bishop to call a soul to conversion, the failure to protect the flock from scandal and the failure to safeguard the worthy reception of Communion." [source]

If you really believe in Heaven and Hell.


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