Bishops have a 'duty' to deny pro-abortion politicians Communion, American Cardinal says
2/8/2013 8:31:00 PM
By Hilary White
The belief by many Catholics in politics, supported by many in the Catholic hierarchy and clergy, that it is possible to be in active support of legalised abortion and remain in good standing with the Church, has become a notorious source of scandal in the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Europe. One of the world's most resolute defenders of the Church's teaching is Raymond Leo Burke, the Cardinal Prefect of the Vatican's highest court. The American Cardinal told an Irish newspaper last week, again, that a person who persists in the "grave sin" of supporting abortion in law must both refrain from presenting himself for reception of Communion, but must be refused when he does so.
In a lengthy interview with the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice, the Cardinal Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court, said again that it is not possible to remain in good standing as a Catholic and support the killing of children in the womb as a politician.
"There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins and therefore once a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion," he said.
Not only should he not come forward himself, "as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion," the cardinal added.
Burke made it clear that the duty lies ultimately with the bishop to both instruct and, when there is no change in behaviour, to withhold Communion.
"The local Bishop should teach clearly in the matter and also encourage his priests to make sure that the Church's discipline is observed, in order to avoid the grave sin of sacrilege on the part of the Catholic politician who approaches to receive Holy Communion when he is persisting obstinately in grave moral evil, and to prevent the scandal which is caused when such individuals receive Holy Communion, because their reception of Holy Communion gives the impression that the Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm," he stated.
"At a much deeper level of faith and of personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ," he said, a person's love of Christ ought to be enough to compel him to refrain from reception of Communion, that the Church teaches is literally the body and blood of Jesus, if he cannot give up his sins," he added. "A person obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin will refrain from approaching to receive Holy Communion because of his love of our Lord and his sorrow for the grave sin which he is committing against our Lord and His Holy Church."
The controversy continues unabated in the Church as long as many other bishops, including the current and previous archbishops of Washington, D.C., continue to refuse to countenance the idea of refusing Communion to the Catholic political supporters of legalised abortion like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cardinal Donald Wuerl has frequently said that he will not use the reception of Communion as a "political weapon."
But Burke said that in his own experience as a bishop, telling politicians not to approach has been sufficient. "They have understood and have followed the discipline of the Church as it is set forth in Canon 915," he said.
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