Bishop Raymond Burke wrote to two state legislators and a member of Congress earlier this year to take them to task for supporting legislation that he characterized as “anti-life.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel used the state’s open records law to obtain a copy of the letter he sent to Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point. Burke refused to say who the other recipients of his letters were.
…”You have failed to restrict the evil of abortion when the opportunity presented itself,” Burke wrote to Lassa. Fair enough. Bishops and other religious leaders are entitled to express their opinions.
But then in an interview, Burke said that if lawmakers continue to vote against the Roman Catholic Church’s position on life issues, “I would simply have to ask them not to present themselves to receive the sacraments because they would not be Catholics in good standing.”
This is not as formal a thing as excommunication, where the church says it will no longer give someone communion. But it is close. It is using a religious hammer to try to affect a lawmaker’s vote. That ought to be out of bounds in both religion and politics.
It ought to be out of bounds in religion because believers ultimately have to square their actions with the God in whom they believe, not with an individual religious leader. It ought to be out of bounds in politics because elected officials represent more than just the people who share their religious persuasion.
We are hearing more and more about the argument of pluralism. That pluralism justify the ends. I would like to know how you represent pluralism? You only have one vote at a time on a bill. You do not have a pluralistic vote where you cast many votes for and against a bill.
If a politician identifies themselves to belonging to some specific religious group then those who voted for them should not be surprised if their votes are consistent with the moral teachings of that group. Unfortunately we normally are now surprised when their votes are actually consistent with the faith they profess.
Excommunication and denial of access to Communion are not spiritual hammers used to bang someone into agreement, but are in fact an act of mercy. If someone holds something gravely contrary to the faith and then receives communion they are eating and drinking judgment onto themselves. To let a person know of this danger is a great act of mercy. To allow them to continue to receive Communion unworthily is unmerciful. In the history of the Church many who have been excommunicated or had other restrictions placed on them, repented of those acts. Love of neighbor requires us to rebuke them when the situation is appropriate. They is hardly anything more appropriate then rebuking those voting with the culture of death.
I say hats off to Bishop Raymond Burke and his efforts. He is one of the Bishops that is ensuring that at judgment he won’t have his hat size taken for the fitting of a mill stone.