Washington DC, Oct 8, 2007 / 09:41 am (CNA).- The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a national association of 600 priests and deacons, has issued a statement endorsing Archbishop Raymond Burke’s position that clergy must deny Holy Communion to public figures who openly support abortion or euthanasia.
Part of the statement reads: “Archbishop Burke equally addresses politicians on both sides of the aisle. Whether Democrat, Republican or independent; executive, legislative or judicial branches; all public officials who publicly support, promote or give assistance to others to commit evil are cooperators in that evil.”
Archbishop Burke, head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, recently published an essay in a prominent canon law journal reiterating the duties of Catholics in public office to receive Holy Communion worthily. His essay further emphasized the duties of ministers of Holy Communion to ensure the Sacrament’s worthy reception. He advised that clergy privately warn those potential communicants who are in manifest grave sin not to receive the Eucharist.
The confraternity’s statement quoted a 2004 letter to American bishops from Pope Benedict XVI(then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger): “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.” Therefore “”there may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about war and the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” His letter insisted that the minister of Holy Communion “must refuse to distribute it to a Catholic politician [who] consistently campaigns and votes for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws.”
The statement alluded to the parable in Matthew 22 where a man is physically removed from a wedding banquet for not wearing a wedding garment. It continued: “the man was ‘speechless’ and Catholic politicians have no excuse, either. If they openly support abortion and/or euthanasia, even if ‘personally opposed’, they are in fact publicly unworthy to receive Holy Communion due to their cooperation in evil. Greater scandal is given when bishops, priests, and deacons do not protect the sanctity and dignity of the Most Blessed Sacrament by allowing public persons notoriously known for their positions which directly violate the Divine and Moral Laws.”
The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy appealed to all bishops to support Archbishop Burke at the General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November.