Rome, Aug 19, 2008 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Apostolic Signature, Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians who publically defend abortion, should
not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly
charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed
In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke
pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving
Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,”
he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”
To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge
and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law.
For example, if they support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and
defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be
publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she
has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.
“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and
attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation
to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing
him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.
“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of
mortal sin and receive the Eucharist,” the archbishop continued. “Secondly,
there could be another form of scandal, consisting of leading people to think
that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed
was a serious sin, is really not that serious – if the Church allows him or her
to receive Communion.”
“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion
rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or
she could come to believe that it up to a certain point it is okay to do away
with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.
Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an
abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of
interfering in public life but rather in the spiritual state of the politician
or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public
sphere as well.”
“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor,
accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of
a member of his flock,” he stated.
It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private
sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging
Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but
also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to
"Above all, for the salvation of that person …" Comments like this make me really miss having Archbishop Burke around in the United States. If only many more would imitate his behavior in this regard for the salvation of souls and clarity on this subject. The Pope though was obviously quite aware of his stance on this and the scholarship of his article he wrote on Canon 915 when he tapped him as head of the Apostolic Signature. And while the Pope certainly does not make appointments specifically to send signals it certainly does show his supreme confidence in the Bishop as a Canon Lawyer.
A Jester Hat tip to another hat wearer The Black Biretta.