Cardinal Raymond Burke
ROME, November 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On the eve his elevation to the Cardinalate on November 20, Archbishop Raymond (now Cardinal) Burke told a Vatican Radio interviewer that his stand on refusal of Communion to pro-abort politicians or public figures is based on “the God-centered thinking which has marked the discipline of the church” – namely, that a person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion.
Cardinal Burke spoke to Tracey McClure on November 19 about some of the challenges faced by the Church in the United States.
Cardinal Burke has never hesitated to make bold public statements in defense of the culture of life, and is viewed as a personal hero and the best of allies by those who are active in promoting faithful Catholic education, as well as those within the pro-life and pro-family movements. Notably, he has upheld and defended Cardinal Ratzinger’s instruction that persistently pro-abortion politicians or public figures must not be admitted to communion until they publicly repent.
McClure first described Burke “as a man with very firm ideas about the moral rectitude of those who profess Catholicism - ideas that don’t always sit comfortably with everyone - and I’m thinking of some of the remarks you’ve made about pro-abortion politicians, for example, receiving Communion - the Holy Eucharist - in the United States.” He then asked the Cardinal if he ever feels discouraged because people “aren’t getting the message.”
“I think it’s only natural to be tempted to discouragement, and I’ve had those temptations,” Cardinal Burke responded. “For instance, on the question of a person who publicly and obstinately espouses the right of a woman to choose to abort the infant in her womb receiving Holy Communion, strikes me as something very clear in the 2,000 years of the church’s tradition - she’s always firmly held that a person who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin should not approach to receive Holy Communion and, if he or she does, should be denied Holy Communion.”
Cardinal Burke explained that the sanction on receiving Communion for a person who publicly dissents from Church teaching is intended to “avoid for the person - himself or herself - committing a sacrilege: in other words, receiving the Sacrament unworthily, and also because the holiness of the Sacrament itself demands that one be in a state of grace to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.”
“It is discouraging that either members of the Church claim not to understand this or they claim that in some way there is an excuse for someone who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin to receive Holy Communion,” Cardinal Burke said.
“I look at it this way,” he continued. “This response on the part of many in the church comes from living in a society that’s completely secularized, and the thinking that is marked - the God-centered thinking which has marked the discipline of the church - is not easily understood by those who are bombarded day in and day out with a kind of God-less approach to the world and to many questions. So, I try not to get discouraged but try to continue to speak the message in a way that people can understand.”
Cardinal Burke expressed his understanding of the difficulty faced by his fellow priests in dealing with this issue.
“It’s difficult ... it hasn’t been easy for me to face this question with a certain number of Catholic politicians. And, I’ve had a number of priests speak to me and tell me how difficult it is when they have individuals in their parish who are in a situation of public and grave sin ... and so, they look ... to the bishop for encouragement and inspiration in dealing with this.”
However, the cleric said that is necessary to preach this message “in season and out of season, and whether it’s being warmly received or not being received or being resisted or criticized.” He stated that his committed stand on Church teaching is not only “speaking the truth with love as the Holy Scriptures say,” but that “when a bishop takes appropriate pastoral measures in this regard, he’s also helping very much brother bishops, and also the priests.”