Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vatican official criticizes US bishops on abortion

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis prelate who now leads the Vatican supreme court, said President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.

Burke also said parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Roman Catholic politicians who back legalized abortion.

The archbishop made the comments to anti-abortion activist Randall Terry in a videotaped interview that Terry showed Wednesday in Washington.

"It is weakening the faith of everyone," Burke said. "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

Terry conducted the interview as part of his campaign to persuade the church to oust American bishops who allow abortion rights backers to receive Communion. He said in a phone interview that Burke knew the goal of the campaign and that the interview would be distributed.

Burke could not be reached Wednesday through his Vatican office.

Michael Sean Winters, a Catholic journalist and blogger for the Jesuit magazine America, said Burke's linking himself in any way with Terry's effort violated Vatican protocol.

"It is unheard of for bishops not to defend each other in the face of zealots who are calling for their removal," Winters said.

James Hitchcock, a St. Louis University historian who was friendly with Burke when he led the local archdiocese, called the archbishop's comments "highly unusual."

Each bishop has the authority to decide how to present church teaching in his diocese. Bishops answer only to the pope.

During the 2004 election, when Burke was still in St. Louis, he sparked a rare public disagreement among U.S. bishops over the issue. He said he would deny Communion to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee and an abortion rights supporter.

A small minority of U.S. bishops took the same stand. Most American prelates say they privately discuss the issue with Catholic lawmakers and lobby all members of Congress and the president against the procedure.

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment. Obama has pledged to find ways to reduce the abortion rate, to find common ground with opponents.

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Sotto Voce

(Source: RNCN)


Anonymous said...

In the US, the Eucharist used to be a great sacrament until people like Archbishop Burke turned it into another political weapon. His frequent calls to use it a a divisive occasion, as a political litmus test, are very unfilled with grace. Some members of the Catholic hierarchy are intent upon imposing a Catholic Taliban here in the USA, and see the upcoming visit of President Obama to Notre Dame University as an occasion to steal headlines, and show Catholics as intolerant fools. Obama is not going to Notre Dame to speak on abortion. Burke is an example of how uncomfortable the Catholic hierarchy is with democracy and pluralism.

Anonymous said...

Um, for your information, the Eucharist is still a great sacrament--there's nothing "used to be" about it. The fact that hardheaded U.S. Catholics (led by hardheaded politicians) choose to desecrate it and have to be taken to task for it is another matter.

It's about time the bishops speak out and it's not about "stealing headlines". The fact is the University of ND did something stupid (yet again)--and I say this as an alumnus--in inviting Obama and conferring an honorary degree on him. Of course he won't teleprompt, I mean speak, about abortion--he's not dumb. He's already spoken on it through his reprehensible actions both as a state senator and now sitting President.

The bishops are speaking out for Truth--they should speak more easily and more often and are not perfect. But at least they are doing so now.

May God bless Archbishop Burke.

Anonymous said...

I understand and agree with all of the above comment _ "In the US the Eucharist . . ."

Sadly some of the US Bishops are protesting the invitation of Pres Obama to Notre Dame University for their Commencement ceremony. (Commencement being their final send-off to the Uni year - I guess it means the graduates Commence life thereafter in the REAL adult world).

I should think Obama may well have something to say that is worth hearing. But a number of Bishops seem to think they would be compromised if they sat on the same platform with him and have publicly announced their decisions not to attend.

I suspect their main effect will be to demonstrate - again - how far away from normal people's concerns some of the hierarchy choose to take their stance.