Skip to comments.Bishop Burke: Just Doing His Job
Posted on 01/25/2004 12:22:40 PM PST by pseudo-ignatius
"Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened ... Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth ... I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person."
--1 Corinthians 5:7-8, 11, 13.
Bishop Raymond Burke, the Archbishop-elect of St. Louis who is to be installed on Jan. 26, is bringing with him some measure of controversy. In a series of letters and declarations, his excellency declared that any Catholic politicians who support abortion and euthanasia must either renounce their public support of these issues or stop receiving Holy Communion. He also instructed the pastors of his diocese to not give Communion to politicians who publicly support abortion or euthanasia.
Among the assertions made by those who are upset about the Bishop's actions is the claim that he is somehow "violating the separation of church and state." Many assert that the Bishop is merely meddling in politics, trying to exercise political power over duly elected legislators. Is this what his excellency is doing?
Perhaps the greatest misconception about Burke's action is that he has done something radically new, autocratically decreeing that pro-abortion Catholic politicians may not receive Holy Communion. This is not the case. The term for the letter he sent to the Catholic politicians in question is a "notification." That is, His Excellency was merely notifying the politicians in question--who are members of his flock--and his pastors of certain facts that are explicitly clear in Catholic teaching.
These facts are basically as follows: procuring or formally cooperating in an abortion is a grave sin. Someone in a position of public power and influence who uses his power "in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2287) "Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense ... Scandal can be provoked by laws." (paragraphs 2284, 2286)
Those in a state of grave sin may not receive Holy Communion, and bishops and pastors have the right and responsibility to refuse Holy Communion to those who publicly commit grave sin.
All of the above may be found in the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law. Quite frankly, politicians who claim to be Catholic should know the teaching of their Church; it shouldn't even be necessary for a bishop to tell them that they aren't welcome to receive Holy Communion until they have changed their positions and received absolution from a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
While I certainly admire Burke for taking a clear stand as the shepherd of his flock, I lament that his action is seen as extravagant when he, as a successor of the Apostles, is simply doing his job.
I have to hold back the urge to laugh at the suggestion that what Burke has done is somehow a violation of the "separation of church and state." This particular phrase is found nowhere in the Constitution. What there is, however, is the First Amendment, which says the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... or the right of the people peaceably to assemble."
In no way does the Constitution forbid people from allowing their political views to be influenced by their religious views. In fact, a number of the founding fathers thought of religion as absolutely essential to the health of the Republic. John Adams once said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (I am aware that the majority of the founding fathers were virulently anti-Catholic--but that really has nothing to do with the question at hand).
The Constitution protects the free exercise of religion and the right of the people to free association. The right of the Catholic Church to make clear its own conditions for membership and participation is established first by the law of God, and it is protected legally in this country by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
Politicians who far too long have supported the grave evils of abortion and euthanasia have been allowed to call themselves "faithful Catholics." For too long have the faithful members of the Church been scandalized and confused by this public sin. I make no judgment about the actual states of the souls of these politicians, but it is clear that their actions are scandalous.
Commend Bishop Burke for stepping in to state the clear facts of our faith in this matter. By doing so, he is both protecting the faithful from scandal and caring for the souls of these Catholic politicians, in the hope that they will stop their public sin and return to full union with the Church.
Brian Carl is a junior studying history and philosophy.
REMINDER - EWTN will provide live coverage of Archbishop elect Raymond Burke's installation, Monday afternoon beginning at 3pm EST. They have set aside 3 hours for the mass.
Published: Friday, Jan. 23 2004
Services on Sunday and Monday will welcome Archbishop-elect Raymond Burke to St. Louis. He is expected to drive from his current diocese of La Crosse, Wis., to St. Louis Saturday.
On Sunday, Burke will preach at a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, 4431 Lindell Boulevard in the city's Central West End.
Near the end of the 90-minute service, 70 Catholic leaders, interfaith leaders and state, county and city elected officials will be escorted into the sanctuary to meet Burke. About 9 p.m., a reception will follow at Rosati-Kain High School, just east of the church.
At 2 p.m. Monday at the basilica, Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli of the Papal Nunciature in Washington will read the pope's message appointing Burke to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The assembly will be asked to applaud as a gesture of giving its consent to the appointment. Then, in an ancient ritual, Burke will be seated formally in the cathedra - the chair - of the cathedral.
Many bishops from Wisconsin, Missouri and other states will concelebrate the Mass of St. Timothy and St. Titus immediately after the seating ceremony. A reception at Rosati-Kain will follow. Burke will preach at the Monday service also. The 100-voice Archdiocesan Choir, the Bell Choir and the cathedral orchestra will provide music.
The church doors will open at 11 a.m. and the clergy procession will begin at 1:30 p.m. for the Monday installation service. Interfaith leaders will be special guests at that service also.
Both services and receptions are open to the public.
Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 16, Burke will celebrate 10 evening Masses at churches in each of the 10 deaneries - geographical divisions - of the archdiocese. At each one, he will have dinner with the deanery priests before the Mass and remain afterward to meet the parishioners of that deanery.
For more information call (314) 792-7000.
Wonder how many of these folk are going to get some upsetting letters from the new archbishop.
PS - would you like to be added to my catholic ping list? You'll get the news - at least "what's fit to print" of it ;-D
Dsc, if their faces showed evil then no one would have permitted their children around them... I am thinking of two well known abusers here... John Geoghan and Paul Shanley... particularly Geoghan looked like he couldn't and wouldn't hurt a fly. Part of the evil is that these priests looked normal and kind.
I know I am slow but I don't know what this means!