Catholic Bishop Will Continue Focus on Abortion and Communion Debate

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishop Will Continue Focus on Abortion and Communion Debate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 1, 2004

St. Louis, MO ( — A Catholic bishop who drew national attention and sparked an intense debate when he said pro-abortion Catholic politicians shouldn’t receive communion has no plans to let up on his efforts even though the election year is over.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis told the Catholic News Service in an interview that he expects the abortion-communion debate to continue.

He told CNS that his outspoken position — which included a statement that he would refuse communion to pro-abortion presidential candidate John Kerry — has earned him criticism from detractors.

"It’s funny because some people now characterize me as a fundamentalist, or an extremist," Archbishop Burke said.

"But these are questions that are at the very foundation of the life of our country. We just simply have to continue to address them," he added.

Burke later added to his position on abortion and the Christian sacrament with a letter to parishioners saying he thought it was inappropriate for faithful Catholics to vote for candidates who back abortion.

Despite the controversy, Archbishop Burke told CNS that the subject did not come up in recent meetings with the Pope and other Catholic leaders in a trip he took to the Vatican.

"To be honest, no one has raised the question with me," he said.

Burke indicated he did not act with instructions from the Vatican, but on his own as a pastoral leader for Catholics in Missouri.

He told the Catholic News Service he was happy so many voters cast ballots with moral issues like abortion in mind.

"That is encouraging to me. It is also a great challenge, because now it falls to the church and to other moral leaders to continue to raise these questions, to write about them, to engage in civic discourse so that they continue to have that priority," Burke said.

The nation’s Catholic bishops met over the summer to debate the abortion-communion issue and decided to allow individual bishops to decide on their own whether to allow or prohibit pro-abortion elected officials from taking the sacrament.

After the decision, numerous bishops said pro-abortion politicians should not be given communion. Many also instructed churches within their jurisdiction to distribute statements about abortion and the elections encouraging churchgoers to vote pro-life.