Pope Benedict XVI named Raymond Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis as one of two Americans who will become cardinals in the Catholic Church. The pontiff said yes to the pro-life leader who has repeatedly said no to pro-abortion politicians receiving the sacrament of communion.
In a statement, Burke said he was “deeply humbled and honored” by the announcement, adding that he accepted the new position at the same time his thoughts “turn to the many challenges which the Church faces in our day.”
Burke is better known as the Catholic official who said 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry would not be allowed to receive communion at any church in St. Louis because of his staunch pro-abortion position.
Then, during the 2008 presidential election, Burke said all Catholics, including politicians, should not receive communion if they are pro-abortion.
Communion should be denied to pro-abortion politicians “until they have reformed their lives,” he said, in the interview with Radici Christiane magazine.
“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.”
Burke discussed “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,” he told the publication.
Burke also issued a challenge to ministers to make sure they are not providing the sacrament to pro-abortion lawmakers who have not repented from their position, which is at odds with the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Cardinal Newman Society, a pro-life Catholic group that monitors colleges and universities, applauded the Pope’s decision.
“Congratulations, Archbishop Burke, on the occasion of your appointment as a cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church,” the group’s president, Patrick Reilly, told LifeNews.com.
He called the appointment “a sign of encouragement for Catholics around the world praying for a deeper commitment of our institutions to their Catholic identity.”
In his statement in 2008, Burke said not denying communion makes a bad witness to other Catholics and the public.
“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 explained. “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.”
The Vatican official said the intent of the communion denial is more about spiritual than political issues.
“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,” he said.
“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 said as a warning to media outlets and abortion advocates who criticize them.
Moreover, Burke added, “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.”