The Catholic leader who Pope Benedict named a new cardinal said in a new interview that faithful Catholics can’t in good conscience vote for pro-abortion candidates.
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 last week.
Burke, who is the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “Supreme Court” gave an interview to Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family.
“As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith,” Burke said.
“You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion,” he added plainly.
He said his words are not meant as a criticism of how people vote, but they are “simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”
McKenna responded to the interview with her own remarks applauding and affirming Burke’s.
“Millions of Catholics have no idea it’s a sin to vote for candidates who favor these grave evils, which attack the very foundations of society,” he told LifeNews.com. “This matter-of-fact, pointed interview granted to me by Archbishop Raymond Burke in Rome last week makes it very clear what the responsibility of every American Catholic will be next Tuesday.”
Burke has taught repeatedly that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights may not receive Holy Communion and that Catholics who know of the politicians’ voting record on these issues cannot vote for them and retain “a clear conscience.”
Burke said in 2004 that 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.”
At the time, 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.
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.”