Monday, November 22, 2010

Cardinal Burke discusses abortion supporters and Holy Communion in Vatican Radio interview

Raymond Cardinal Burke with Pope Benedict XVI during the 2010 Consistory of Cardinals

I can't help thinking that Cardinal Burke enjoys considerable support, not just of the Holy Father, but of others in the Curia.  He is not only the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, but has been named to 4 additional congregations and a number of councils and committees since going to Rome.  On it's face, we see his skills being put to work.  However, perhaps not so apparent, is the rounding-out that he is being given, along with the broad exposure to others who are getting to know him even better.  I'm just sayin'. 

Despite that stack of duties, he still finds time to teach by speaking at conferences and granting interviews such as this one with Vatican Radio.  While it may not be changing the hearts of some of the more visible bishops who disagree with him on denying Holy Communion to pro-abort Catholic pols, it may be moving the hearts of other bishops who are in the middle.  They are the silent majority who are just trying to figure out.... who's right?  If anything, by example, Burke is teaching them to speak up, and to be bold. 

Here is a question, and an excerpt.  You can listen to the full audio here (mp3 | Real).  Emphasis mine highlighted in yellow.

Q. You’re known as a man with very firm ideas about the moral rectitude of those who profess Catholicism -- ideas that don’t always sit comfortably with everyone -- and I’m thinking of some of the remarks you’ve made about pro-abortion politicians, for example, receiving Communion -- the Holy Eucharist -- in the United States. Have you ever felt discouraged that people aren’t just getting the message?

Burke: I think it’s only natural to be tempted to discouragement, and I’ve had those temptations -- for instance, on the question of a person who publicly and obstinately espouses the right of a woman to choose to abort the infant in her womb receiving Holy Communion, strikes me as something very clear in the 2,000 years of the church’s tradition -- she’s always firmly held that a person who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin should not approach to receive Holy Communion and, if he or she does, should be denied Holy Communion.

Why? First of all, to avoid for the person -- himself or herself -- committing a sacrilege: in other words, receiving the Sacrament unworthily, and also because the holiness of the Sacrament itself demands that one be in a state of grace to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore, when I set this forth, really -- and it’s not a new idea on my part -- and if I’m firm about it I have to say that that is in line with the constant tradition of the church.

It is discouraging that either members of the church claim not to understand this, or they claim that in some way there is an excuse for someone who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin to receive Holy Communion. I look at it this way: this response on the part of many in the church comes from living in a society that’s completely secularized, and the thinking that is marked -- the God-centered thinking which has marked the discipline of the church -- is not easily understood by those who are bombarded day in and day out with a kind of God-less approach to the world and to many questions.

And so I try not to get discouraged but to try to continue to speak the message in a way that people can understand. I try not to be -- and I don’t believe that I have been -- harsh or angry in my teaching. Certainly, I always could’ve been more effective in it, but try to speak the truth with love as the Holy Scriptures say, but also to realize that one has to continue to proclaim the message in season and out of season, and whether it’s being warmly received or not being received or being resisted or criticized doesn’t excuse the bishop or the priest from teaching clearly or steadfastly.

The interview also includes some discussion of the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Further reading:
Te Deum Laudamus! Home
The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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