Archbishop Raymond Burke, Archdiocese of St Louis
, is considered "one of America's sharpest canon lawyer bishops
" by no less an expert than Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD
(IMHO no slouch himself when it comes to canon law.) In a recent post
on his blog, Dr. Peters had some high praise for an article written by Archbishop Burke "in perhaps the world's most prestigious canon law journal (Periodica de re Canonica in Rome)
". In fact, Dr. Peters is so impressed by the insight shown in the article that he considers it award worthy:"Oh, how I wish someone would give a prize for "Most Important Canonical Article Published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal". I know what I would nominate for 2007.
So what was Archbishop Burke writing about? Probably 1 of the most important Canon law topics of our day: "How is Canon 915 to be properly applied to those politicians who are Catholic & support abortion?"
Canon 915 says: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." There has been a lot of debate on when, how or even if it should be applied to politicians like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi etc. In 2004 Archbishop Burke came under a lot of fire for his willingness to enforce it in his diocese. After doing so, he put a lot of other bishops in a position they didn't want to be in. & now, he is at it again.
1 of the bishops he takes on is Cardinal Mahony (Here we go again, Cardinal Mahony not accurately teaching the truths of the Church.). But he also is willing to take on the entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops
. In response to Archbishop Burke's 2004 statement, the US Bishops issued "Catholics in Political Life
" at their June meeting. Archbishop Burke says the statement "failed to take account of the clear requirement to exclude from Holy Communion those who, after appropriate admonition, obstinately persist in supporting publicly legislation which is contrary to the natural moral law.
Archbishop Burke makes it clear that he wrote this article for 1 purpose only. "In the midst of what must objectively be called confusion, it seems best to study the history of the legislation articulated in can. 915, in order to understand the Church's constant practice and the mind of Pope John Paul II, the legislator of the 1983 Code of Canon Law."
Some parts of the article will be a little to scholarly for those who don't have a canon law background. However, the main points are clearly understandable by all. Thus no 1 has an excuse not to read it. (link below) Archbishop Burke looks at the history of the dicipline of who is & isn't admitted to Communion. He also looks at the Eastern Code of Canons
& what it has to say on the subject. In particular he points out Canon 712 : "Those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the Divine Eucharist.
Archbishop Burke ends the article with a clarion call to all bishops to do their job & enforce canon 915. "(T)he discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.
I am deeply aware of the difficulty which is involved in applying the discipline of can. 915. I am not surprised by it and do not believe that anyone should be surprised. Surely, the discipline has never been easy to apply. But what is at stake for the Church demands the wisdom and courage of shepherds who will apply it.
The United States of America is a thoroughly secularized society which canonizes radical individualism and relativism, even before the natural moral law. The application, therefore, is more necessary than ever, lest the faithful, led astray by the strong cultural trends of relativism, be deceived concerning the supreme good of the Holy Eucharist and the gravity of supporting publicly the commission of intrinsically evil acts. Catholics in public office bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the moral law in the exercise of their office which is exercised for the common good, especially the good of the innocent and defenseless. When they fail, they lead others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to be deceived regarding the evils of procured abortion and other attacks on innocent and defenseless human life, on the integrity of human procreation, and on the family. "
Mille Grazie Archbishop Burke for being a true shepherd. Thank you for having the courage to do what you need to do in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.