Skip to comments.Bishop (Burke) preaches tough Communion rule (Turn away abortion-rights backers)
Posted on 09/28/2007 1:57:22 PM PDT by NYer
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, a veteran of clashes between Catholic bishops and politicians, has attempted for years to enlist fellow bishops to deny Holy Communion to wayward politicians.
Now, the conservative cleric is invoking the church's highest punishment -- mortal sin -- to persuade the lay and ordained Catholics who distribute Communion at Mass to safeguard the sacrament.
Drawing on the works of the late Italian Jesuit scholar Felice Cappello, Burke says those ministers are "held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy."
That argument could place Communion ministers on the frontlines of the "wafer wars" as the 2008 presidential race heats up, and as bishops debate a document on "faithful citizenship."
"It is clear that church discipline places an obligation on the minister of Holy Communion to refuse Holy Communion to persons known, by the public, to be in mortal sin," Burke writes in a new journal article.
Burke lays out his case like a legal brief in Periodica de re Canonica, a journal widely read in seminaries and published by Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, an elite school for Catholic clergy.
"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 teachings ring hollow," Burke writes.
A former top official in the Signatura, the Vatican's high court, and a noted expert in canon law, Burke previously has kicked off public debates over policing the Communion rail. While bishop of La Crosse, Wis., he ordered clergy to refuse to offer the sacrament to certain pro-abortion-rights politicians.
In 2004, Burke and a handful of other bishops said they would refuse Communion to presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Burke also said Catholics who voted for pro-abortion-rights politicians, such as Kerry, should refrain from taking the sacrament until they confessed their "mortal sin."
In his new article, the archbishop explicitly criticizes his fellow bishops, the majority of whom voted in 2004 to leave the Communion decision up to individual bishops.
Burke retorts: "The question regarding the objective state of Catholic politicians who knowingly and willingly hold opinions contrary to natural moral law would hardly seem to change from place to place."
The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the influential conservative Catholic journal First Things, called Burke's article "a scholarly tour de force."
"The (archbishop's) concern is not a political concern," Neuhaus said. "The article is about, how does the church preserve the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist?"
But the article is ambiguous in some areas, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center in Washington.
If Burke is calling on Communion ministers to disobey their bishops and deny Communion to Catholic politicians, it would be "revolutionary" and "encourage anarchy," Reese said.
"Most bishops do not want ministers of Communion playing policeman at the Communion rail," he added. "This is a significant change in focus. Suddenly, you're going to have a few thousand decisionmakers in parishes across the country."
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said Burke was unavailable to comment on this article.
God bless him!
Would that we had more like him!
There are muscles under those vestments.
1) I wish they actually were at an actual Communion Rail.
2) Get rid of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They're entirely too ordinary. Problem solved. ;'}
It is ironic that an article on abortion quotes Father Reese from Georgetown.Georgetown is now going to be paying its Law School interns that work for Planned Parenthood.
He’s absolutely right.
If you know that a sacrilege is about to be committed, and you’re able to stop it, and you choose not to stop it, I don’t know how that’s not a sin of omission.
“I thought it was much better when only the priest’s hands touched the host, communiion was by the mouth and an altar boy held a paten under the host when the priest placed the host on your tongue.”
Yes, I agree. There is less of a chance that the Blessed Sacrament is not consumed but used for other purposes.
The writer is a dingbat.
Bingo! The onus rests on the priests, not the EMHCs. And, as you commented, this is one ministry that should be abandoned. Consider that 'back in the 50's', only the priest distributed the Eucharist. How did we ever survive? (/sarcasm)
It seems pretty clear that there is no relation between the author and the Archbishop.
Bishop Burke deserves his title. The “journalist” is a poor excuse.
The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy
Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering
in Manifest Grave Sin
Discipline Regarding Reception of Holy Communion
Ten questions regarding the denial of the Eucharist.
As I just commented to Arrogant Bustard, some of us still recall a time, pre "EMHC", when communion was distributed by the priest. And back then, the Churches were packed at all the Masses - oftentimes, SRO. Amazing how we all survived, isn't it.
As you all know, I am a RC practicing my faith in a Maronite Catholic Church. Communion is by intinction, on the tongue and only distributed by the priest. Not long ago, I attended the Funeral Mass for a baby. There were so many who wanted to attend his funeral, that they had to move it to one of the larger RC parishes to accomodate everyone. The majority of attendees were Roman Catholics. Since this was a Maronite service, they made an announcement explaining to everyone that communion would be by intinction and only on the tongue. Despite a packed church, 3 priests + 1 deacon distributed the Holy Eucharist in 15 minutes.
I think the worse abuse of EMHCs I have ever seen was on a locally televised Sunday Mass (this is the RC Diocese of Albany). That particular Mass was ministered by a priest and assisting deacon. When it was time for communion, they sat down and 2 EMHCs stepped forward. There could not have been more than 20 people in attendance at that Mass. That is simply inexcusable!
Looks like he has a spine also!
A case could be made that this weasel, who was fired from his post as the editor of "America" following the election of Pope Benedict XVI, is a heretic and should be dismissed from the clerical state.
BTTT for Bishop Burke!
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