Archbishop Burke challenges pro-abort voters

Archbishop Burke challenges pro-abort voters

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis goes a step further than his previous statements and says if you are a Catholic and have voted for a pro-abortion politician, you have committed a mortal sin and must confess that before receiving Communion. That is in line with what Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs has said and goes much further than most of his brother bishops who haven’t explicitly said that voting for a pro-abort is a mortal sin.

Burke said that while there are different degrees of seriousness for such a sin “it doesn’t make a lot of difference” whether a Catholic votes for a politician who supports abortion rights because of that politician’s stance on abortion, or for other reasons. “If the voter is aware of that politician’s pro-abortion position, they would still be supporting someone who is cooperating in the promotion of abortion,” he said.

He then added that because voting is a private matter, it is less serious than the politicians actual public support for abortion. That goes toward Canon 915’s conditions that make public grave sin a special case for denial of Communion, along with excommunication and interdict.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
19 comments
  • In states where races are only between pro-abortion candidates (e.g. Weld and Kerry in 90s) would Catholics have committed a mortal sin if they had not refrained from voting at all?  I wonder . . .  Will the day come when the Church acknowledges that her faithful members must refrain from the public square, thus renouncing the dubious integralist theories that came to the fore in the medieval period and persist today on the right and left-hand aisles of the Church with their respective neoconservative- and liberation theology-inspired politics?

  • This statement is interesting coming right after the meeting in Denver. At a presentation at that meeting, Cardinal McCarrick, summarizing Cardinal Ratzinger’s recent unpublished observations to the U.S. bishops. According to Cardinal McCarrick: “It is important to note that Cardinal Ratzinger makes a clear distinction between public officials and voters, explaining that a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil _only_ if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate _precisely_ because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion. However, when a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted if there are proportionate reasons.” This would appear to be the exact opposite of what Archbishop Burke is saying. So which is it?

  • Dick Durban was just on KMOX-1120AM in St Louis as a guest and spoke at lenght on Ab. Burke’s position. As predictable as the sun rising in the East, Durbin crawfished all over the issue, “personally opposed… other issues need to be addressed…blah-blah-blah…”  Mentioned that Cardinal George seems to support his position, which is a lie. He stated that he has found a church in Chicago that will permit him Communion. Hope Cardinal George gets wind of this…and ‘pastorally and charitably barbecues Durban.

  • This is just a correction.  In the third paragraph after the “MORE…” heading, you have the following sentence, which appears to be missing a NOT before “tellling”.

    “The Church is telling you for whom to vote, but telling you how you are to vote such that you are in conformity with the will of God. ”

  • BTW, it is spelled Durbin – I know, I went to highschool with his brother. Just a form of disdain.

    Rob, I think that McCarrick has annointed himself American Pope since Mahony is on the lam. Burke’s position has been gaining favor – see George, Sheridan and others since January – and I hope and pray is doesn’t fade. Stick with Burke. You’ll be safe.

  • I’m sorry, folks, but I don’t see how Burke is right here, and McCarrick is wrong. As in the example above, what if a Catholic is unfortunate enough to live in a state or constituency in which there are no pro-life candidates? How can you tell that Catholic that he may not vote at all, under penalty of mortal sin? What if the office in contention has nothing to do with abortion policy? What if you have two pro-choice candidates for Mayor of St. Louis, one of which is tough on crime, the other of which is a complete bleeding-heart. The safety of your streets are the No. 1 issue. Does the Catholic in St. Louis have to sit out that election because the Archbishop says so?

    This is really troubling to Catholics like me, who are very careful to make sure we’re in a state of grace before receiving communion, but who are also politically engaged, and devoted to voting pro-life when we can.

  • Italian priests and bishops all over Italy in the1950s told parishioners that to vote for Communist Party candidates was a mortal sin. They explicitly said that such voters would go to Hell, if they died before confessing. Thank God they did tell people who not to vote for.

    Similarly, during the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s, priests and bishops clearly communicated the sinfulness of supporting pro-segregation candidates. Mine sure did, God bless them, and the nuns who talk me did too.

    Indeed, a Louisiana bishop famously excommunicated a Catholic politician who was pro-segregation.

    Whatever individuals believe in this current controversy, can we at least all agree that it is crazy to affirm that the right course of action is whatever a diocese’s bishop says it is.? This is intellectually and morally incoherent.

    It cannot be that it is a grievous sacrilege for a priest to give the Eucharist to a pro-abortion politician, and for the pol to receive it, in one place, but, simply by moving in space a hundred miles, or even five, it is not a grievous sacrilege. How can the non-sin, indeed the virtuous act of receiving Communion,  once again become sacriligeous if the pro-abortion pol returns to the original place where the bishop condemned such action?

    Surely this is frivolous. Nobody would argue that depriving the working man of his just wage was sinful in Boston but not sinful in Providence.

    Either the Church has a duty to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege everywhere or it does not. 

    Not everyone is eligible to receive Communion, because not everyone is in Communion. If busting your ass to keep abortion legal, if busting your ass to extend it,  if busting your ass to prevent restrictions on it, if busting your ass to cooperate with organized efforts to present it as a necessary part of life, if busting your ass for all this and more is not enough to warrant disqaulification from Communion, then nothing could be.

  • I definitely share Rod Dreher’s viewpoint, primarily because I live in Massachusetts.

    In the last gubernatorial election, we were given the choice between Shannon O’Brien (D) and Mitt Romney (R). Both support “abortion rights,” although O’Brien seems to support them more vehemently.

    O’Brien also strongly supports “same-sex marriage” rights. Romney is strongly opposed. On other issues, there were clear differences between the candidates.

    It was supposed to be a very close race. Actually, it wasn’t, but let’s assume it was.

    Had I stayed home, or wrote somebody’s name in who hadn’t a chance in hell of winning, and Shannon O’Brien became governor of Massachusetts, you can bet she wouldn’t be testifying in Washington for the Federal Marriage Defense Act, as Romney is doing.

    Yet according to what I read Archbishop Burke as saying, my vote for Romney was a mortal sin.

    Confusing, at best.

  • “As in the example above, what if a Catholic is unfortunate enough to live in a state or constituency in which there are no pro-life candidates? How can you tell that Catholic that he may not vote at all, under penalty of mortal sin?”

    In Catholic and Christian morality, Rod, one may not promote or further an evil, for whatever justification…  For Catholics, evil may never be ‘justified.’  Burke is right.  If you can’t vote for a politician who doesn’t support baby murder, then don’t vote.  Instead, fight for and support potential future candidates who don’t promote pure and unadulterated evil…

  • “Yet according to what I read Archbishop Burke as saying, my vote for Romney was a mortal sin.

    Confusing, at best. “

    It’s not confusing at all, Kelly Clark.  You just don’t like what he’s saying.

  • Hi, Kelly:

    I voted for Mitt in that race too, reluctantly, since he is pro-abortion, but you’re correct – he seemed somehow less rabidly so than O’Brien, perhaps because I believe she said that she favored unrestricted access to abortion for minors. I felt less bad voting for Mitt too bec he doesn’t make the pretense of being “Catholic” while supporting abortion “rights.” Abortion is still wrong, but it seemed like less of a lie for him to support it, although I admit I’m not sure what the Mormon teaching is on the subject.

    I’m happy that the Archbishops are speaking out, but I guess maybe they could encourage us to consider the lesser of two evils in cases where there is no pro-life candidate. Then again, if abortion in any form is intrinsically evil, can a distinction of that nature be made?

    Joanne

  • THERE is NO PENALTY of MORTAL SIN if there are only Pro-abortion candidates to choose From!!!! PLEASE everyone (ROD, KELLY) READ: “A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters” by Fr. Stephen Torraco at [url=http://www.EWTN.com]http://www.EWTN.com[/url] and go to upper right side and click onto “voter resources”.
    Bishop Burke is absolutely CORRECT. WE must and can NOT vote for a pro-abortion politician if there are PRO-LIFE ones (or atleast closer to the CHURCH’s TEACHING)available.

  • Sinner,

    I take issue with your response that one should not vote at all if both candidates are pro-abortion.  In Kelly’s example, for instance, one candidate was clearly more pro-abortion than the other.  In this case a Catholic may choose the lesser evil in good conscience.  One of the two candidates is going to be elected either way.  By exercising our moral obligation to vote (CCC # 2240), and in voting for the lesser evil we attempt to limit the amount of damage that will be done.  Our vote does not constitute personal support for the pro-abortion position, but rather an attempt to limit the greater threat posed by the other candidate.

    Neither George Bush nor John Kerry is fully pro-life.  Yet Bush is clearly more pro-life than Kerry.  Should we not vote at all, then, and risk having Kerry elected?  If he were elected, and we had not voted, then it seems to me that our non-vote would implicitly be a vote for Kerry.

    Bryan

  • It>12680

    rbitler@optonline.net

    67.83.96.124
    2004-06-28 13:53:11
    2004-06-28 17:53:11
    And Bryan,

    Ya can see where such reasoning leads…

    If you are allowed to vote for someone who supports any evil, because the other guy happens to support an even worse evil, then, guess what? = We’ll have a society which countenances much evil.

    This is one of the things which lead to a declining moral nature of society, and to more and more evil, selfishness and unlove in society over time.

  • “Whatever individuals believe in this current controversy, can we at least all agree that it is crazy to affirm that the right course of action is whatever a diocesee rest of the reportingment_author_url>
    67.83.96.124
    2004-06-28 20:46:28
    2004-06-29 00:46:28
    “How will I vote?  Again very difficult, but I will start by laying out the most important issues and evaluating whether I can vote for the good, rather than seeing if I can balance the candidates on a hope I would be able to evoke enough sympathy from a rape case that I could help comfort her as a friend.”

  • BTW, I posted the above bites from Bush’s 2000 campaign simply for accuracy, not to suggest that I don’t believe that Bush is more pro-life than Kerry.  I think that’s beyond dispute.

    The interesting thing about this thread is that it sort of recapitulates in religious terms the debate that’s roiled the RTL movement for years: the all-or-nothing approach vs. the incremental approach.  I’m an unabashed incrementalist myself.  If I’m faced with an ardent pro-abort candidate vs. a candidate who supports a partial birth abortion ban and parental notification laws, but who also hedges his opposition to abortion with the exceptions Bush mentions, it’s a no-brainer for me.  I’m going with the latter.

    But then I live in NYC, where the only choice is often between two abortion lovers who are trying to out-do each other in embracing death, in which case I vote third party. 

  • That’s interesting, PMC, now that you mention it.  I have read something on the incrementalist vs. “all-or-nothing” controversy.

    This discussion sheds some light on it, yes?

  • “If you must vote, you can always write in a candidate (there are many politicians who are opposed to abortion for any reason) as a moral protest.ment_date_gmt>2004-06-28 14:59:54
    On a related note, we just found out that our parish, Ste. Jeanne D’Arc in Lowell will be closing. It is sad, but we have known for a while that it may close. Ste.Jeanne D’Arch is very close to St. Rita’s parish, probably less than a 1/4 mile. And the 2 parishes have been collaborating for a few years. They have a joint CCD program and share summer and holiday mass schedules. We knew 1 would close.
    I thought it would be St Rita to close for a number of reasons. Attendence is slightly less at St Rita, as well as most other sacremental statistics, but not by much. Also the School my daughters attend, Ste. Jeanne D’Arc school utilizes Ste. Jeanne D’Arc parish for school masses as well as other activities. The school kids could walk to St Ritas but it would be about a 1/4 mile or so as opposed to about a 200 yards.
    So even though it seemed to make more sense to me to keep open Ste Jeanne D’Arc and close St Rita, that is not what was decided. So I must accept this and move on and support the Church at a new parish. How can I complain? I have a choice of many parishes with a couple of miles of my house. Some people in other countries travel great distances to attend mass. In some remote locations, there is no regular priest, so people must go for significant periods of time without a mass and the Eucharist. Am I going to bitch and moan because I now have to travel a 1/4 mile instead of 1/5 of a mile? These closings are necessary. My parish priest made the point in his homily a few weeks ago that the Archdiocese is not really closing parishes. If you look at the steady decline of mass attendence, you realize that the churches are already closed, the Archdiocese is just locking the doors.
    Those who still attend mass must know go about revitilizing the Church in this area. Hopefully this will be easier by combining resources and getting more like-minded Catholics together. I pray that this pruning will bear abundant fruit.

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