From National Review Online, we have a defense by Robert George and Gerard Bradley of Archbishop Raymond Burke’s order in his former diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, that pro-abortion Catholic politicians are to be denied Communion. What’s interesting about the essay is not so much that it defends Archbishop Burke’s right to do what he did, but it makes clear that all Catholic bishops have an obligation to follow suit.
Critics of those Church leaders suppose precisely what Bishop Burke supposes: If the Church is to be in solidarity with victims of injustice, bishops must not permit those Catholics who commit or abet the injustices to pretend to be Catholics in good standing with the Church.
What Bishop Burke’s critics have failed to see is that he is not acting as a political partisan or lobbyist. He knows perfectly well that his actions might, in fact, redound to the political advantage of the legislators to whom his order is directed. His specific aim is not to win specific legislative battles over abortion (however much he would agree that these battles should be fought and won); his purpose, rather, is to defend the integrity of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and to confirm in the minds and hearts of the Catholic faithful their solemn moral obligation to oppose the killing of the innocent.