For the past several months, the intention of the Church in the United States of America has been very much in my prayers. At their coming November meeting, the Bishops of the United States will be considering the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law…. I have, more and more, thought about the experience of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops over 17 years ago, at their summer meeting in Denver in June of 2004, in addressing the same issue. It is an experience which I lived intensely….
The context of the June 2004 meeting of the United States Bishops was the campaign of Senator John Kerry for President of the United States. Senator Kerry claimed to be a Catholic, while, at the same time, supporting and promoting abortion on demand in the nation. At the time, I was archbishop of Saint Louis (appointed on December 2, 2003, and installed on January 26, 2004). As had been my practice as bishop of La Crosse (appointed on December 10, 1994, and installed on February 22, 1995), I admonished Senator Kerry not to present himself to receive Holy Communion because, after having been duly admonished, he persisted in the objectively grave sin of promoting directly procured abortion. I was not the only bishop to admonish him thus….
Knowing my moral obligation in a matter of such serious consequences, defined in can. 915, I began to contact the legislators from the diocese of La Crosse, asking to meet with them to discuss the complete incoherence of their position regarding procured abortion with the Catholic faith they professed. Sadly, none of them was willing to meet with me. One carried out a certain correspondence with me, insisting that his position regarding abortion was consistent with the Catholic faith, following the erroneous counsel presented by certain dissident professors of moral theology, adherents of the heretical school of proportionalism, at a summit held at the Hyannisport compound of the Kennedy Family in the summer of 1964. Documentation of the meeting is found in a book of Albert R. Jonsen who accompanied one of the dissident European professors of moral theology and was present for the entire meeting….
When I was archbishop of Saint Louis, one Catholic legislator agreed to meet with me, even though, as his parish priest also attested, he was not presenting himself to receive Holy Communion. He began the meeting by showing me a picture of his family. As I recall, his wife and he had four children. As our conversation progressed, I asked him how, having so proudly shown me the picture of his children, he could regularly vote in favor of killing babies in the womb. He immediately lowered his head and said: “It is wrong. I know that it is wrong.” While I urged him to act according to his conscience, which he had just expressed, I had to admire the fact that, at least, he admitted the evil in which he was involved and did not try to present himself to me as a devout Catholic….
With the announcement of my transfer from the diocese of La Crosse to the archdiocese of Saint Louis on December 2, 2003, the secular press traveled to the diocese of La Crosse, in order to find material for the creation of a negative image of the new archbishop before his arrival in the archdiocese. Whereas, before my transfer, there was no public discussion of my pastoral interventions with the lawmakers in question, as is altogether appropriate, the matter now became public in December of 2003 and January of 2004.
In putting the question of the application of can. 915 before the body of bishops at its meeting in June of 2004, the pastoral action which I had taken in the diocese of La Crosse and was beginning to take in the archdiocese of Saint Louis was placed in serious question. To illustrate the fact, during a break in the meeting, I encountered, on a stairwell, one of the eminent members of the Conference of Bishops, who shook his finger at me, declaring: You cannot do what you have been doing without the approval of the Conference of Bishops. To be clear, other bishops were following a similar pastoral action. I responded to his declaration by pointing out that, when I die, I will appear before the Lord to give an account of my service as bishop, not before the Conference of Bishops….
The discussion during the meeting in June of 2004 was difficult and intense. Without going into the details of the discussion, there seemingly was no consensus among the bishops, even though there was among some of the most influential bishops the desire to avoid any intervention with Catholic politicians who, according to the discipline of can. 915, should not be admitted to receive Holy Communion. Ultimately, the president, the then Bishop Wilton Gregory of the diocese of Belleville, remanded the matter to a Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians under the chairmanship of the then Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who was clearly opposed to the application of can. 915 in the case of Catholic politicians supporting procured abortion and other practices which gravely violate the moral law. The task force was comprised of a group of bishops with mixed views on the subject. In any case, with time, the task force was forgotten, and the critical issue was left unaddressed by the Conference of Bishops. When Bishop Gregory announced the task force, the bishop sitting next to me observed that we could now be certain that the issue would not be addressed….
In the Spring of 2004, while I was in Washington, D.C., for pro-life activities, I met privately for forty-five minutes with one of the highest-placed officials in the federal government, a non-Catholic Christian who manifested great respect for the Catholic Church. In the course of our conversation, he asked me whether, in view of the serious health difficulties of Pope Saint John Paul II, the election of a new Pope could mean a change in the Church’s teaching regarding procured abortion. I expressed some surprise at his question, explaining that the Church can never change its teaching on the intrinsic evil of procured abortion because it is a precept of the natural law, the law written by God on every human heart. He responded that he asked the question because he had concluded that the Church’s teaching in the matter could not be that firm, since he could name for me 80 or more Catholics in the Senate and House of Representatives, who regularly support pro-abortion legislation….
The second event took place during my visit to Rome in late June and early July of 2004, in order to receive from Pope John Paul II the pallium of the metropolitan archbishop of Saint Louis. Given the difficult experience of the meeting in Denver, earlier in the month of June, I was counseled to visit the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in order to be certain that my pastoral practice was coherent with the Church’s teaching and practice. I was received in audience by the then Prefect of the Congregation, His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and the then secretary of the congregation, Archbishop, now Cardinal, Angelo Amato, and an English-speaking official of the congregation. Cardinal Ratzinger assured me that the congregation had studied my practice and found nothing objectionable about it. He only cautioned me not to support publicly candidates for office, something which, in fact, I had never done. He expressed some surprise at my doubt in the matter, given a letter which he had written to the United States Bishops, which had addressed the question thoroughly. He asked whether I had read his letter. I told him that I had not received the letter and asked whether he could kindly provide a copy for me. He smiled and suggested that I read it on a popular blog, asking the English-speaking official to make a photocopy of the text as it appeared in its entirety on the blog.
The letter in question sets forth in an authoritative manner the Church’s constant teaching and practice. The failure to distribute it to the United States bishops certainly contributed to the failure of the bishops in June of 2004 to take appropriate action in the implementation of can. 915. Now, I am told that it is maintained that the letter was confidential and, therefore, cannot be published. The truth is that it was published, already in early July of 2004, and that clearly the Prefect of the Congregation, who authored it, was not at all disturbed about the fact….
I invite you to pray with me for the Church in the United States of America and in every nation, that, faithful to the mission of Christ, her Bridegroom, she will be faithful, limpid and uncompromising in the application of can. 915, defending the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, safeguarding the souls of Catholic politicians who would grievously violate the moral law and still present themselves to receive Holy Communion, thereby committing sacrilege, and preventing the most serious scandal caused by the failure to observe the norm of can. 915.
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
28 October 2021
Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
The above comes from an Oct. 28 Presentations release from Cardinal Burke.
Thank goodness we have a head of the Conservative Catholic Church in America whose job it is to give the American Bishops their “framework”.
Oh wait. Cardinal Burke has no say in the Catholic Church except as a single member of the Bishops conference and college of Cardinals. He gets his own one single vote at the USCCCB.
I’m not sure this headline is accurate about what he said, but if that is the take-away, his arrogance will not be met with admiration.
Let me correct you in fraternal charity.
There is no Conservative Catholic Church. There is only the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Burke has no vote in the USCCB general assemblies because he is not an active bishop of any diocese in the United States.
Thank you sir the correction. I would also note that he has no authority over any Catholic anywhere since he is neither pastor nor ordinary anywhere in the world. Heck, he’s lucky to get out of bed in the morning after being on a ventilator so long.
Who? How horrible, your awful posts, regarding the great, courageous, honest, true Catholic prelate, Cardinal Burke.
Christifidelis, he has no authority. A pope without a church. You may think that truth to be horrible but what is truly horrible is your implication that other prelates are false Catholics. Prelates who shepherd real live flocks. Who? Are you referring to?
Who?– you need respect for Cardinal Burke. We should especially respect Catholic prelates who are honest, and true to the Catholic Faith. Not all Catholic prelates these days are honest– that is the big problem. If you do not accept Catholic teaching, if you believe in the evil of Abortion– then you should not present yourself for Communion.
Please. I know Cardinal burke is a loyal son of the Church. Please don’t put him on a pedestal. Honestly, Cardinal Burke would probably say “thank you but…” to your post. He does not want to be a source of contention between Catholics.
He has had enemies throughout his life. Every Christian does. The devil sees to that.
me, you misunderstand. Nobody puts Cardinal Burke on a pedestal. Whether you agree with him or not, everyone should respect Cardinal Burke. He nearly died from COVID-19 recently, and everyone should be kindly aware of that, and offer sympathy and kind remarks. The evil remarks from some “Catholics,” here, on a Catholic website– are a horror!
No one disrespected Cardinal Burke on this page.
Who? Again– Cardinal Burke deserves the respect of all. He is a good, sincere Catholic prelate, with whom we are blessed. He is recovering from COVID-19, and nearly died. You should set aside petty personal prejudices, forgive those you dislike, offer prayers for the recovery of Burke and other Catholic leaders who have been seriously ill– and show our good prelates respect.
Not just Cardinal Burde, but every person. That is a tenet of Christianity.
“I’m not sure this headline is accurate about what he said, but if that is the take-away, his arrogance will not be met with admiration.” The editors can correct me if I am wrong, but this headline is not from Cardinal Burke but from them. That is, it is their hope that Burke will give the bishops the framework they need to find their prophetic voice. You may find fault with them for their pro-life views and may wish to advocate for abortion on this site — that is your right. But state plainly your views rather than hide behind insult.
What a nasty little post on your part. As a Cardinal, His Eminence, has the teaching authority of any bishop and we are all the better for it, except for those who will not listen. FYI, the USCCB is only a guiding organization, no bishop anywhere in the US has to answer to them or follow what they decide to do on any one issue or all issues. It is out of care for all Catholics that Cd.Burke continues to provide us with his wisdom and undying faith to Christ. I know the Cardinal personally and he is kind and gentle, and above all dedicate to Our Lady and the Church. He is not “lucky” to be off the ventilator, God saved him to continue the work he does. Shame on you.
No he doesn’t. He has no flock and therefore no teaching authority.
He’s a cardinal, and therefore a priest, and in spite of that he has no teaching authority? If he visited our local parishes he would be told by the bishop “Oh, just go and sit with the congregations. Since you have no teaching authority, you can’t celebrate Mass or give a sermon here”?
I think you misunderstand “teaching authority.”
You don’t know that God saved him, and you don’t know why even if he did.
Wonder what happened to that CDF letter? Oh, right . . .
Greg– I agree. Very shocked– that CDF letter situation looks very dishonest, deceitful… whom can we truly trust, in the Vatican?? Cdl. Burke is very courageous.
Blah…blah…blah…It’s all about him, Cardinal Burke, and how he is the best Bishop in the USA. Did Steve Bannon write this article for the Cardinal? Cardinal Burke is a stooge for the extreme alt right.
I appreciated the amount of detail he gave and the account of his experiences.
Fred– No. Cardinal Burke is a rare, gifted, and 100% honest Catholic prelate. He courageously stands up and defends the 2,000+ years-old true Faith of Jesus Christ– and courageously defends precious, unborn children in their mothers’ wombs. Other Catholic leaders are all cowardly frauds, and refuse to stand up and defend the helpless unborn children. Either you believe or you don’t. And if you don’t believe, and if you are an Abortion supporter– or if you are a cowardly “Catholic” leader who refuses to defend the helpless unborn children– you must not dishonestly and fraudulently call yourself a “Catholic”– and must not present yourself for Communion– including dishonest “Catholic” prelates! And who is that dumb, young, radical, misfit “brat”– “Steve Bannon?” Has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and our Catholic Faith.
Alright, so Steve Bannon is fine on his own, an “alt-right” extremely radical, secular political media and jounalist “Breitbart” leader, highly critical of dishonest Catholic leaders (which I agree with). Cdl. Burke refused to allow Bannon to manipulate him. Bannon, a secular layman, has nothing to do with the Catholic Church.
Well that brat Steve Bannon has been held in contempt of Congress and we are awaiting the prosecution by the DOJ
The Jan. 6th riots at the Capitol was a very dangerous event. I don’t trust Steve Bannon.
Being held in contempt of Congress is not a bad thing since Congress is a den of criminals
Fred, I cannot imagine a response more vapid and void of relevance to the issue at hand than your own. I believe the Cardinal was advocating for unborn babies, not himself. If you read otherwise, it is not from a lack of ability to read, but from a lack of will to confront the issues Burke addresses in thread. Or perhaps you have the will to confront the issue at hand, and you are just fine with abortion. If that be the case, you should tell us plainly and not descend into the mud. Fair enough?
Fred, Wow, “stooge”, “extreme right”, what about the Catholic Church do you really hate? The part that says abortion is murder? The Church has solid doctrine about abortion, and it has nothing to do with Bannon or anyone else. Abortion is murder and to support it offends God. When a person, anyone, does so, they should confess and repent before receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion. Does this sound foreign to you? If so, study your Catechism and quit taking pot shots at a cardinal who is both holy and courageous. God bless Cardinal Burke, he is a blessing to us.
Look an angry liberal whose kind wrecked the Church…..
Cardinal Burke’s account touches me to my core. He represents the faith of my fathers in its profound simplicity of truth. This truth brings me closer to God, for which I am eternally grateful to experience in these times of great turmoil within our own true Church and secular society. Count me as a witness to Cardinal Burke’s goodness when he stands in judgement in front of the Lord.
I do not know why I cannot give you a thumbs up now, but I will try later.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, whom Pope Francis just gave one of the highest awards that can be given to any Catholic layperson, has always liked Cardinal Burke. If he is good enough for her, I trust what he writes. Dietrich and Alice Von Hildebrand came out against the Nazis during World War II.
May Dietrich von Hildebrand , through the mercy of God, rest in peace, and God bless Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and Cardinal Burke.
LifeSiteNews announced a petition for all to sign, to stop so-called “Catholic” Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, from allowing their “Women in Politics” student group from holding a big Planned Parenthood fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 5th. I signed the petition– hope this evil fundraiser is stopped.
Here is the link to LifeSiteNews, to sign their petition to stop the so-called “Jesuit,” “Catholic” LMU “Women in Politics” Friday Nov. 5th Planned Parenthood fundraiser:
LMU = Leftists and Marxists United
RenewLMU, a group at LMU that is trying to revive the Catholic Faith and mission of LMU, has a petition to LMU President Snyder, to stop the evil Fri. Nov. 5th Planned Parenthood fundraiser. You can view their petition and sign it, at this link:
The place to sign the LMURenew petition is at the bottom of the letter to the LMU President. You don’t have to be an LMU student to sign, just skip that part, and maybe state that you are a “Concerned Catholic.”
Since they are calling it the most controversial fundraiser of the year on their Instagram, I do not think it will be stopped.
Check out the groups LinkedIn page for a link.
At a meeting in Sept. with Jesuits in Slovakia, Pope Francis, when questioned about his health, made the remark that he is doing better after his recent operation, but sadly added his belief that “some people wanted him to die.” Tragic! Why would a Pope say such a horrible thing? Whether we agree with a religious leader or not, we should always wish them well, and we should always pray for the Pope, regardless of our agreement/disagreement with him. Forgive him, pray for him, and respect him, regardless. All people are God’s beloved children. And we are free to agree or disagree with anything they say or do– but still, we owe all people whom we may meet each day, our Christian love and respect. Including the Pope and Cardinal Burke.