Bishop Denies Communion to Politicians Who Support Abortion and Euthanasia

National Catholic Reporter, January 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Bishop Denies Communion to Politicians Who Support Abortion and Euthanasia


Bishop Raymond Burke has directed priests of the La Crosse, Wis., diocese not to give Communion to politicians who openly support "procured abortion or euthanasia."

Burke, who will be installed as archbishop of St. Louis Jan. 26, issued the decree on Nov. 23 but did not publicize it until Jan. 8. "Catholic legislators who are members of the faithful of the diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion," Burke's order stated.

"They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such a time as they publically renounce their support of these unjust practices," it said.

Support of abortion and euthanasia "is a grave public sin and gives scandal to all the faithful," Burke wrote.

Burke released the same day a pastoral letter, "On the Dignity of Human Life and Civic Responsibility," in which he said, "As Catholics, we face a special and critical challenge when the moral law demands something different from what society sanctions."

The two documents followed reports in the secular press in December that Burke had sent private letters to three Catholic legislators in the diocese, warning them of the spiritual dangers of their votes against human life.

According to Burke, the notification became necessary as an outcome of his correspondence with Catholic legislators. None of the three lawmakers to whom he wrote accepted his invitation for a private meeting to discuss their voting records, and in letters to the bishop indicated they were not open to changing their positions.

"After several exchanges of letters, it became clear in all three cases that there was no willingness to conform to the teaching of the church," he said. "So the notification became a necessity in order that the faithful in the diocese not be scandalized, thinking that it is acceptable for a devout Catholic to also be pro-abortion. …

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