Friday, June 18, 2004

Catholic Lawmakers Take Heed

by Nick France

A wake up call was sent out to all Catholic lawmakers recently, and leading the charge is former the Bishop of La Crosse, Wis.–who was recently installed Archbishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke.

In an effort to make clear the teaching of the Catholic Church, and more importantly the consequences of ignoring the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, Bishop Burke issued a formal decree in January.

The decree bars any Catholic lawmaker in his diocese who favors abortion from receiving Holy Communion.

Now I must admit, when I first read this, I thought, "Woah, This is going to ruffle a few feathers." Then I thought, "Why not?" If not Catholic Bishops, then who? Who else will speak up? The laity are certainly not sending the message to dissenting Catholic lawmakers.

In his notification, the Bishop said, "A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion or euthanasia, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin, which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Further more, the decree ordered priests to withhold communion from such lawmakers until they "publicly renounce" their support of abortion rights.

The American Life League, a Virginia-based Pro-life group that encourages bishops to take such action, hailed the move as "a historic step forward."

"We have diligently brought to the attention of America's bishops the pro-abortion public comments of Catholic elected officials in each of their dioceses, and the Church's remedy for this disparity," said American Life League's president, Judie Brown.

The American Life League mounted a Crusade for the Defense of our Catholic Church and unveiled its latest ad campaign, "The Way of La Crosse" which pays tribute to Bishop Burke.

"It is our sincere hope that Bishop Burke’s actions will not only inspire similar actions from his brother bishops individually, but that they will also serve as a template for how the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ new task force deals with pro-abortion Catholic politicians nationwide," said Joseph M. Starrs, director of American Life League’s Crusade.

"They must send out a clear, unambiguous message, backed by the full authority of their office: you cannot be pro-abortion and Catholic," Starrs added.

Has Archbishop Raymond Burke gone too far? Has he crossed the line? Or is he doing his job, and catching the heat in the process? Surely his critics whom are both Catholic and non-Catholic, have called him a fanatic. Most are liberals, and are insisting that the separation of church and state forbid religious leaders from imposing their views on public officials on matters of public policy.

I dare say he is doing what needs to be done. And I believe it’s time for all clergy in this country to hold all self-proclaimed, religious lawmakers to the faithful teachings of their respective doctrines. These types of actions are much needed by Christian Pastors in the coming months as politician’s justify using their faith as a tool, while failing to uphold their duty, regarding faith in the public square.

I’m proud to see the actions of Archbishop Raymond Burke and similar actions by other Catholic bishops leading the charge. I offer my support in this cause, and I hope that all that read this are moved to do the same. Why? Because, we all know it’s the right thing to do. As Catholic Christians we respect the dignity of life from "conception to natural death."

Politicians often hide behind this indignant notion that they need not hold fast to any integrity regarding their Christian faith because they represent all types of people, both believers and non-believers alike. One cannot go to church on Sunday to worship the Lord and then forget about him the rest of the week. That goes for all of us, not just lawmakers.

We sometimes go to work and disregard Christ. We disregard our faith. We don’t speak of Christ. We don’t speak of our faith. We save it for Sunday only. Why do Americans feel as though we have to hide our faith and our beliefs in the work place, and be made to feel that we can be Christians only on Sundays?

Why can’t we maintain the integrity of Christianity seven days a week? That is the very nature of integrity. I struggle with adhering to it from time to time, but I know I must if I want to claim integrity. We all know this and most strive for it.

If lawmakers were to maintain the integrity of their faith throughout the week, they would be able to search their souls and their beliefs, which would guide them in their decisions as lawmakers. Let’s face it, we look to them to protect us through our laws.

"Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand more." (Luke 12:48)

Abortion is a grave sin. We know this inherently. If you have Christ in your heart you just know it to be true. Sometimes we get lost along the way, we stumble and we fall. We know the mercy of Christ and we know we can always ask for forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. We have the Church to guide us and ground us. We can always search scripture, the Catechism, or even Canon Law for answers.

Here’s some Church teachings that certainly someone as smart as a politician can research, if it has not already been taught to them some where along their lives.

The Gravity of abortion
"God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes."
-- Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, No. 51

"Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2271

"A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication."
-- Canon 1398, CIC 1983

The Responsibilities of Catholics Who Hold Public Office

§1. "Since, like all the Christian faithful, lay persons are designated by God for the apostolate through baptism and confirmation, they are bound by the general obligation and possess the right as individuals, or joined in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known and accepted by all persons everywhere in the world. This obligation is even more compelling in those circumstances in which only through them can people hear the gospel and know Christ."

§2."According to each one's own condition, they are also bound by a particular duty to imbue and perfect the order of temporal affairs with the spirit of the gospel and thus to give witness to Christ, especially in carrying out these same affairs and in exercising secular functions."
-- Canon 225, CIC 1983

All Catholic politicians should be aware of the various positions of the Church. It’s not as though the pro-abortion politicians from La Crosse didn’t know that this was coming. Deal Hudson, a top Catholic advisor to President Bush, and publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine, a conservative Catholic monthly, reported in an e-letter back in December that Bishop Burke sent politicians in the La Crosse diocese a private letter encouraging them to reconsider their position on abortion.

Hudson went on to say, and I agree whole heartily, "Archbishop Raymond Burke is not demanding that all Seven Sacraments be legally recognized; he is just asking that lawmakers not act contrary to the teachings of their faith."

Last November the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops named a task force of bishops to consider how bishops should deal with Catholic officials who oppose basic Catholic moral tenets. Later that month, they published a complex booklet titled "Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility."

Well, the charge has been mounted and the lawmakers have been warned. I just hope other bishops take the lead of Archbishop Raymond Burke, who is saying, "Catholic lawmakers take heed." †

Side Bar:
Who’s Who of Pro-Abortion Legislators

American Life League publishes the names of public officials who "claim the Catholic faith yet ignore the church's clear teachings on the sanctity of human life." They have identified more than 500 state and federal officials. The full list can be found at http://www.

Here are fifteen pro-abortion U.S. Senators who claim the Catholic faith:
Lisa Murkowski, AK
Christopher Dodd, CT
Joseph Biden, DE
Tom Harkin, IA
Dick Durbin, IL
Mary Landrieu, LA
Edward Kennedy, MA
John Kerry, MA
Barbra Mikulski, MD
Susan Collins, ME
John F. "Jack" Reed, RI
Thomas Daschle, SD
Patrick Leahy, VT
Patty Murray, WA
Maria Cantwell, WA

Here are thirteen pro-abortion Florida legislators who claim the Catholic faith:
FL. St. Rep. Audrey Gibson
FL. St. Rep. Bob Henriquez
FL. St. Rep. Carl Domino
FL. St. Rep. Connie Mack
FL. St. Rep. John Seiler
FL. St. Rep. Juan Planas
FL. St. Rep. Juan Zapata
FL. St. Rep. Julio Robaina
FL. St. Rep. Mary Brandenburg
FL. St. Rep. Nancy Detert
FL. St. Rep. Timothy Ryan
FL. St. Sen. Nancy Argenziano
FL. St. Sen. Walter Campbell

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