CNA: National Review writer interviews Archbp. Burke on airplane

From CNA comes this:

Archbishop Burke: Catholics could not have voted for Obama with ‘clear conscience’

President Barack Obama / Archbishop Raymond Burke

.- Returning to Rome after addressing the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Archbishop Raymond F. Burke said in an interview that a Catholic who knew Obama’s "clearly announced" agenda on life issues and marriage could not have voted for him "in clear conscience.[Archbp. Burke will say it.  But I believe that when some priests suggested this in the USA they were pretty nearly "disciplined".]

The archbishop’s comments came in response to questions from Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online during his flight from Washington, D.C. to Rome.

In her interview, Lopez remarked that Archbishop Burke had seemingly made very clear that Catholic voters "collaborated with evil" when they voted for Obama.

If one is a Catholic who voted for Obama, she asked, "do you have to confess this now that Mexico City, embryo-destructive funding, among other things, have happened?"

The archbishop responded that if a Catholic "knowingly and deliberately" votes for a person who is in favor of "the most grievous violations of the natural moral law," then he has "formally cooperated in a grave evil and must confess his serious sin.

"Since President Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience."

During his campaign, President Obama said he was not in favor of same-sex "marriage" but he endorsed civil unions.

Archbishop Burke, who formerly headed the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. The office oversees the Roman Rota in hearing canonical appeals from dioceses around the world.

In other remarks in his interview with Lopez, the archbishop said that "consistent witness" of Catholics[we are back to the Catholic identity issue] respect for the "inviolable dignity" of innocent human life and for the "integrity of marriage" can [Why is a clear Catholic identity important?  Read on…] help change minds and hearts of those who do not see the wrongness of abortion or the need to safeguard marriage and the family from threats like same-sex "marriage."

In addition to prayer and fasting, he added, minds can also be changed by effectively communicating both the "most serious moral implications" of giving parents the right "to destroy the child they have conceived" and the implications of redefining the "fundamental nature" of marriage.  [I think His Excellency is communicating effectively.]

Asked about bishops’ actions toward self-described Catholic politicians who support legal abortion, Archbishop Burke said it was not his place to declare what a diocesan bishop should or should not be doing in a particular situation.

Those concerned about the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama as commencement speaker, he said, should make their concerns known in writing to Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins and Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend John M. D’Arcy. They should also write Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the office responsible in matters concerning Catholic universities.

[His Eminence
Zenon Card. Grocholewski
Prefect of the Congregation for
    Catholic Education
P.za Pio XII
00120 VATICAN CITY]

In his other comments to Lopez, Archbishop Burke praised consecrated virgins as a "strong witness to the purity and selflessness with which we all should love one another" and as a "public witness to the love of Christ for all.[Archbp. Burke was the US bishops point-man for the consecrated virgins in the USA, who also have an organization and newletter.]

He said he was attracted by the possibility of directly serving Pope Benedict in his Vatican position. Asked to give his advice for his successor in St. Louis, Archbishop Robert Carlson, he declined. However, he noted he had congratulated the prelate.

Lopez noted that the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast audience was at its most supportive when he described the Notre Dame Obama invitation controversy as an "outrage." She asked the archbishop whether he worried whether his audience "waits for the headline-making applause lines" but misses the message about spiritual works and devotionals.

"The heart of my message was conversion of life; prayer and participation in the Sacraments; study and reflection; and action," Archbishop Burke said.

The "strong response" to his description of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama, he said, reflected "the degree to which faithful Catholics are profoundly scandalized by the proposed conferral of an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws upon a highly public figure who is pursuing so aggressively a program of procured abortion and same-sex marriage."  [And THAT, dear friends, is the real point.  It is not a matter of politics.]

Don’t let anyone just sweep by you with the false premise that the reason many bishops are resisting Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honor on Pres. Obama is really politically motived, that is, they are echoing talking points of the Republican Party.  That is simply false.  This is not political.

We should be upset that a Catholic university has chosen to bestow an honor on a person who is so aggressively pro-abortion.  That’s it. 

The piece by Jean Lopez of National Review Online.

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30 Responses to CNA: National Review writer interviews Archbp. Burke on airplane

  1. Rancher says:

    What I like about Abp Burke (among other things) is that he is not tainted by the political affiliation that so many Bishops seem to be. There may have been a time when one of the two major politcal parties closely reflected Catholic teaching in its philosophy and platform. That is simply no longer the case. Bishops who are locked into only “peace and justice” issues and the fluffy “can’t we all just get along” idealism are narrow minded. Moral and political positions need to be rooted in the basics and there is nothing more basic than protecting God-created human life in the womb.

    Those who argue that pro-life Catholics must be Republican are making a huge assumption of facts not in evidence. Respect for life has nothing to do with any politcal party. It is much more basic than that. I would fight any political pary, Democrat, Republican, Green whatever that failed to support life in the womb. That may mean, in the future, not affiliating with any of the current political parties but voting as an independant based upon issues.

  2. teresa says:

    Not knowing the situation in the U.S. well, I hope I get your message correctly, dear Father Z.

    I think you try to make clear that a Catholic Institution shouldn’t act out of political motives, but only out of moral motives. It is also required by the principle of the separation of Church and state, which is fundamental for any democratic society, and as the CIC says, the clergy shouldn’t be involved in politics by taking over political positions. And out of the same reason a catholic educational institute shouldn’t back its decision with explanations in a way that this decision is politically seen prudent.

    But it is an open offense against the catholic moral teaching, if a catholic University give honor to someone who acts openly against the moral of the Church. So it couldn’t be done, even if the honoring of President Obama would be useful for the fore said University.

  3. TJM says:

    Archbishop Burke is brilliant, yet plainspeaking. You know his position after he is through speaking. Tom

  4. JD, Esq. says:

    The good Archbishop’s words are excellent food for thought. They should prick the conscience.

    There is one issue that should be addressed, namely, that when bishops say (or strongly imply) you cannot vote for Obama (or, more generally, Democrats — yes, I know there are GOP baddies, too), the implication for most people is that you then have to vote Republican.

    I am very sympathetic to those who feel brow-beaten into voting for what has become a fiscally irresponsible, vision-less, war-mongering, torture support group.

    The bishops need to tell people that voting third party or not voting at all is an acceptable option. The bishops have some absurd language in Faithful Citizenship about the almighty importance of voting that sends an unclear message. Sometimes not voting sends a powerful message.

    Otherwise, people understandably get the message that some bishops are Republican hacks, and the Obama Notre Dame flap just underscores that point.

    I am happy that bishops are saying you can’t in good conscience vote for Obama, but they need to be clearer about the parameters of acceptable voting. If some are trying to steer voters toward the GOP, that is a real problem, especially because the GOP has been proven to be an ineffectual option, and, at the end of the day, the mythical fifth vote on the Supreme Court is a gamble at best. Even if Roe is overturned, if someone wants an abortion, they can fly to Minnesota or wherever its legal and get one. Only a constitutional amendment can end legal abortion. And we are not even close on that front.

  5. David Osterloh says:

    Rah, Rah, sis boom bah, goooooo Burke. Love that speech, clear and direct, no shades of gray for the devil to hid in.

  6. irishgirl says:

    Yay for Archbishop Burke-tells it clear and straight, and makes no bones about it!

    Please Holy Father, give him a red hat at your next consistory!

  7. Richard says:

    “a Catholic who knew his agenda … could not have voted for him with a clear conscience”

    But what if your parish priest said that it was OK? Or you had read articles by Catholic priests saying that you had to look at the wider issues?

    I’m not disagreeing with Archbishop Burke, but by criticising Catholic voters he is ignoring a HUGE issue of poor catachetics and even false shepherds.

  8. Ken says:

    While this is good, the problem is that it’s all talk with no action. Why didn’t Burke take on Archbishop Wuerl of Washington, D.C.? Wuerl has created a Green Zone for every pro-abortion, pro-sodomy politician and government official to do whatever the heck he wants. (Visit Holy Trinity, the Jesuit parish in Georgetown, to see Joe Biden on down. A who’s who of pro-abortion Catholic America.)

    Bishops have been telling dissidents to not receive communion. Great. Yet, the banned liberals simply waltz into Wuerl’s Green Zone and no one does anything. (Same with Loverde in Arlington, Va. across the river — visit Queen of Peace in Arlington to see the same show.)

    Words are good. Action is better.

  9. tertullian says:

    Richard

    Don’t stop there. What does Archbp. Burke say about Cardinals and other Archbishops who voted for and support the Obama agenda?

  10. LCB says:

    Being trapped with a journalist four hours on a plane between the States and Rome?

    Wow, what did the good Abp. ever do to deserve such punishment? We don’t even subject terrorists to such inhumane practices.

    Poor guy.

  11. Phil Eckert says:

    On May 4, 2009, I sent the following letter to 270 American bishops which included my bishop:

    Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec:

    Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, has invited Barack Obama to speak at this great university and intends to grant him an honorary law degree despite the fact that this act flies in the face of the U.S. bishops’ 2004 directive against it. Why is Father John Jenkins disobedient to the American bishops?

    Because the American bishops are disobedient to the Holy Father and the Church!

    I pray with others outside an abortion mill in Buffalo, New York. Our area, according to a census taken in 2000, is 57% Catholic. Each week large numbers of women enter this killing chamber to have their babies killed. Undoubtably, many of these women are Catholic! Why do Catholic women (and men) place such a small value on unborn life? The answer rests mainly with you bishops and our priests. I do not excuse our lay people from guilt, but YOU have accepted the role of shepherd, of leader of God’s flock. The fact that most of our bishops, except for a courageous small number, will allow pro-abortion politicians to receive Holy Communion indicates that you don’t really believe that abortion is murder! I have heard every excuse from different bishops as to why they will not deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, but every one of these excuses boils down to one thing: The bishops who make these excuses are disobeying canon 915 and disobeying Cardinal Ratzinger, our present pontiff. Canon 915 reads as follows: Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

    One doesn’t have to be a canon lawyer to understand that statement! Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent a memorandum to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick intended to give guidance on this issue for the US bishops’ June 15, 2004 deliberations. The title of the document, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles, was made public in July 2004. Paragraph no. 4 and no. 5 stated:

    “4. Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).”

    “5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.” [My emphasis]

    Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, wrote a most logical article in Periodica De re Canonica, published by the Pontifical Gregorian University, vol. 96 (2007) pp. 3-58. In section 11, he wrote: “The long-standing discipline of the Church requires that the minister of Holy Communion exercise discretion regarding the distribution of Holy Communion to those who persist in manifest and grievous sin. The exercise of such discretion is not a judgment on the subjective state of the soul of the person approaching to receive Holy Communion, but a judgment regarding the objective condition of serious sin in a person who, after due admonition from his pastor, persists in cooperating formally with intrinsically evil acts like procured abortion.”

    In concluding this brilliant treatise, Archbishop Burke wrote: “Fifthly, the discipline requires the minister of Holy Communion to forbid the Sacrament to those who are publicly unworthy. Such action must not be precipitous. The person who sins gravely and publicly must, first, be cautioned not to approach to receive Holy Communion. The memorandum, ‘Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion’, of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in its fifth principle, gives the perennial pastoral instruction in the matter. This, in fact, is done effectively in a pastoral conversation with the person, so that the person knows that he is not to approach to receive Holy Communion and, therefore, the distribution of Holy Communion does not become an occasion of conflict. It must also be recalled that no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.90 ”

    Would not every bishop deny Holy Communion to a person who had just murdered a baby in church before his very eyes? Would he not even deny the Eucharist to a person who had “only” raped a child before his very eyes? Do you think the bishop would say: Oh, I don’t want to be the perpetrator’s judge, or I don’t want to politicize the Eucharist or I don’t want a confrontation at the sanctuary? Did Jesus Christ act in a cowardly manner when it came time to take a stand? The reason you don’t deny communion to these political murderers, and yes they are as guilty as the ones who plunge the knives into the tens of millions of unborn children, is that you don’t believe abortion is murder!

    Fr. John Jenkins, by inviting this most radical murderer , Barack Obama, to Notre Dame shows that he would have no objection to inviting Hitler to Notre Dame and giving him the same honors if it was politically correct to do so!

    Yours in Christ,

  12. ED says:

    Archbishop Burke understands that first comes GOD, then FAMILY, and finally COUNTRY…..that is natural law summed up what priority we listen to.

  13. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura is among the most dedicated and capable Churchmen currently serving.

    His legal intelligence is second to none, and he is one of the few living pastors with both the capability and the willingness to teach; the effectiveness of his teaching owes itself to, or may be explained as his ability to explain and inspire at the same time.

    Nevertheless, the archbishop’s expressions, as reported in the pages of the National Review, contain an imprecise forumlation of the pertinent principle of moral science.

    The imprecise statement is:

    “If a Catholic knowingly and deliberately votes for a person who is in favor of the most grievous violations of the natural moral law, then he has formally cooperated in a grave evil and must confess his serious sin.”

    The imprecision is in the Archbishop’s discussion of the conditions for formal cooperation in an act. Formal cooperation requires that there be assent to the end, the purpose of the act with which one cooperates.

    Perhaps this is what the Archbishop means by “deliberately”, but deliberation is not, in the language of moral science, the same as willing(ness).

    I might knowingly and deliberately tie up a fellow hostage while the house robber holds us both at gunpoint, without assenting implicitly or otherwise to the act of robbery. I would yet be but a material cooperator.

    Again, I strongly believe the Archbishop, in saying, “deliberately,” meant, “…because of candidate x’s immoral policies.” It is highly unlikely that Archbishop Burke would have been so imprecise, had he been responding in writing. It is merely a slip of the tongue.

    The problem is that the Archbishop’s statements are already being used to Monday morning quarterback peoples’ consciences, and I am sure that, whatever the Archbishop desired to accomplish in his remarks, he did not intend his observations to be an armchair condemnation of millions of fellow citizens and co-religionists.

    He is, quite simply, “not that guy.”

    Best,
    C.

  14. Girgadis says:

    JD esq

    They can imply all they want – I did not feel I had an option in the last election
    except to sit it out. A viewer asked Father Frank Pavone if it was acceptable to vote
    for third party candidates if they are pro-life and his answer was only so long
    as it’s not a close election and your vote could have helped the more pro-life
    of the two major party candidates. Really??? I’d like nothing better than to see both
    major parties self-destruct so that voters like me, who do not support torture and
    needless wars any more than I do abortion and gay marriage, would have an option at election
    time. In the meantime, my conscience is crystal clear.

  15. JD, Esq. says:

    Girgadis,

    You make my point. Your conscience should be clear. Fr. Pavone is wrong. And the bishops do Catholics no service when they do not support voters like you (and me), who would not vote for McCain. Scott Richert has had some excellent commentaries in the Wanderer on just this issue.

    Unfortunately, some bishops are needlessly giving the NCReporter (see Fr. Z post above) unnecessary ammunition.

    God bless you.

  16. Brendan says:

    Great, but how exactly do we go and tell those that voted for Obama that they committed a sin by doing so? I know pretty soon, I wouldn’t have many friends.

  17. wsxyz says:

    Teresa, I am curious. Would you say that a democratic society is a positively good thing? If so, why?

  18. teresa says:

    wsxyz: “Would you say that a democratic society is a positively good thing? If so, why?”

    I think that it is only a good thing if it does enables its citizens to live in freedom and peace.

  19. jarhead462 says:

    Are we still singing the “torture” routine? Pish-tosh.

    Semper Fi!

  20. Latekate says:

    I don’t think you’re getting the point, Father Z. Morality no longer exists independent of politics. Politicians now decide what is moral and what is not in the “secular” world, traditional religion is definitely second tier lesser authority. Therefore, objecting to the majority elected (if you accept the integrity of the election process) head politicians proclamations on what you consider a moral issue is playing politics.

  21. Michael J says:

    Girgadis and JD,

    You both seemed to fail to mention proportionality which would go a long way, although perhaps not completely, to resolving your voter dilemma

  22. P.S. I greatly admire Archbishop Chaput, who is outspoken on the abortion issue, but is also not afraid to alienate the Republican party in his condemnation of the Iraq war and the last administration’s torture of captives. We can be certain that his opposition to Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame is not to any extent political.

  23. shadrach says:

    Girgadis and JD, Agreed. The Faith, the incarnate Word, is the sign that will always be contradicted by the short term aims of politics, right and left and their respective secular myths of coherence. We know the truth. More fundamentally, democracy has not got it within itself as a system to advance the City of God any more than any other system of carving up political power. I agree with Mulligan’s admiration of Chaput’s take on Obama. Talk about ‘speaking the Truth to power’.

  24. JD, Esq. says:

    Michael J.

    Thanks for your comment.

    The proportionality question question asks whether there is a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion politician over an ostensibly pro-life one. There was no proportionate reason to vote for Obama. Agreed.

    I think Catholics in good conscience could have voted for McCain. I made the prudential judgment not to, and voted for a pro-life third party candidate. Not voting would have suited me fine.

    Had there been no pro-life candidate, I would have had to choose between the pro-choice Ralph Nader or not voting. I think Nader would have enough proportionate justification to vote for him over McCain.

    The point is really simple. Fr. Pavone and other GOP Catholics are wrong when they suggest Catholics had a moral duty to vote Republican. These voting issues get tricky, and the bishops take a big risk when they don’t apply the proper nuance.

    And, at the end of the day, shadrach is right. Our hope must not be in politics or politicians, and we should be careful to align ourseles too closely with any of them. The pro-life (political) cause may be in permanent peril because of its association with the GOP. Our hope is in the Lord.

  25. Geremia says:

    Veritas est claritas. Bravi Abp. Burke! Deo gratias!

  26. Brian says:

    Chris Altieri,

    The article reports Archbishop Burke as saying, “Since President Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience . . . a Catholic who knew Obama’s ‘clearly announced’ agenda on life issues and marriage could not have voted for him ‘in clear conscience.’. . . If a Catholic ‘knowingly and deliberately’ votes for a person who is in favor of ‘the most grievous violations of the natural moral law,’ then he has ‘formally cooperated in a grave evil’ and must confess his serious sin.”

    You wrote, “the archbishop’s expressions, as reported in the pages of the National Review, contain an imprecise forumlation of the pertinent principle of moral science . . . The imprecision is in the Archbishop’s discussion of the conditions for formal cooperation in an act. Formal cooperation requires that there be assent to the end, the purpose of the act with which one cooperates.”

    Whether an act constitutes formal or material cooperation depends, of course, on what act the person is cooperating in. Someone who voted for Obama is engaging in remote material cooperation in abortion itself, more proximal cooperation in keeping abortion legal, more immediate cooperation in Obama’s ability to influence public policy, and formal cooperation of electing a man to office who is “in favor of ‘the most grievous violations of the natural moral law.”

    The act of electing such a man to the Presidency is itself a sinful act and everyone who voted for him, knowing his positions, clearly assented to the end of electing him to the Presidency and thereby formally cooperated in that grievously sinful act.

    The Archbishop is being very precise.

  27. Liam says:

    Brian

    You are being conclusory and Chris is correct, though I wonder if the fault is with Ms Lopez’s rendering of what Abp Burke said to her (it’s not unheard of, and she is not really a reporter but an commentator, so she might easily have compressed or misunderstood).

  28. Dear Brian,

    You say: *Whether an act constitutes formal or material cooperation depends, of course, on what act the person is cooperating in.*

    You are wrong.

    Formal cooperation is so called because of the assent of the will of the actor to the form of the act, i.e. to the object and to the end for which it the act is committed, or in view of some ulterior purpose for which the act in question is a necessary or desirable medium.

    Best,

    Chris

  29. Brian says:

    Chris,
    Of course formal cooperation is so called because of the assent of the will. I don’t think that I stated my point plainly enough. Please allow me to slightly reword one sentence in my post:

    Whether an act constitutes formal or material cooperation depends, of course, on what act the person is cooperating in. Someone who voted for Obama is engaging in remote material cooperation in (the act of) abortion itself, more proximal cooperation in (the act of) keeping abortion legal, more immediate cooperation in (the act of providing) Obama’s (with the) ability to influence public policy, and formal cooperation of (the act of) electing a man to office who is “in favor of ‘the most grievous violations of the natural moral law.”

    Clearly those who voted for Obama assented to the act of electing of Obama, they formally cooperated in his election. Given that Obama is “in favor of ‘the most grievous violations of the natural moral law,” electing Obama was sinful. Therefore, those who voted for him and was aware that Obama was “”in favor of ‘the most grievous violations of the natural moral law,” formally cooperated in a grievously sinful act.

    The Archbishop is being precise and is not mistaken.
    Brian

  30. Dear Brian

    I believe I understand your point now. Many thanks for the clarification. I still think you are misapplying the principle, though. In order to show you why, I need to restate your case in the terms of a rigorous analytical argument, and then re-translate, as it were – I do not want to leave anyone out of the conversation.

    Please be patient.

    Best,
    C.