Catholic World Report has an interview with His Grace, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura:
The Chief Justice
Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke on his appointment to the Vatican Supreme Court and the controversies he leaves behind.
Interview by Anita Crane | November 2008
On June 27, Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Raymond Burke to the office of prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Before serving as archbishop of St. Louis, Burke served as bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Now as head of the Vatican's supreme court, he is expected to be elevated to the rank of cardinal.
CWR spoke to him about the appointment and his tenure in St. Louis.
Were you happy about the appointment?
How many judges are on the Signatura?
What kinds of cases does the Apostolic Signatura handle?
Among your many scholarly articles on canon law was the 2007 treatise entitled "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin." Prior to that in 2004, you announced that then-presidential candidate Senator John Kerry would be denied Holy Communion in your archdiocese.
Some say that your statements on canon law regarding denial of the Eucharist to those who are manifestly unworthy "risk politicizing the Eucharist." What do you say to that?
Why do you think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' documents on worthy reception of the Eucharist only place responsibility on the communicant?
It seems like you are saying that if a known abortion cooperator, such as a lawmaker, approaches the Eucharist, but has not been publicly admonished by his bishop, the minister should not deny him Holy Communion.
Burke: I understand your concern. The discipline of the Church, however, provides that a person who is publicly and gravely sinning be admonished not to approach to receive Holy Communion.
Generally, in my experience, once I admonished, for instance, Catholic legislators who were voting in favor of abortion legislation, they did not presume to approach to receive Holy Communion. The discipline does not open a way to give Holy Communion to those in public and grave sin by failing to admonish them. The bishop and his priests have the gravest obligation to admonish them. If not, they will answer before God.
Some people see you as controversial, to put it lightly.
Burke: When the head basketball coach of a Catholic university here was openly espousing a position in favor of a "woman's choice" to have a procured abortion, and other things which are contrary, not only to the Church's teaching, but also to the natural moral law, I protested.
Indeed, you have the reputation of a kind and fatherly pastor. For example, there was the "Coming Out of Sodom" story in Celebrate Life, the amazing testimony by a man who suffered same-sex attraction, surrendered to it, and renounced the faith to you as bishop of La Crosse, but who returned to the Church and sacraments with your help. Now that you are leaving the United States, would you please offer some counsel to American Catholics?
[Archbishop Burke initiated the cause for Father John Hardon's canonization. Hardon was a prolific theologian, teacher, author, Vatican advisor, and spiritual advisor to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Church has declared Father Hardon a “servant of God,” the first of three degrees in the canonization process. While this cause is left to the next bishop of St. Louis, Archbishop Burke spoke of his friend.]
Burke: I worked with [Father Hardon] during the last years of his life, in a number of his apostolates, but principally with the Marian Catechist Apostolate.
Anita Crane is a freelance writer and former senior editor ofCelebrate Life.