21 September 2009

Charity, and Moral Clarity

Whenever Archbishop Burke speaks, you get the measure of the man. Even his enemies must concede that his positions are in no way ambiguous. This article by Deal Hudson at InsideCatholic.com covers His Grace's position on public funeral rites for notorious public sinners:

Charity, Civility, and Speaking the Truth
by Deal W. Hudson

The funeral of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy provoked a highly charged debate among Catholics about civility. In the midst of this discussion, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, came to Washington, D.C., to be honored by InsideCatholic.com at its 14th Annual Partnership Dinner at the historic Mayflower Hotel.

Addressing more than 200 guests, Archbishop Burke said, "We must speak the truth in charity," but also, "We should have the courage to look truth in the eye and call things by their common names." The tension between these two admonitions is evident in his own heroic defense of the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life and his personal humility.

Frank Hanna, a Catholic businessman and philanthropist from Atlanta, noted this in his introduction of the honoree. Before ever meeting Archbishop Burke, Hanna said he thought of him as a lion, whose roar "would send chills of admiration" down his spine. But, when he finally met the man one day in Birmingham, he noted:

I was struck by his simple humility. He greeted me with kindness and warmth. And I thought to myself, that's how lions are -- no waving about, just quiet humble strength. There is a reason C. S. Lewis made Aslan, the lion, his hero.

Indeed, it is hard not to be struck by the gentle demeanor of the bishop who caused such a ruckus in the 2004 election by saying he would deny communion to presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. Since then, he has remained one of the most outspoken American bishops on the subject of the defense of life and marriage.

Friday evening in Washington was no different. Throughout his 50-minute address, the archbishop returned again and again to the scandal of Catholic politicians who support abortion or same-sex marriage. He did not mince his words: "It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner."

"Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians," said Archbishop Burke. "To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects."

With obvious reference to the Kennedy funeral, he argued that when a politician is associated "with greatly sinful acts about fundamental questions like abortion and marriage, his repentance must also be public." He added, "Anyone who grasps the gravity of what he has done will understand the need to make it public."

It's not uncharitable to point out the scandal caused by these Catholic politicians. "The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth in love. This does not destroy unity but helps to repair a breach in the life of the Church."

Archbishop Burke rejects all the standard arguments made by Catholic politicians and their apologists who support abortion and same-sex marriage. For example, the defense of the unborn and traditional marriage is not strictly a matter of religious faith. "The observance of the natural law is not a confessional practice -- it's inscribed in every human heart."

Archbishop Burke describes the latest tactic of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, who talk about finding common ground, as a form of "proportionalist moral reasoning." "Common ground is found rather on 'the ground of moral goodness,' and not in a compromise of certain moral truths, like the rejection of abortion and euthanasia."

He warned against allowing this kind of false reasoning to enter the health-care debate. A Catholic cannot accept the attainment of universal health care if it includes abortion and other evils "just because it achieves some desirable outcomes."

In this form of reasoning, the archbishop hears an echo of the type of "seamless garment" argument that conceals a distinction between intrinsically evil acts and those that may be evil in some situations; these acts "are not all of the same cloth."

The standing ovation for Archbishop Burke lasted several minutes before Raymond Arroyo, the master of ceremonies and news director of EWTN, returned to the podium. Once again, as Hanna put it in his introduction, Archbishop Burke had "stood up for the Church and her teachings, in the face of violent world criticism and even some within the Church."

As InsideCatholic.com editor Brian Saint-Paul handed Archbishop Burke the award for "Service to the Church and our Nation," I commented that, "This lion speaks with the voice and face of a lamb, and, thus, is an example of how to speak the truth in charity."


Father G said...

God bless His Grace and long life to him...

Anonymous said...

God bless the Great former Archbishop of St. Louis!

Anonymous said...

Serious question - I'm not trying to make a point here:

Would Archbishop Burke deny Communion to the five Catholic Supreme Court Justices, who are more than anyone else in the country those most likely to overturn Roe v Wade? (And it was this same &#@$% SCOTUS who unleashed Roe v Wade on us in the first place!)

Anonymous said...

Anon 14:34:

My guess would be that Archbishop Buke would deny communion to those Justices that have supported Roe v. Wade, which, if memory serves is Kennedy (by voting in the 1992 Casey case), and perhaps Sotomayor (although I will admit that I did not follow her confirmation process very closely - in her favor, in her only opportunity to rule on anything remotely close to abortion, she actually upheld the Mexico City policy).

You realize, don't you, that although it's the same court, it's not the same justices, right? I believe that it is true that Roberts, Alito, and Scalia have never voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, and have, in fact, at appropriate junctures, voted to limit its scope.

Anonymous said...

Did some research, and here is what I've come up with. So far, it seems that the Catholic Supreme Court Justices have held their own against Roe v Wade. Too bad we can't say the same for Republicans:

There were 9 Justices on the SCOTUS when Roe v Wade was written. Here they are along with who appointed them:

1) Harry Blackmun, Roe v Wade's author, by Richard Nixon (R.)
2) Catholic William Brennan, by Dwight D Eisenhower (R).
3) William O Douglas, by Franklin D Roosevelt (D.)
4) Lewis F. Powell, by Richard Nixon (R.)
5) Potter Stewart, by Dwight D Eisenhower (R).
6) Warren Earl Burger, by Richard Nixon (R.)
7) Thurgood Marshal, by John F Kennedy (D.)
8) William Rehnquist, by Richard Nixon (R.)
9) Byron White, by the Catholic John F Kennedy (D), (who dissented against Roe v Wade!)

Note that 6 of the 9 court members on the Roe v Wade court were appointed by Republicans, and the Catholic Democrat appointed by JFK dissented against it, as Catholics should.

Here are the twelve last SCOTUS appointments since our DDay of January 22, 1973:

• Retired Sandra Day O'Connor by Ronald Reagan (R.)
• Retired David Souter by George Bush (41)(R.)
• Catholic Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. by President George W. Bush (R.)
• John Paul Stevens by President Ford (R.)
• Catholic Antonin Scalia by President Reagan (R.)
• Catholic Anthony Kennedy by President Reagan (R.)
• David Souter by George HW Bush (41) (R.)
• Catholic Clarence Thomas by George HW Bush (41) (R.)
• Ruth Bader Ginsburg by William Clinton (D.)
• Stephen Breyer by William Clinton (D.)
• Catholic Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. by George "W" Bush (R.)
• Sonia Sotomayor, Catholic by Barrack Obama (D.)

Thus, of the last 12 new SCOTUS members, 9 have been appointed by Republicans, and only 3 by Democrats.

In total, then, of all the 21 Supreme Court Justices who have served on the court during and since Roe v Wade: 15 have been appointed by Republicans, and only 6 by Democrats. That’s a whopping 71%! Sadly, a simple majority is all that is needed to overturn this.

It reminds me that our fight isn't at all along just political lines - but a larger front is needed. It also reminds me that when push comes to shove, the Republicans continue to fail us immensely, yet will pull out their "vote-for-me-because-I'll-make-a-difference" every election cycle. I'm a cynic here, I know, but after the total Republican domination of all three branches of the govt, without result, why should we really expect change here?

thetimman said...

Sorry, anon, but your analysis is based on a complete non sequitur. It doesn't matter how many justices were appointed over the years by any party-- it matters how many at any one time. Also, you seem to mix the Republican and the Catholic labels, as some would accuse me of doing.

It comes up to this-- there has never been a majority of five justices to overturn Roe. Rehnquist and White were dissenters in the original decision-- one appointed by a Rep. one by a Dem.

Catholics have been on the opposite sides of the issue in the S. Ct. So, what do we have?

Right now, while certainly a little speculative, it seems a safe bet that there are four justices who would overturn Roe-- Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia. ALL are Catholic, and ALL were appointed by Republicans.

There are four safe votes to uphold or expand Roe-- Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Stevens-- one is Catholic in name, three were appointed by Dems, and one by Ford, who I guess was Republican in some sense of the word.

That leaves Kennedy-- a Catholic, appointed by a Republican. He is not likely to overturn Roe, but I can't say he is a sure vote either way. If I bet money, I would bet he upholds.

So, to the original question posed-- would Burke be in favor of the sacraments for the four Catholic Justices who WOULD vote to OVERTURN Roe-- then I guess the answer is yes. For Kennedy, if he is on record as supporting Roe, the answer is no.

Justices can fool a president who appoints them, and it has happened historically to both parties. In this respect, Souter is a complete joke and Kennedy and O'Connor were disappointing. Yet, as long as you brought the subject up, it is noteworthy that the four justices who would end the massacre of little babies were in fact appointed by Republicans, and none of the Democratic appointees would. Aside from understandable disappointment in the mixed bag results of Republican appointees, can we at least unite in condemning the UNIVERSAL negative record on abortion from EVERY democratic appointee since the Roe v. Wade decision. In other words, can you acknowledge that voting Republican may not get you all pro-life justices, but that voting Democratic WILL get you a pro-abortion one?

Anonymous said...

Also, Anon, I don't think that Clarence Thomas is Catholic. I wish that we could claim his jurisprudence, but he is Episcopalian, if memory serves.

I think that it is also important to note that the parties have solidified since the 80s. It is notable that Bush II's appointments appear to be staunchly pro-life. His father was never considered all that reliable a pro-life supporter, and his Supreme Court nominees bore that out.

Timman, I agree with your post, but I am hopeful that Sotomayor will prove to be the Democrats' Earl Warren in the sense of betraying the appointing President's expectations.

Also, to further criticize anon's post, Brennan and Blackmun were both appointed long efore Roe, and before abortion had entered the national consciousness as an issue. So to criticize today's Republican Party for the appointment of Brennan and Blackmun is horribly disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Absotely "NO!"

First, we don't know about Sotomayor yet, as pointed out by Anon at 9:41. She was appointed by Obama, and yet she upheld the Mexico City Policy. Think it is WAY TOO EARLY to judge her as harshly as you did. It is also possible that Sotomayor's appointment was an olive branch Obama extended to us angry Catholics. Judging by her Mexico Policy stance, I am hopeful, (and prayerfully so,) that in the end she is on our side.

In the entire US history, there used to be a token Catholic on most every Supreme Court. Recently more have been added, but who would have thought that OBAMA would have appointed another Catholic to it, tipping the scale so that 5 of the 9 Justices are Catholic!?! (Maybe God does work in strange ways.)

It is a fact that Democrat JFK appointed Byron White who dissented against Roe v Wade.
Thus ...
It is TOTALLY a lie that "that voting Democratic WILL get you a pro-abortion one." Byron White would come out of his grave if you said this to him, and Sotomayor might be coming after you as well when all is said and done.

Also, since 1972, there NEVER has been a majority of Democratically appointed Justices. Republicans have held the majority for every single one of the past 37 years.

So, nice try, and turning your words around, 'Can you at least acknowledge that voting Republican will ALWAYS lead to disappointment here?' That's my take on it.

Don't know about you, but for me, I've been continually disappointed for the past 37 years, which is when I first started protesting at abortion clinics. And why am I the only one on this site mad at the Republicans about this???

Watching the Republicans is like watching Charlie Brown's Halloween special, where we keep being promised that by voting straight Republican ticket, 'the Great Pumpkin' will come back next year and abortions will end. Well, after 37 years, I am very cynical about this. Your mantra, in the face of facts, remains Charlie Brown's line to Linus "Just wait. You'll see. Just wait until next year!"

Well "Next year" happened several years ago when Republicans held control of all branches of our government, but that's when the real values came out: Tax cuts for the uber-rich, an unjust invasion of oil rich Iraq, massive defense spending, but ... Roe v Wade remains. It's a huge tragedy, and all you have to offer is anger at Democrats??? Please.

Your conclusions are wrong, and your anger seems highly misplaced here.

thetimman said...

I have to laugh when disagreement with someone means I am "angry".

My one and only message is "anger at Democrats?"

Yours seems to be to rationalize every action taken by that selfsame party of death.

Perhaps we're both mistaken.

Tea Sipper said...


The Dems have a litmus test for abortion and if you are naive enough to think they ever would have voted for the extremely liberal Sotomayor who has had many of her radical decisions reversed by higher courts if she were pro-life, you are mistaken.

Sotomayor will vote pro-abortion, because that is the will of the people who put her there and she, like other Democrats are controlled by a puppet master and he doesn't live up in the clouds. His favorite drink, I heard is red Kool-aid, just like his followers. I always hated Kool-aid.