ROME, January 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Archbishop Raymond Burke, in an exclusive interview last week, told LifeSiteNews.com that the issue of pro-abortion politicians continuing to receive Holy Communion is still one of major concern and that it is the duty of bishops to ensure that they are refused.
He told LifeSiteNews.com, "I don't understand the continual debate that goes on about it. There's not a question that a Catholic who publicly, and after admonition, supports pro-abortion legislation is not to receive Holy Communion and is not to be given Holy Communion."
"The Church's law is very clear," said Archbishop Burke, who was appointed last year by Pope Benedict XVI as the head of the Church's highest court, the Apostolic Signatura. "The person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion, and it [Canon Law] doesn't say that the bishop shall decide this. It's an absolute."
Among the US bishops directly to address the issue, Archbishop Burke was one of around a dozen who vigorously supported a directive of the Vatican that said pro-abortion Catholic politicians "must be refused" Holy Communion if they attempt to receive at Mass. Others have refused to abide by the Vatican instruction and the Church's own Code of Canon Law, saying they would rather focus on "education" of such politicians.
Archbishop Burke recalled previous experiences with [former presidential candidate Sen. John] Kerry, pointing to the several occasions when the senator was pictured in Time magazine receiving Communion from Papal representatives at various public events. Burke said that it is clear that Kerry was using his reception of Holy Communion to send a message.
"He wants to not only receive Holy Communion from a bishop but from the papal representative. I think that's what his point was. Get it in Time magazine, so people read it and say to themselves, 'He must be in good standing'."
"What are they doing? They're using the Eucharist as a political tool."
"The Holy Eucharist, the most sacred reality of our life in the Church, has to be protected against sacrilege. At the same time, individuals have to be protected for the sake of their own salvation from committing one of the gravest sins, namely to receive Holy Communion unworthily."
Archbishop Burke also dismissed the commonly proffered excuse that such politicians need more "education". Speaking from his own direct experience, he said that Catholic politicians who are informed by their pastors or bishops that their positions in support of pro-abortion legislation makes it impossible for them to receive Holy Communion, "I've always found that they don't come forward."
When asked what the solution was, he responded, "Individual bishops and priests simply have to do their duty. They have to confront politicians, Catholic politicians, who are sinning gravely and publicly in this regard. And that's their duty.