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(RNS) The American archbishop who heads the Vatican’s supreme court said Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive the sacraments, including funeral rites, according to a report by a conservative Catholic Web site.
Archbishop Raymond Burke, who led the archdiocese of St. Louis until he was appointed prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, is known as a forceful critic of public figures who support abortion rights and gay marriage.
At a gathering of Catholic conservatives in Washington last Friday (Sept. 18), Burke reiterated that criticism, saying “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,” Burke said, according to InsideCatholic.com, which hosted the event. “To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects.”
Burke’s remarks were reported by Deal Hudson, a former adviser on Catholic outreach for the Republican Party.
Hudson called Burke’s remarks an “obvious reference” to last month’s funeral for Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and Catholic who supported legalized abortion and gay rights. Conservative Catholics said he should not have been given a Catholic funeral.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who presided at Kennedy’s funeral, defended it on his blog at the time, saying it was “appropriate to represent the church at this liturgy out of respect for the senator, his family, those who attended Mass,” and others praying for the Kennedys.
O’Malley also said: “There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the church’s providing a Catholic funeral for the senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position.”
By Daniel Burke
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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