Just when I start becoming dismayed at all the weakness and navel gazing of the American Catholic Church, Archbishop Raymond Burke stands up and acts like a hero.
Writing in the latest edition of the Canon Law journal, Periodica De Re Canonica, Archbishop Burke has called other bishops to task for their silence on the problem of Catholic politicians who support abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryo research, the homosexual political agenda or other legislation “contrary to the natural moral law.”
Finally, the discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.
I am deeply aware of the difficulty which is involved in applying the discipline of can. 915. I am not surprised by it and do not believe that anyone should be surprised. Surely, the discipline has never been easy to apply. But what is at stake for the Church demands the wisdom and courage of shepherds who will apply it.
That’s the kind of…well heroic quotes we need who will inspire young men to become priests. In this day and age we need Catholic heroes. Archbishop Burke is one.
You pick which quote is more inspiring:
Burke, who said “To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law.”
Or the U.S. Bishops who met in Denver in 2004 and produced this statement: “Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.”
It’s no contest. Cue the touchdown dance. Burke wins it hands down. The U.S. Bishops sound like Neville Chamberlain and Burke sounds like Churchill. One acknowledges absolutes. The other is a snapshot in compromise.
Burke signs off his piece with this statement:
As Pope John Paul II reminded us, referring to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Holy Eucharist contains the entire good of our salvation . There is no responsibility of the Church’s shepherds which is greater than that of teaching the truth about the Holy Eucharist, celebrating worthily the Holy Eucharist, and directing the flock in the worship and care of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law and can. 712 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches articulate an essential element of the shepherds’ responsibility, namely, the perennial discipline of the Church by which the minister of Holy Communion is to deny the Sacrament to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.
Archbishop Burke is a true profile in Christian Courage.