On his web page, Cardinal Raymond Burke posted a long statement this week regarding abortion, Canon 915 and the urgent need for the bishops of the United States to take up the issue during their meeting in November. He recounts several personal experiences with bishops and elected officials.
I have thought it important to offer the following reflections as a help to us all in addressing now and in the future such a critical matter – a matter of life and death for the unborn and of eternal salvation for the Catholic politicians involved – in my homeland, as in other nations. I had wanted to offer these reflections much sooner, but recovery from recent health difficulties prevented the writing of these reflections until now…
…From the time of my first episcopal ministry in the Diocese of La Crosse, I had confronted the situation of politicians presenting themselves as practicing Catholics and, at the same time, supporting and advancing programs, policies and laws in violation of the moral law. As a new and relatively young Bishop, I spoke with brother Bishops, especially one of the senior suffragans in my ecclesiastical province, about several Catholic lawmakers in the Diocese of La Crosse, who were in this situation. The common response of brother Bishops was the expectation that the Conference of Bishops would eventually address the question.
Knowing my moral obligation in a matter of such serious consequences, defined in can. 915, I began to contact the legislators from the Diocese of La Crosse, asking to meet with them to discuss the complete incoherence of their position regarding procured abortion with the Catholic faith they professed. Sadly, none of them was willing to meet with me. One carried out a certain correspondence with me, insisting that his position regarding abortion was consistent with the Catholic faith, following the erroneous counsel presented by certain dissident professors of moral theology, adherents of the heretical school of proportionalism, at a summit held at the Hyannisport compound of the Kennedy Family in the summer of 1964. Documentation of the meeting is found in a book of Albert R. Jonsen who accompanied one of the dissident European professors of moral theology and was present for the entire meeting.
Regarding the refusal of the legislators to meet with me, I must observe that I find, at best, naïve the common refrain that what is needed is more dialogue with the Catholic politicians and legislators in question. In my experience, they are not willing to discuss the matter because the teaching of the natural law, which necessarily is also the teaching of the Church, is beyond discussion. In some cases, too, I have had the strong impression that they were unwilling to discuss the matter because they were simply unwilling to have their minds and hearts changed. The truth remains that procured abortion is the knowing and willing destruction of a human life.
“[This is] a matter of life and death for the unborn and of eternal salvation for the Catholic politicians involved – in my homeland, as in other nations.”
…In the Spring of 2004, while I was in Washington, D.C., for pro-life activities, I met privately for forty-five minutes with one of the highest-placed officials in the federal government, a non-Catholic Christian who manifested great respect for the Catholic Church. In the course of our conversation, he asked me whether, in view of the serious health difficulties of Pope Saint John Paul II, the election of a new Pope could mean a change in the Church’s teaching regarding procured abortion. I expressed some surprise at his question, explaining that the Church can never change its teaching on the intrinsic evil of procured abortion because it is a precept of the natural law, the law written by God on every human heart. He responded that he asked the question because he had concluded that the Church’s teaching in the matter could not be that firm, since he could name for me 80 or more Catholics in the Senate and House of Representatives, who regularly support pro-abortion legislation.
The conversation in question was an eloquent testimonial to the grave scandal caused by such Catholic politicians. They have, in fact, contributed in a significant way to the consolidation of a culture of death in the United States, in which procured abortion is simply a fact of daily life. The Catholic Church’s witness to the beauty and goodness of human life, from its first moment of existence, and the truth of its inviolability has been grievously compromised to the point that non-Catholics believe that the Church has changed or will change what is, in fact, an unchangeable teaching. While the Church, carrying out the mission of Christ, her Head, for the salvation of the world is totally opposed to the attack on innocent and defenseless human life, the Catholic Church in the United States seems to accept the abhorrent practice, in accord with a totally secularized view of human life and sexuality.
I invite you to pray with me for the Church in the United States of America and in every nation, that, faithful to the mission of Christ, her Bridegroom, she will be faithful, limpid and uncompromising in the application of can. 915, defending the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, safeguarding the souls of Catholic politicians who would grievously violate the moral law and still present themselves to receive Holy Communion, thereby committing sacrilege, and preventing the most serious scandal caused by the failure to observe the norm of can. 915.
May God bless you and your homes. Please pray for me and especially for the recovery of my health.