ROME — Catholic politicians who publicly promote the practice of abortion on demand may not receive Holy Communion, Cardinal Raymond Burke declared this week.
A Catholic “who publicly and obstinately opposes the truth regarding faith and morals may not present himself or herself to receive Holy Communion and neither may the minister of Holy Communion give him or her the Sacrament,” said Cardinal Burke in extended statement posted on April 7.
For many years, Burke — a canon lawyer and the former head of the Vatican’s highest court — has insisted Canon Law forbids politicians who defend and promote abortion from receiving Communion, but this teaching takes on special relevance in the case of President Joe Biden, a Catholic who actively supports abortion on demand.
The cardinal said many have asked him how Catholic politicians and civil officials who publicly and obstinately defend and promote the practice of abortion on demand can approach to receive Holy Communion.
The answer, he says, is simple: they should not do so and if they do, the minister of Holy Communion should refuse to give it to them.
“The reception of Holy Communion by those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in its most fundamental precepts is a particularly grave form of sacrilege,” Burke asserts, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“It not only merits eternal punishment for the one who receives unworthily but constitutes a most serious scandal for others,” he adds, in that “it leads them into the false belief that one can publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in a grave matter and still receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.”
“The denial of Holy Communion is not an ecclesiastical penalty but the recognition of the objectively unworthy state of a person to approach to receive Holy Communion,” he notes.
The cardinal states that priests and bishops have the duty to instruct and admonish the faithful who are such a condition and if a person has been admonished and still perseveres in grave public sin, “he or she may not be admitted to receive Holy Communion.”
Citing Pope Saint John Paul II, Burke asserts that “direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”
Burke dismisses the idea that a politician can be “personally opposed” to the grave evil of abortion while publicly defending and promoting it.
Denying Holy Communion to politicians who obstinately persevere in grave sin is not a politicization of Holy Communion, Burke insists, but forms part of “the Church’s solemn responsibility to safeguard the holiness of the Holy Eucharist, to prevent the faithful from committing sacrilege, and to prevent scandal among the faithful and other persons of good will.”
With an apparent nod toward President Biden, the cardinal warns of a Catholic politician who “presents himself or herself as a devout Catholic, while the truth is completely otherwise.”
Along with the denial of Holy Communion, those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law “are, at least, in a state of apostasy, that is, they have effectively abandoned the faith by the obstinate refusal, in practice, to live in accord with fundamental truths of faith and morals,” Burke states. “An apostate from the faith incurs automatically the penalty of excommunication.”
“The Bishop of such a person must verify the conditions for the declaration of the penalty of excommunication, which has been automatically incurred,” he adds.
“In conclusion, Church discipline, beginning with the Apostle Paul, has consistently taught the necessary disposition of conscience for the reception of Holy Communion,” Burke writes, and thus a pro-abortion Catholic politician “may not present himself or herself to receive Holy Communion and neither may the minister of Holy Communion give him or her the Sacrament.”