Asks Other U.S. Bishops to Take the Same Public Action

(Jan. 15, 2004) --- Today, the Catholic Media Coalition (CMC), a national group of pro-life Catholic communicators, applauded Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, WI for his courage and leadership in making the clearest statement to date enforcing Church law defending the sanctity and dignity of human life against pro-abortion politicians.

Bishop Burke, who will soon be installed as Bishop of St. Louis, has come under fire for issuing a formal decree barring Catholic politicians who promote abortion and euthanasia from receiving Holy Communion.  The prelate affirmed Catholic doctrine that those "directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human
 life," and are forbidden "to promote such laws or vote for them." The bishop warned that legislators who persist in supporting procured abortion and euthanasia commit a "manifestly grave sin" and "universal Church law provides that such persons 'are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.'" (Code of Canon Law, can. 915)

 "Bishop Burke is a shepherd of souls," said Mary Ann Kreitzer, CMC president.  "His primary concern is the eternal salvation of his people. He obviously didn't make this decision lightly.  He admonished these politicians privately and they refused to listen.  Denying Communion is an
act of charity. Catholic politicians who advocate abortion give serious public scandal, a deadly sin.  To receive Holy Communion in that state is a mortal sin of sacrilege.  They also confuse others who may think that one can support killing unborn children and still be a faithful Catholic. Bishop Burke's decree makes crystal clear the Catholic doctrine that killing the innocent, whether an unborn child or someone sick and helpless like Terri Schiavo, is a grave moral evil," said Kreitzer. "We hope his action will make pro-abortion Catholic politicians examine their consciences and repent of actions that are not only contrary to Christ's teachings, but undermine
the fabric of the family and society at large."

CMC denounced attempts by pro-abortion supporters to suggest that a Catholic bishop has no right to proclaim Catholic teachings to his flock, some of whom may hold public office.  "Bishop Burke has an obligation to inform Catholics, including Catholic politicians, about activities that are mortal sins under Catholic doctrine and a threat to their salvation," Kreitzer emphasized."  To accuse him of violating 'separation of church and state' displays an appalling ignorance of the constitution or is simply a desperate attempt at spin control."

CMC called upon all United States bishops to follow Bishop Burke's example. "If others imitate Bishop Burke's action," Kreitzer stated, "once and for all abortion and euthanasia will be known for the mortal sins and destroyers of the family that they are.  The Catholic faith requires fraternal correction be given to those in error and to stop those errors from being
spread. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Bishop Burke."

How pronounced is this public scandal?  According to the American Life League (a national pro-life organization), over 500 state and federal officeholders who claim to be Catholic have made public pronouncements on abortion that are contrary to Church teachings.


For Immediate Release
Contact:  Mary Ann Kreitzer
(540) 459-9493