Earlier this summer, I posted an article about the appointment of Archbishop Burke to the post of Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. In several recent interviews (see here and here), Burke has begun to strongly articulate the position that the Church has a duty to be responsibly charitable in denying Eucharist to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”

Here are some excerpts from the first of these two articles, an interview with Thomas J. McKenna, president of the San Diego-based group Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the newly appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and former Archbishop of St. Louis, recently discussed in an interview the topic of respect for the Holy Eucharist and its pastoral aspects of canon law. Reiterating that the Church has the right and the duty to tell someone who persists in public grave sin that he or she may not receive Communion, Archbishop Burke suggested that laxity among Catholics regarding respect for the Blessed Sacrament has resulted from a lack of Eucharistic Adoration and a felt connection between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.

In the interview, Archbishop Burke criticized rhetoric that presents receiving Holy Communion as a “right.”

“Who could claim that he has a right to receive the Body of Christ? This is all an act of God’s immeasurable love Our Lord makes Himself available to us in His Body and Blood for Holy Communion. But we can never say that we have the right to Him, that we can demand to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Each time we approach, we should approach with a profound sense of our own unworthiness.”

The archbishop said that Catholics have lost the sense of their unworthiness to receive the Sacrament and their need to confess their sins and repent in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.

Discussing Canons 915 and 916 of Church law, which concern worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Burke explained that the Church has those laws in place not to be mean and imposing, but to help the faithful reach salvation and to warn people who are in the state of mortal sin.

“It is the greatest act of charity to prevent somebody from doing something that is sacrilegious that is, to warn them, and then actually refuse to be party to a sacrilege… the Church, in Her love, prevents people from doing things that are gravely offensive to God and gravely damaging to their own souls.”

If the Sacrament is not refused, the archbishop explained, “People would be led to think it is alright to be in the state of mortal sin and to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion,” or it could lead people to believe “that the public act which this person is committing, which everyone thinks is a serious sin, must not be so serious because the Church permits that person to receive Holy Communion.”

In all this, the archbishop said, we must remember the great importance of the Sacrament.

“The first thing that needs to be said is that the Body and Blood of Christ is a gift of God’s love to us. It is the greatest gift, a gift beyond our ability to describe,” he said. “…A gift is freely given out of love and that is what God is doing for us every time we are able to participate in Mass and approach to receive Holy Communion.”

I find the reference to thinking of Eucharist as a “right” to be very provocative.  I think this as well as the reference to the laxity of Eucharistic adoration and penance have become detrimental to the Catholic church.

The second article speaks directly to the question of politicians supporting abortion rights.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians, who publically defend abortion should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”

In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”

To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law.” He then gave the example of politicians who “support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.

“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.

“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist.”

He explained that when the person is allowed to receive Communion, a second form of scandal consists: “leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing,” a sin, “which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious.”

“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.

Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather with the concern of the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”

“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.

It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”

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