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In this article, the Bishop Hermann from St. Louis underscores what I have been saying in my last few posts:

The Catholic Church teaches that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue.

The bishop goes on to make his point in a very interesting and straightforward way.

“Judgment Day is on its way. We cannot stop it. We don’t know when it will come, but just as surely as the sun rises daily, the Son of Man will come when we least expect.

Judgment Day is on its way. For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us in 10:32-33: “Everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father. But whoever denies Me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Judgment Day is on its way. When my time comes, I will be measured by my Savior for the decisions I have made. I will either be acknowledged by Jesus or denied by Him in the presence of our heavenly Father. The question I need to ask myself is this: What kind of witness will I give to Him when I go into the voting booth this election day?

The decision I make in the voting booth will reflect my value system. If I value the good of the economy and my current lifestyle more than I do the right to life itself, then I am in trouble. Pope John Paul II, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici tells us: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”

The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy. I am living proof of this, since I am here because my parents believed this priority and lived it. My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.

and

The Catholic Church teaches, in its catechism, in the works of Pope John Paul II and in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue. These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must chose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion.

Judgment Day is on its way! I may deny it. I may pretend that it is still far away, I may deny that my actions are sinful, but that will not change God’s judgment of me.
The deepest problem with many of our Catholics is that they have become so accustomed to rationalizing away a life of sinful actions so that they seem to be on cruise control, heading in the wrong direction. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

I recommend reading the whole article, especially if you are unclear what the church teaches about the implications of voting.  Unfortunately, many Catholic priests and bishops won’t tell it to you straight for fear of alienating parishioners, which is a tragic mistake.

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One of the rationalizations by those who are “pro-life” but supporting Obama for president is that it really won’t make much of a difference.  They’re not going to overturn Roe v. Wade anyway.

If our next president does nothing else, they will appoint between 33% and 55% of the Supreme Court justices that will be in power (an unfortunate phrasing for SCOTUS but an accurate one for activist courts) for a generation.  This alone should sway pro-life voters.  But suppose the two candidates had the identical picks for the court and this wasn’t an issue at all (accepting that this hypothetical scenario has no basis in reality).

The wrong choice in this election – Barack Obama – would still be the most devastating blow to the sanctity of life since 1973.  The reason is an innocuously named Freedom of Choice Act.  What is the FOCA?  Senator Barbara Boxer, co-sponser of the bill, has said: “The Freedom of Choice Act supercedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. ”

This article from the diocese of Paterson, New Jersey details what this act really means in language its sponsors prefer not to discuss.  Barack Obama supports this bill and has promised to sign it. Make no mistake that if Obama is elected, Pelosi and Reid will hand carry it on his desk and help him hold the pen. Not that President Obama would need the support. In addressing the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (July 17, 2007), he asserted that “the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

With a stroke of his pen, partial birth abortions ban will be invalidated.

On April 18, 2007, in Gonzales v. Carhart, The Supreme Court upheldthe Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. The very next day prominent Democratic members of Congress reintroduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The bill is misleadingly packaged as a freedom bill. It is not! It is a clear act of unreasoned bias to end abruptly and brutally the debate on the pressing and fundamental moral issue of the right to life.

For thirty-five years, Americans have been wrestling with The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade. Most Americans now favor some kind of a ban on abortion. Most who allow abortion would do so only in very rare cases. In fact, in January, 2008, the Guttmacher Institute published its 14th census of abortion providers in the country. Its statistics showed that the abortion rate continues to decline. Abortions have reached their lowest level since 1974. There is truly a deep sensitivity to life in the soul of America.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would mortally wound this sensitivity. In effect, it would dismantle the freedom of choice to do all that is necessary to respect and protect human life at its most vulnerable stage. FOCA goes far beyond guaranteeing the right to an abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It arrogantly prohibits any law or policy interfering with that right. While advocates trumpet this law as the triumph of the freedom of choice, they hide the dark reality that the law would actually inhibit choice.

Laws protecting the rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion would no longer stand. Health and safety regulations for abortion clinics would also vanish. Gone the freedom of health care professionals to be faithful to the Hippocratic Oath “to prescribe regimens for the good of …patients…and never do harm to anyone, to please no one [by prescribing] a deadly drug nor [by giving] advice which may cause his death.” Gone the freedom of conscience so essential for a civil society!

With a stroke of his pen, American taxpayers would be forced to fund abortions despite their moral objections.

If a minority of avid abortionists succeed to impose this law because of the ignorance or apathy of the majority, the law would force taxpayers to fund abortions. Gone the freedom of taxation with representation!

(more…)

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The following are excerpts from  a letter from Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, PA and read at every parish.  I encourage every Catholic voter to read the entire letter.

Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills.

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don’t think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: The finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that “pro-choice” candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of “social justice.” (more…)

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I turned on the news tonight and saw a debate on the importance of the abortion question in this presidential election.  There were representatives from both campaigns detailing the history of their candidates records on life issues, and explaining the importance of their position to the future direction of the United States.The democratic representative discussed Senator Obama’s vote in the Illinois Senate opposing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, explaining that in his judgment, it was more important in the big picture to protect the “right” of women to kill their children than to support the right of a living, breathing baby who was after all “unwanted” to receive medical attention.  He also defended Obama’s perfect record of supporting Planned Parenthood and NARAL as essential to keeping the pro-life movement from making it more difficult for a mother to exercise her “right” to kill her unborn child.The republican representative explained John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s view that life begins at the moment of conception and from that time forward, that child is entitled to all of the rights and protections as the rest of us.  They also underscored that Roe vs. Wade is bad law and bad policy, and they would nominate judges who would strictly interpret the written US Constitution and not define it as a living, breathing document in which the founding fathers hadn’t  intended a panel of nine citizens to make new laws because they felt it was “better for the country.”

The above is of course pure fiction.  The Obama campaign and their willing accomplices in the media are doing everything they can to not allow these critical differences to get any attention.   One reason is that Catholic voters (and many others) seduced by the rhetoric about fairness, healthcare and justice are completely at odds with Obama’s record and devastating policies regarding the culture of death. (more…)

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Last night in Mass, we sang “Happy Birthday” to Mary, led by the priest.  I have never been in a church that has done this before, but I thought it was wonderful.  After all, this is a common way to honor our loved ones on their birthdays.

Here is an interesting perspective from the Catholic News Agency.

“The hope of the entire world and the dawn of salvation.” – ( Lumen Gentium, 55 )

Besides Christmas, only two birthdays are celebrated in the Church’s liturgical calendar. That of John the Baptist on June 24, and the birth of our Lady, on September 8.

The reason for this is that these two saints, especially, of course, Mary, are figures of singular importance in the history of salvation. Their coming into the world heralds the arrival of the Word’s dwelling among men and the redemption of the fallen human race.

“Mary’s birth lies at the confluence of the two Testaments–bringing to an end the stage of expectation and the promises and inaugurating the new times of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ (LG, 55).”

“Mary, the Daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the People of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is “the hope and the dawn of the whole world.” With her, the elevated Daughter of Zion, after a long expectation of the promises, the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established. (LG, 55)

The feast of the Nativity of Mary originated in the Middle East in the sixth or seventh century and was included in the Roman calendar in the eighth. It is celebrated exactly 9 months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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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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The Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput has written an open letter to the Catholics of the Archdiocese entitled “ON THE SEPARATION OF SENSE AND STATE: A CLARIFICATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH IN NORTHERN COLORADO responding to Nancy Pelosi’s interview on Meet the Press.

In the letter he writes:

Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the “separation of Church and state.” But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a “political” issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.

He goes on to present a real Catholic historical assessment of the Church’s history on this issue and concludes:

Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it – whether they’re famous or not – fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.

The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the “separation of Church and state” does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it’s always important to know what our faith actually teaches.

I think Chaput makes an excellent point about the “one-way” separation. Pelosi will always use the separation of church and state when defending abortion rights, but as a politician, has no hesitation about throwing her politics into her religion. As a Catholic, I am always upset when politicians make policy that is harmful to unborn children, but I am incensed about Pelosi’s blatant misrepresentation of the faith she claims to practice. When taking a position like she has, she cannot represent her policies as a personal decision, but shines a light on the affront she is making on the Church and its moral teaching.

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This article from the Catholic News Agency details the snub of the Catholic Archbishop of the Democratic Convention’s host city.

Denver, Aug 20, 2008 / 03:05 am (CNA).- Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput was not invited to pray or speak at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in what former Boston mayor Ray Flynn called a “serious oversight” and an “insult” to the values of pro-life Catholics.The archbishop himself reportedly did not take the lack of an invitation personally.

The several Catholics on the Democratic Convention’s program include former Colorado state Sen. Polly Baca, “Dead Man Walking” author Sister Helen Prejean, social justice lobbyist Sister Catherine Pinkerton and Pepperdine University professor Douglas W. Kmiec, the Washington Times says.

Raymond Flynn, former Democratic mayor of Boston and former ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration, said not inviting the archbishop to pray or speak was “a serious oversight.”

“Chaput is one of the most respected leaders of the Catholic Church in America,” he said, according to the Washington Times. “His record is a strong commitment to social and economic justice and the principles of the Catholic faith. He’s also a strong patriot.

“Pro-life Democrats who are proud Catholics like myself feel this is an insult to our values… The party should be aware there are strong pro-life people who are politically successful,” Flynn continued.

Archbishop Chaput explained his own reaction to the absence of an invitation.

“I’m happy to see they are having prayer at their sessions, and they have a right to choose whom they want to do that,” he said.

Remarking about the Catholics chosen, he said, “Hopefully, they will know being Catholic is more foundational to their identity than anything else.”

On Monday, August 25, the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, the archbishop will join Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., in a prayer vigil against abortion near a Planned Parenthood Clinic. The vigil will take place in Martin Luther King Park in Denver.

Natalie Wyeth, a press secretary for the DNC contacted by the Washington Times, said the archbishop informed them he was too busy to attend.

Archbishop Chaput’s book “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life” was recently published in what the archbishop said was an attempt “to convince people they should not be embarrassed at being Catholic and not buy the supposedly American notion that people should shelve their faith when they enter the public square.”

“I am tired of people telling religious folks to be quiet in the public square because of constitutional questions of separation of church and state,” he said. “I hope this encourages people to become confident and active.”

Archbishop Chaput said the United States’ 47 million Catholic voters, many of whom have historically belonged to the Democratic Party, in former years could have “demanded that abortion not be part of the platform, but they did not.”

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The Catholic League has responded to the preposterous claim by Nancy Pelosi that the Catholic church has (or more specifically the “doctors of the Church” – whoever they are)  have not been able to define when life begins.  Unfortunately, many Catholic politicians are on the wrong side of this issue, but one has to wonder whether it is her understanding of her faith is so poorly formed or if it’s just wanton disregard for teachings that she doesn’t like.  Does she really believe that the Catholic Church’s teaching – the interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – would sanction abortion?

On yesterday’s NBC-TV show, “Meet the Press,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked to comment on when life begins. Here is what she said: “I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition.”

When Tom Brokaw told her that the Catholic Church “feels very strongly” that life begins at conception, Pelosi said, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: ‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.’ It also says, ‘Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.’ Looks like Pelosi didn’t study the subject long enough. But not to worry: We are sending her a copy of Catholicism for Dummies today (the Catechism is like maybe a bit advanced).

“Whether Joe Biden is as ignorant of what his religion teaches remains to be seen. What is not in doubt is the enthusiasm which NARAL showed when he was selected to join the ticket. The radical pro-abortion group was delighted, as were the radical pro-abortion delegates to the Democratic convention: as reported in today’s New York Times, 64 percent of Americans reject abortion-on-demand, yet only 23 percent of the delegates do. It is only fitting, then, that NARAL’s president will speak today at the Convention and Planned Parenthood’s president will speak tomorrow.

“So there we have it: the man running for president on the Democratic ticket supports selective infanticide, his running mate is a pro-abortion Catholic, the delegates are wildly out of step with Americans on abortion and the Speaker of the House hasn’t a clue what her religion teaches on the subject.”

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This article is about a very interesting appointment by Pope Benedict of Archbishop Raymond Burke to the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal.  Burke, the orthodox bishop of St Louis is one of America’s leading Canon lawyers and has been an outspoken leader in the Church on the controversy of distribution of Eucharist to political supporters of abortion rights.

Additional stories can be found at Catholic News Service and the St Louis Beacon.

Archbishop Raymond BurkeVATICAN CITY — St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke was named Friday (June 27) to head the Catholic Church’s highest court, a move that places an outspoken conservative in an important if not highly visible post.

Burke, 59, will be the first American to serve as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. The job usually comes with a cardinal’s red hat, which would add another American to the conclaves that elect popes.

Burke has led the charge among a handful of U.S. bishops to discipline Catholic politicians who stray from church teaching. In 2004, he told Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry he could not receive Communion in St. Louis because of his support of abortion rights.

The new post will allow Burke to leave his conservative imprint on the wider church, leading a court that has final say on administrative disputes but also marriage annulments and church closings.

“The appointment should make pro-choice Catholic politicians very nervous,” warned the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Burke’s five-year tenure in St. Louis has been brief but fiery. After publicly rebuking Kerry and other prominent Democrats, last year he said ministers who distribute Communion are “held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.”

Earlier this year, he excommunicated three women who were ordained as priests against church rules, and also said he would deny Communion to the basketball coach at St. Louis University for his support of abortion rights and stem cell research.

He also forbade Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., from speaking at her daughter’s graduation ceremony at a Catholic high school because of her record on abortion, and resigned from a Catholic children’s charity after the group featured singer Sheryl Crow, who supports abortion rights, at a fundraiser.

Burke becomes the second American to take on a prominent Vatican post. Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, now heads the church’s doctrinal office, a post he inherited from Pope Benedict XVI.

Burke replaces Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who was named Friday as the pope’s vicar general for the Diocese of Rome — effectively, the city’s acting bishop.

The Signatura hears appeals of decisions by lower church courts and administrative bodies, and settles jurisdictional disputes. According to Reese’s book “Inside the Vatican,” “Only about half a dozen cases a year are heard by the panel of cardinals and bishops, and these cases take about three years to be processed.”

Burke has been a member of the tribunal since July 2006.

If Burke is named a cardinal as expected, he will join 20 other U.S. cardinals, 14 of whom are currently under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope.

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