By John-Henry Westen
ROME, August 19, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The head of the highest court in the Vatican has given an interview with a Roman magazine in which he notes that when dealing with pro-abortion Catholic politicians, "the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny It (Communion) to him."
Last month, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Raymond Burke, formerly the Archbishop of St. Louis, as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which is the highest judicial authority of the Catholic Church besides the Pope himself. In an interview published in the current edition of the Italian magazine Radici Cristiane, Archbishop Burke addresses the issue which has caused great controversy among the hierarchy in the West.
In the interview, parts of which were translated by Catholic News Agency, the Archbishop noted first that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be publicly corrected and told not to receive: and, if they persist, they should be denied. He spoke of dealing with "public officials" who contravene Divine and Eternal law such as "if they 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.
The Archbishop explained that the Church does this "not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather in the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well," reported Catholic News Agency.
"We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist," the archbishop continued. "Secondly, there could be another form of scandal, consisting of leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious - if the Church allows him or her to receive Communion."
"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 it up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb," he warned.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Abortion-Politician-Communion Scandal Shows Real Lack of Pastoral Concern
Can Catholics Who Vote for Obama Still Receive Communion