Archbishop Burke Charges Politicians to Put “God First”
By Matt Anderson
PHOENIX, AZ, January 14, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a homily delivered to lawyers and politicians at the annual Red Mass in Phoenix, AZ on Tuesday, Archbishop Raymond Burke emphasized the sacred nature of a vocation to public service, reports the Catholic News Agency.
The Red Mass, a tradition which started in the middle ages, is celebrated every year around the second Sunday in January to remind those in public positions of authority that true justice is found only in God.
Burke became well-known in 2004 for his very public battle with then-presidential candidate and Catholic John Kerry. Burke, then Archbishop of St. Louis, MO, told reporters that he would not give communion to Kerry because of Kerry’s pro-abortion stance.
In 2008 Archbishop Burke was appointed the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican. John Kelly, general counsel for the Diocese of Phoenix told Phoenix's Catholic Sun newspaper that "Archbishop Burke’s position is akin to that of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court."
The archbishop has continued to repeatedly make headlines for his strong pro-life positions, especially for his willingness to say that persistently pro-abortion Catholic politicians must be refused communion. Not long after the Ted Kennedy Funeral controversy Burke gave a talk strongly supportive of those who experience "scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law." In the talk he also rejected charges that those who publicly express dismay over these scandals were destroying unity in the Church.
In his homily on Tuesday, Burke emphasized that the Red Mass’s placement “at the beginning of the new judicial year pointed to the irreplaceable foundation of the service of pronouncing the just and the right on behalf of one’s brothers and sisters.”
Highlighting the need for a true foundation of justice, Burke drew from the example of St. Thomas More, who was martyred in 1535 for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII’s power to declare himself head of the church of England. More is said to have declared before he died, “I die the king’s good servant, and God’s first.”
Burke said, “Saint Thomas More understood that there could be no contradiction between his service of his nation and his service of God, and that, in fact, he could only serve his nation truly and faithfully by his true and faithful service of God.”
According to Burke, it is the duty of a public official to forget himself and pursue that justice which most properly belongs to God. Burke reminded them that traditionally a judge would declare “Having God only before eyes” before delivering a ruling.
Continuing on this theme he said, “The minister of justice bears a most heavy burden, the burden of emptying himself of himself, in order to have God alone before His eyes, in declaring what is just and right on behalf of his fellow citizens.”
However, according to the archbishop, the current society is one which is hostile to the true administration of justice, trying “to force individuals and institutions to cooperate in egregious violations of the natural moral law.”
“In such a society, the administration of justice is no longer a participation in the justice of God, an obedient response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but a façade cloaking our own selfishness and refusal to give our lives for the sake of the good of all our brothers and sisters.”
With this environment of hostility to true justice in mind, Burke emphasized the importance of the roles those present would play in forming public policy. Particularly, Burke emphasized the need to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
“All of us depend upon you to speak what is just and right on our behalf and on behalf of all our brothers and sisters, especially those whose lives are in any way threatened.”
Concluding with a prayer he said, “Let us lift up to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus those charged with the administration of justice on our behalf, imploring for them the gift of the Holy Spirit to inspire and strengthen them in declaring what is just and right on behalf of all our brothers and sisters, especially those who are in most need.”
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