ROME, November 29, 2004 ( – Since the US election many pro-life Catholics have been asking if the struggle over pro-abortion public figures receiving communion is a dead issue.

Archbishop James Burke of St. Louis, the leader among the US bishops in the drive to refuse Holy Communion to public dissenters from essential teachings of the Catholic religion, said this week that the battle in the US Catholic Church is not over. During the run-up to the election, Burke was the most prominent among a minority of bishops who said they would be willing to uphold Church Law that requires that, ‘manifest grave sinners,’ be refused communion until they recant.

Burke said from Rome, “These are questions that are at the very foundation of the life of our country. We just simply have to continue to address them.” He told CNS news, “There’s no sense on my part of having accomplished something and now being finished with it.”  Headlines were made by the self-proclaimed “Catholic” John Kerry’s insistence that he remains a good Catholic while being one of the most energetic supporters of abortion in the Senate. While the battle over the oval office was being fought, a deep and disturbing division was revealed within the US Catholic Church over this most fundamental issue. A small group of bishops upheld the Vatican’s directive to refuse communion to pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.

Judie Brown at American Life League issued a media release last week asking the US episcopate not to drop the issue. The release was in response to the issuing, by Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, of a written report that said there would be no organized refusal of communion to pro-abortion public figures by the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Brown said, “The American bishops have failed to address the real problem: one cannot be both Catholic and pro-abortion…Cardinal McCarrick’s task force report clearly displayed the bishops’ conference’s unwillingness to enforce Church teaching on this grave matter.”

Burke says that the job ahead is to strengthen that teaching which he says is “very weak at the present moment.”

Burke said that the high proportion of those polled on election day who said they voted on ‘moral issues’ is a heartening note. “That is encouraging to me,” he said. “It is also a great challenge, because now it falls to the church and to other moral leaders to continue to raise these questions, to write about them, to engage in civic discourse so that they continue to have that priority.”“Let’s just be honest, the application of the church’s discipline in this regard is weak,” he said.  Read CNS story:   ph