Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Bishops have a 'duty' to deny pro-abortion politicians Communion, American Cardinal says

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, February 8, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The belief by many Catholics in politics, supported by many in the Catholic hierarchy and clergy, that it is possible to be in active support of legalised abortion and remain in good standing with the Church, has become a notorious source of scandal in the U.S., Canada, Britain, and Europe. One of the world’s most resolute defenders of the Church’s teaching is Raymond Leo Burke, the Cardinal Prefect of the Vatican’s highest court. The American Cardinal told an Irish newspaper last week, again, that a person who persists in the “grave sin” of supporting abortion in law must both refrain from presenting himself for reception of Communion, but must be refused when he does so.

In a lengthy interview with the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice, the Cardinal Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, said again that it is not possible to remain in good standing as a Catholic and support the killing of children in the womb as a politician.  

“There can be no question that the practice of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins and therefore once a Catholic politician has been admonished that he should not come forward to receive Holy Communion,” he said.

Not only should he not come forward himself, “as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion,” the cardinal added.

Burke made it clear that the duty lies ultimately with the bishop to both instruct and, when there is no change in behaviour, to withhold Communion.

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“The local Bishop should teach clearly in the matter and also encourage his priests to make sure that the Church’s discipline is observed, in order to avoid the grave sin of sacrilege on the part of the Catholic politician who approaches to receive Holy Communion when he is persisting obstinately in grave moral evil, and to prevent the scandal which is caused when such individuals receive Holy Communion, because their reception of Holy Communion gives the impression that the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is not firm,” he stated.

“At a much deeper level of faith and of personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said, a person’s love of Christ ought to be enough to compel him to refrain from reception of Communion, that the Church teaches is literally the body and blood of Jesus, if he cannot give up his sins," he added. “A person obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin will refrain from approaching to receive Holy Communion because of his love of our Lord and his sorrow for the grave sin which he is committing against our Lord and His Holy Church.”

The controversy continues unabated in the Church as long as many other bishops, including the current and previous archbishops of Washington, D.C., continue to refuse to countenance the idea of refusing Communion to the Catholic political supporters of legalised abortion like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cardinal Donald Wuerl has frequently said that he will not use the reception of Communion as a “political weapon.”

But Burke said that in his own experience as a bishop, telling politicians not to approach has been sufficient. “They have understood and have followed the discipline of the Church as it is set forth in Canon 915,” he said.

The so-called Canon 915 controversy came to the fore in the U.S. when the strongly pro-abortion Senator John Kerry was running for leadership of the Democrat party and insisted on campaigning on his credentials as a “devout” Catholic. Canon 915 refers to the section of the Church’s Code of Canon Law that forbids those who “persist” in “manifest grave sin” to receive Holy Communion. The issue has become a flash-point in American politics, and Burke has long upheld the Church’s teaching that support of abortion by a politician is well within the canonical definition.

He called it the “duty” of all Catholic politicians to “support all of those measures which will most reduce the evils which attack human life and the integrity of marriage.”

“To decriminalize abortion,” he said, “is a contradiction of the most fundamental principle of the legal system, the principle that human life is to be safeguarded and defended at all times.”

Referring to the now-notorious case of media manipulation by abortion activists in the Savita Halapannavar case, Cardinal Burke said, “The Irish people, and especially the Irish government, should be very alert to the kind of argumentation which will be used by the secular media and by secular ideologues, particularly “claiming that the destruction of the new human life in her womb could have saved the life of Savita Halappanavar and, therefore, would have been justified.”

On an issue that has often divided some in the pro-life movement, the cardinal also appeared to favour the use of graphic abortion images -- "images which portray the horror of abortion" -- in public education campaigns. “One must observe that we have a habit in society today to use language which helps us to avoid the reality about which we are speaking,” he said.

“Certainly one must be careful not to use graphic images for the sake of being graphic,” Cardinal Burke added. “On the other hand, our fellow citizens should know what an abortion actually is. Images of the act of abortion or the results of abortion, when carefully presented to the public, can help the public, in general, to recognize the grave evil which besets us and to take appropriate action.”

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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