Patrick Craine

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Cardinal Burke: Restoring respect for the conjugal act is ‘essential’ to future of West

Patrick Craine

VATICAN CITY, May 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of America’s leading prelates, urged pro-life citizens and leaders to promote respect for the sexual act at an international pro-life conference in Rome Saturday.

“The restoration of respect for the integrity of the conjugal act is essential to the future of Western culture, the advancement of a culture of life,” the cardinal said. “Fundamental to the transformation of Western culture is the proclamation of the truth about the conjugal union in its fullness and the correction of the contraceptive thinking which fears life, which fears procreation.”

The cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, its highest court, was speaking in a keynote address at the inaugural International Pro-Life Conference, held the day before the Italian March for Life. The event was hosted by LifeSiteNews in partnership with Human Life International and Family Life International New Zealand.

In his remarks, the cardinal emphasized the importance of public demonstrations for life such as the marches for life around the world, and highlighted “the importance of developing and supporting truly pro-life and pro-family media.”

He also reiterated his urgent call for Eucharistic ministers to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. At the same conference, 52 pro-life leaders from 16 nations had joined in signing a declaration urging the world’s bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians in a spirit of “love and mercy.”

Cardinal Burke’s talk focused on the “perennial newness” of the Gospel of life, and he noted that man “can never tire of reflecting upon and honoring the immeasurable and unceasing love of God for the one earthly creature whom He has created for friendship, for communion, with Himself.”

He began his remarks by thanking the organizers of the international conference “for the promotion of the apostolate of respect for human life.” He said, “It is my desire, by my presence and with my words, to pay tribute to your tireless work in defending and fostering the inviolability of innocent and defenseless human life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.”

“It is especially fitting that our meeting is the prelude for the Fourth March for Life in Rome, at which, in the City of Saints Peter and Paul, so important and beloved in all the world, an international gathering will give strong and public witness to the unchanging truth about human life,” he said.

Cardinal Burke emphasized that the lack of respect for human life is rooted in a lack of respect for the conjugal act, urging a firm acceptance and promotion of the Church’s teaching on the transmission of life and contraception.

“The attack on the innocent and defenseless life of the unborn has its origin in an erroneous view of human sexuality, which attempts to eliminate, by mechanical or chemical means, the essentially procreative nature of the conjugal act,” he explained. “This error maintains that the artificially altered act retains its integrity.”

While some claim the sexual act remains unitive despite the use of contraceptives, “in fact, it is not unitive, for one or both of the partners withholds an essential part of the gift of self, which is the essence of the conjugal union.”

“The so-called ‘contraceptive mentality’ is essentially anti-life,” he said. “Many forms of what is called contraception are in fact abortifacient, that is, they destroy a life which has already been conceived, has already begun.”

“The manipulation of the conjugal act, as Pope Paul VI courageously observed, has led to many forms of violence against marriage and family life,” he added, noting the rapid growth in pornography through the internet.

The cardinal said the “exponential” increase in the secularization of Western culture has in part been “due to a grave impoverishment or even lack of adequate catechesis in the Church during the past four decades.”

St. John Paul II, he said, emphasized the fact that the Church herself was in urgent need of evangelization. In order to remake the fabric of Christian society, said St. John Paul II, “what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself.”

“Fundamental to understanding the radical secularization of our culture is to understand also how much this secularization has entered into the life of the Church Herself,” said Burke.

He also noted that “the fundamental locus of the proclamation of the Gospel of life is the family, in which the children witness the Gospel of life in the relationship of their parents with one another and in the relationship of the parents with them.”

Cardinal Burke's full address, 'The Perennial Newness of the Gospel of Life', is available here.

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