MILWAUKEE, January 27, 2004 ( – In an interview Sunday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan praised La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke for his strong stand on abortion and euthanasia, which Archbishop Dolan called “A cause that for us is the premier cause of social justice in America today.” 

Archbishop Dolan, who has known Bishop Burke since 1972, said that Bishop Burke’s actions “had prompted him to examine his own conscience, to see if he had been as ‘effective’ and ‘cogent’ as he should have been in presenting church teaching.” 

Archbishop Dolan, a firm supporter of sanctity-of-life teachings, praised Bishop Burke’s “front-burnering” of the issue by disciplining Catholic politicians who support abortion. But in reference to Bishop Burke’s January 8th official order stating that politicians who support abortion or euthanasia be refused Holy Communion, Archbishop Dolan said that “I know every bishop’s just got to kind of make up his mind prudentially as to the way, the style he’s going to do it in his own diocese. I’m pretty much at peace with the way I’ve been handling it.” 

Archbishop Dolan told the Journal Sentinel that he takes advantage of every opportunity to preach the message during his sermons, and that, before deciding whether he will emulate Burke, he awaits guidelines for bishops which will be proposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this fall. 

The Journal Sentinel asked Archbishop Dolan “What about, in a democratic society, the principle of an elected official representing everyone?” Archbishop Dolan, who holds a doctorate in American Church history, replied that “That’s where it comes down, doesn’t it. That’s where the delicacy of the whole issue is, when he says, ‘Well, I’m elected but…’ That was used, of course, to justify opposition to civil rights. That was used for slavery. That was used for segregation.  You know, we American bishops – again (speaking as) the church historian – I look back to our stance on slavery, and it wasn’t a good one. And we look back and say, ‘Darn it. We missed an opportunity to be prophetic.’ And I guess that’s something we bishops have to ask ourselves now. Are we missing an opportunity to be prophetic?” 

With files from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


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