ROME, March 20, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “The priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion is a prime act of pastoral charity, helping the person in question to avoid sacrilege and safeguarding the other faithful from scandal,” said American Cardinal Raymond Burke in an interview published exclusively in English today by LifeSiteNews.
Burke was responding to the question of how a priest should proceed when he encounters a Catholic politician presenting him or herself for Communion while at the same time publicly supporting abortion or homosexual “marriage.”
“The exclusion of those who persist in manifest and grave sin, after having been duly admonished, from receiving Holy Communion is not a question of a punishment but of a discipline which respects the objective state of a person in the Church,” said Burke in the wide-ranging interview, conducted by Izabella Parowicz and originally published in Polish by Polonia Christiana magazine.
Following the words of Jesus at the last supper, Catholics believe that at the moment of consecration the Communion wafer is no longer bread — even though it has the appearance of bread — but has been turned into the body of Jesus Christ.
The law of the Church in Canon 915 states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” since they have made themselves unworthy to receive the divine guest Jesus.
Burke, a prominent canon lawyer and head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, continues: “Even as Saint Paul, in chapter 11 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, admonished the early Christians: ‘For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself’ (v. 29), so also the Church, down the ages, has admonished those engaged in manifest and grave sin not to approach to receive Holy Communion.”
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“In the case of a politician or other public figure who acts against the moral law in a grave matter and yet presents himself to receive Holy Communion, the priest should admonish the person in question and then, if he or she persists in approaching to receive Holy Communion, the priest should refuse to give the Body of Christ to the person.”
Burke has been outspoken throughout his years as a bishop about withholding communion from Catholic politicians who persist in their error.
Burke told the Irish newspaper Catholic Voice last year that it is not possible for a politician to support the killing of children in the womb and receive communion as a Catholic in good standing.
“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, adding that “as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion.”
In a September interview with the Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based newspaper, Burke said that pro-abortion Catholic politician Nancy Pelosi “must” be denied Communion.
“This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic,” the Cardinal said at that time. “I fear for Congresswoman Pelosi if she does not come to understand how gravely in error she is.”
In December, Burke told EWTN that he had considered backing away from advocating the discipline because of “very severe criticism” he had received, but honesty compelled him to continue.
“The Holy Eucharist is the most sacred reality. It is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I simply wouldn't approach to receive Holy Communion if I was in the state of sin and neither would I give Holy Communion to someone who I knew was is in the state of sin.”
“I would consider myself less than an honest canon lawyer not to insist on this.”
Find the full interview with Cardinal Burke here.