ST. LOUIS, August 6, 2004 ( – In an exclusive interview with Barbara Kralis of, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has become the second U.S. Bishop to admit that the letter from Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger intended to guide U.S. Bishops in their deliberations around the subject of communion and pro-abortion politicians was withheld from the bishops.  The letter was sent to Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who heads the U.S. Bishops’ task force studying the matter.  On the Ratzinger memo which spelled out that obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians must be denied communion, Burke was asked, “were the contents of the memo made known to you and the other bishops at the Denver meeting?”  He replied, “It certainly was not made known to me and I do not believe it was given to the other bishops. Cardinal McCarrick referred to the memorandum.  We were told that, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, the application of the Canon 915 was up to the prudent judgment of each bishop.  The text of the memorandum would have been very helpful at the meeting in Denver.  Knowing now about the memo, I am disappointed it was not given to us at the meeting of the Bishops’ Conference.”

The Burke interview marks the second explosive interview Kralis has released on the controversy. Last month, Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, Oregon also told Kralis the memo was not revealed, even to bishops.  “As I recall, Cardinal McCarrick made reference to some letter, but I did not see a copy of the letter at the meeting. I don’t know if the committee writing the ‘Statement,’ entitled ‘Catholics in Political Life,’ was given a copy of the letter,” he said.  Archbishop Burke, a doctor of canon law, said that despite the statements in the US Conference document ‘Catholics in Political Life’ suggesting otherwise, Bishops cannot opt not to forbid obstinately pro-abortion politicians communion.  Kralis asked, if the U.S. Conference document meant that “one Bishop can deny Senator John Kerry Holy Communion and another Bishop can give Kerry Communion and both Bishops are correct?”  Archbishop Burke replied, “No, in fact, Canon 915 must be applied.  It does not give an option.  Canon 915 says that those persons who obstinately persist in grave manifest sin must be denied the Eucharist.  I strongly believe that if a bishop has spoken to someone who obstinately persists in grave manifest sin and he still presents himself for Holy Communion, he should be refused.”  See both original interviews: