By John Jalsevac

May 8, 2009 ( – Friday morning at the National Catholic Prayer breakfast, Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was recently appointed to head the Catholic Church’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, delivered a stirring and hard-hitting address that focused specifically on the challenges against the right to life and the family in America today. (To read the complete address, see:

Archbishop Burke has long been considered a hero within the pro-life and pro-family movement for his frequent and unapologetic defenses of traditional Christian teaching on the life and the family. He is one of the few U.S. bishops who faced the storm of controversy and criticism for saying publicly that he would refuse communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians who refuse to recant on their anti-life position.

“I come to you, this morning, with the deepest concern for our nation,” Archbishop Burke told attendees at the breakfast this morning. “Over the past several months,” he said, “our nation has chosen a path which more completely denies any legal guarantee of the most fundamental human right, the right to life, to the innocent and defenseless unborn.”

“Those in power” he said, “now determine who will or will not be accorded the legal protection of the most fundamental right to life. First the legal protection of the right to life is denied to the unborn and, then, to those whose lives have become burdened by advanced years, special needs or serious illness, or whose lives are somehow judged to be unprofitable or unworthy.”

Burke specifically mentioned President Obama’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act, his repeal of the Mexico City policy, his renewed support for the United Nations Population Fund and his proposal to rescind the freedom of conscience clauses. “These are only some examples of a consistent pattern of decisions by the leadership of our nation which is taking our nation down a path which denies the fundamental right to life to the innocent and defenseless unborn and violates the fundamental integrity of the marital union and the family.”

Burke said that the Obama government’s plan to rescind conscience protections for healthcare workers would force “those with a particular responsibility to protect and foster human life, to participate in the destruction of unborn human lives.”

“Our laws may soon force those who have dedicated themselves to the care of the sick and the promotion of good health to give up their noble life work, in order to be true to the most sacred dictate of their consciences,” lamented Burke. “What is more, if our nation continues down the path it has taken, healthcare institutions operating in accord with the natural moral law, which teaches us that innocent human life is to be protected and fostered at all times and that it is always and everywhere evil to destroy an innocent human life, will be forced to close their doors.”

Burke also pointed to the current attacks on the family, saying that “the fundamental society, that is, the family, upon which the life of our nation is founded and depends, is under attack by legislation which redefines marriage to include a relationship between two persons of the same sex and permits them to adopt children.”

The archbishop said that the root of these attacks against the family is the so-called “contraceptive mentality,” “which would have us believe that the inherently procreative nature of the conjugal union can, in practice, be mechanically or chemically eliminated, while the marital act remains unitive.”

But, he said, “It cannot be so.”

Burke said, however, that the recent volley of attacks against life and the family are merely the playing out of a clearly outlined agenda of the current leadership of the United States, a leadership which was “freely chosen” by Americans, including by a majority of American Catholics. Indeed, he said, “As Catholics, we cannot fail to note, with the greatest sadness, the number of our fellow Catholics, elected or appointed by our President to public office, who cooperate fully in the advancement of a national agenda which is anti-life and anti-family.”

He singled out recently confirmed secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, as one such Catholic “who has openly and persistently cooperated with the industry of procured abortion in our nation,” and whose anti-life agenda “is necessarily a source of the deepest embarrassment to Catholics.”

The Vatican prelate then addressed the question of what Catholics can do to turn the tide of the current crisis in which the United States is currently plunged, asking what “does the virtue of patriotism …require of us for the common good, for the good of the whole nation?”

“First and foremost,” he said, “it demands what we are doing this morning, that is, prayer, and the serious reflection which arises from our communion with God in prayer.” In addition, however, Catholics must “accept our responsibility as citizens to work tirelessly to change unjust programs, policies and laws.” The common good, he said, “depends upon the active engagement of religious faith in the public forum.”

The archbishop addressed the much-discussed question of whether or not a Catholic can legitimately vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion, for the sake of other good policies that they may have. The archbishop responded that “there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, which a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the unborn, euthanasia or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as a legal marriage.

“The respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the integrity of marriage and the family are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good it may be.”

Burke also noted that at this junction in history the temptation for those fighting for life and the family is towards discouragement. “And it would be right to do so, if the outcome of the battle depended upon us alone,” he said. “But it does not. Christ is with us always in the Church and, in a particular way, in the struggle to restore the respect for the right to life of all of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are helpless and who have the first title to our care, and to safeguard the integrity of marriage and the family.

“Christ Who is the Gospel of Life, encountered in prayer and through the Sacraments, will give us the strength to announce His word of life and to act upon His word of life, on behalf of all in our nation, especially those who depend upon us to care for them and protect their God-given rights.”

Burke concluded: “Invoking the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, let us pray today and everyday that we as Catholics, true to our faith and, therefore, patriotically devoted to our nation, may promote respect for all human life, safeguard the sanctity of marriage and the family, and, thereby, foster the good of all in the nation and in the world.”