U.S. Archbishop Burke Orders Priests to Refuse Communion for Anti-Life Politicians

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin, January 9, 2004 ( - Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, of the La Crosse Diocese, has issued an official order stating that politicians who support abortion or euthanasia are to be refused Holy Communion. 

The notification, published yesterday in the diocesan paper The Catholic Times begins by quoting extensively from authoritative Vatican documents explaining that support for abortion by Catholic politicians is gravely sinful.

The key paragraphs in the notification read:  “I hereby call upon Catholic legislators, who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse, to uphold the natural and divine law regarding the inviolable dignity of all human life.  To fail to do so is a grave public sin and gives scandal to all the faithful.  Therefore, in accord with the norm of can. 915, Catholic legislators, who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion.  They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such time as they publicly renounce their support of these most unjust practices. 

“I ask for the prayers of all the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and of all people of good will within the Diocese of La Crosse, that Catholic legislators who have promoted procured abortion or euthanasia, with the help and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may undergo a conversion of heart in this most grave matter, so that human life may be protected and fostered in the greatest way possible and these legislators may be admitted once more to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.” 

Archbishop Burke previously wrote the Catholic legislators to whom his notification applies asking them to meet personally with him. 

Explaining the necessity of the notification to the Catholic News Service the Archbishop said, “After several exchanges of letters, it became clear in all three cases that there was no willingness to conform to the teaching of the church. So the notification became a necessity in order that the faithful in the diocese not be scandalized, thinking that it is acceptable for a devout Catholic to also be pro-abortion.” 

The La Cross Tribune reported that Rose Hammes, director of communications for the La Crosse diocese, said the decree is binding on priests. She also told the Tribune the bishop’s decree serves to remind all Catholics that the church has teachings they should abide by.

See the full notification online at:

Email Archbishop Burke at:  [email protected]

With files from the Diocese of La Crosse and La Crosse Tribune

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