Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Archishop Burke, and his brethren

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 29, 2004

Princeton's Robert George and Notre Dame's Gerard Bradley provide a tightly reasoned defense of Bishop Raymond Burke's discipline of pro-abort Catholics. The whole essay is worth a careful read. Here's a key paragraph:

The bishop said that he acted for two reasons. One was to warn Catholic legislators that their unjust acts were spiritually harmful to them -- "a grave sin." The other was to prevent "scandal": that is, weakening the faith and moral resolution of others by one's bad example. Having made every effort to persuade pro-abortion Catholic legislators to fulfill their obligations in justice to the unborn, Bishop Burke articulated the obvious: Any Catholic who exercises political power to expose a disfavored class of human beings to unjust killing sets himself against the very faith he claims to share. The Church cannot permit such a person to pretend to share in the faith he publicly defies. By receiving communion -- the sacrament of unity -- pro-abortion Catholics are pretending exactly that. The bishop has called a halt to the pretense.

I described the article as a defense of Bishop Burke, and it is. But it is more than that. Professors George and Bradley have crafted an argument that demonstrates not only that Burke's action was permissible, but that it was obligatory -- that any bishop in comparable circumstances is morally required to act as Burke did. For obvious reasons they don't foreground this aspect of the essay, but in fact they have shifted the burden of proof onto those bishops who decline to act.

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