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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  • Posted by: - Feb. 04, 2004 6:34 PM ET USA

    On Jan. 22 I took my 5 children to the Pro-Life Mass. Our Bishop's homily centered around choosing life---by not smoking! Why should we expect him to admonish prominant Catholics in the diocese when he doesn't have the fortitude to take on the issue of abortion at a Mass dedicated to that purpose, on the very date of the Roe v. Wade decision, before a group who are there because they agree? Now that is spineless!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2004 10:17 AM ET USA

    With all due respect, it's Archbishop now, yes?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2004 9:13 AM ET USA

    Praise the Lord! Bishop Burke is a wonder and I hope that his actions show his less-fearless brethren how it is to be done. Perfect love casts out all fear! A loving Pastor wouldn't hesitate to act on behalf of all the souls in his care be they politicans, beggers, the unborn, housewives, the elderly, etc... The very fact that these men and women are in the public spotlight and openly defying the Church and her teaching, is reason enough to shut them down. You Go Bishop!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 29, 2004 8:13 PM ET USA

    As we say in Los Angeles: Where's Roger? A pro life Democrat would be good but support of pro life causes would be marvelous from the Cardinal. We still pray that Cardinal Mahony will be recognized for his unique talents and promoted to a position at the Vatican.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 29, 2004 2:03 PM ET USA

    Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, please phone your office, there's someone on hold on the big RED phone.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 29, 2004 2:02 PM ET USA

    So, the logical question is why hasn't *every* pro-abort pol or pro-abortapundit (no pun intended) had the same treatment from their own Bishop? Remind me, again, why St Augustine was worried about losing his soul forever, should he be guilty of the neglect of the souls under his care.