St. Louis, Oct. 4, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, the key figure in a heated debate during the US presidential campaign in 2004, has revived the same debate by saying that he would refuse to give Communion to a Catholic politician who supports legal abortion.
Questioned by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on whether he would refuse Communion to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, the archbishop replied: "If the question is about a Catholic who is publicly espousing positions contrary to the moral law, and I know that person knows it, Yes I would."
Although he avoided referring to Giuliani by name, Archbishop Burke reaffirmed the stand that he has adopted consistently: that priests have a moral obligation to withhold the Eucharist from anyone guilty of "manifest grave sin."
(Giuliani's public support for legal abortion is only one of several reason to question the Republican candidate's eligibility to receive Communion. Giuliani also favors embryonic stem-cell research and government recognition for same-sex unions, and his marital status is irregular.)
Contacted for a response to the archbishop's statement, Giuliani said that "archbishops have a right to their opinion. Everybody has a right to their opinion."
In an article published in September by the Periodica de Re Canonica, a canon-law journal, Archbishop Burke took issue with the statement adopted in 2004 by the US bishops' conference, which had concluded that individual bishops should set the policy for their own dioceses on the question of administering Communion to pro-abortion politicians. The archbishop argued in his essay that the Code of Canon Law does not allow for variations in diocesan policy, but "obliges the minister of Holy Communion to refuse the Sacrament in the cases indicated."