Archbishop Raymond Burke spoke at the Human Life International World Prayer Congress Saturday and received sustained applause when he noted that Catholic politicians who support abortion are required to repent publicly.
What Archbishop Burke said makes milk toast of the dismissive approach Fr. Bryan Hehir, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, and Cardinal O’Malley have displayed to those standing up for the pro-life teachings of the Catholic faith in recent months and years.
According to LifeSiteNews, in speaking to pro-life leaders from 45 nations, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest Vatican court) also noted that those who recognize the scandal caused by such public, dissident Catholics assist the Church in repairing a serious breach, but are nevertheless often ridiculed for it.
Let’s pause here for a moment. This is EXACTLY what happens here in Boston. Remember the reaction of Cardinal O’Malley where he criticized faithful Catholics who complained about the 2009 Caritas Christi/Centene financial partnership that involved abortion referrals? Remember his criticism of faithful Catholics who complained about the coronation-style funeral for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy? Remember the Vicar General’s criticism of this blog?
Achibishop Burke stressed that:
both bishops and the faithful” must be obedient to the Magisterium – which he described as the teaching of Christ as handed down through the successor of Peter and the bishops in union with him. “When the shepherds of the flock are obedient to the Magisterium, entrusted to their exercise, then surely the members of the flock grow in obedience and proceed with Christ along the way of salvation,” he said. “If the shepherd is not obedient the flock easily gives way to confusion and error.”
Turning to the issue of scandal within the Church, the archbishop said,
We find self-professed Catholics, for example, who sustain and support the right of a woman to procure the death of the infant in her womb, or the right of two persons of the same sex to the recognition which the State gives to a man and a woman who have entered into marriage. It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner.”
To resounding applause Burke said, “When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public.”
The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura then voiced a concern that struck a deep chord with many of the Catholic pro-life activists present at the conference.
One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church,” he said. “One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule and even censure of those who experience scandal.”
The Vatican prelate concluded the point stating:
Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.
(Read the complete talk – in PDF format – here)
In Catholic Bloggers faithful to the Magisterium causing harm to the community? we recapped how faithful Catholics who complained about the scandal of the over-the-top Kennedy funeral were criticized by Cardinal for their “zeal,” and their “attitudes and practices [that] do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.”
When Caritas Christi announced a joint venture with Centene Corporation and faithful Catholics complained that it included provisions for referring patients to abortion providers, Cardinal O’Malley responded that anyone who suggested Caritas would ever do anything to promote abortions or participate in actions contrary to Catholic moral teaching was “doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church.”
When this blog highlighted and documented in extensive detail the scandalous comments by Fr. Bryan Hehir that undermined Church teachings at the risk of leading souls from salvation, Vicar General Fr. Erikson responded, ” I believe there is much on your blog that is untrue and harmful to individuals and to the Body of Christ.” He never came up with even one example to back his unfounded claim.
“The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life.”
We invite Cardinal O’Malley and Vicar General Fr. Erikson to prayerfully consider the dramatic difference between their attitudes and the message of Archbishop Burke.
Inspired by Archbishop Burke’s comments, very shortly we are going to up the volume level of our campaign to Bishop Coleman and the Holy See asking them to remove two people from the search committee for the new Mass Catholic Conference head who have histories of support for pro-abortion political candidates. As Archbishop Burke said, it’s part of what we must do to invite the Church to repair what clearly poses a serious breach in Her life.