Vatican's Chief Justice: Catholic Politicians Who Support Abortion or Gay Marriage Must Publicly Repent

By Michael W. Chapman | October 18, 2010 | 1:51 PM EDT

Raymond Leo Burke, archbishop emeritus of St. Louis, MO, and current prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court at the Vatican, in Rome.

( – Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion or homosexual marriage and then seek to turn away from such “gravely sinful acts” must perform “public” actions of “repentance,” said Raymond Burke, the archbishop emeritus of St. Louis and the current head of the highest court at the Vatican, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

In remarks at the 5th Human Life International World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome, Italy, Arbp. Burke said that the culture today pushes a “cafeteria Catholicism,” whereby some Catholics pick and choose “what part of the deposit of faith to believe and practice.” As a result, “there has developed in places a false notion that the Christian or any person of faith, in order to be a true citizen of his nation, must bracket his faith life from his public life.”

“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,” said the archbishop. “It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner.”

Arbp. Burke continued, “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 person in question bears a heavy responsibility for the grave scandal which he has caused,” said the archbishop in his speech last week. “The responsibility is especially heavy for political leaders. The repair of such scandal begins with the public acknowledgment of his own error and the public declaration of his adherence to the moral law.”

“The soul which recognizes the gravity of what he has done will, in fact, understand immediately the need to make public reparation,” he said.

Arbp. Burke also said that Catholics in public life “who persistently violate the moral law” on abortion and homosexual marriage “lead many into confusion and or even error,” which does the “gravest harm to our brother s and sisters and, therefore, to the whole nation.”

As a result, the Catholic Church employs the discipline of not giving Holy Communion or a Church funeral “to those who persist, after admonition, in the grave violation of the moral law,” said the archbishop.

In 2004, as archbishop of St. Louis, Burke said he would not serve Communion to then-presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.) because of his pro-abortion views.

Concerning Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department and former governor of Kansas, Arbp. Burke said in 2009, “Whether Governor Sebelius is in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or in any other diocese, she should not present herself for Holy Communion, because after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Cenetafile)

Sebelius “is well known for her support of the right to procured abortion and for her public association with some of the more notorious agents of the culture of death,” said Burke. 
“As a Roman Catholic, her appointment is the source of the greatest embarrassment because she has publicly and repeatedly betrayed her Catholic faith, in the most fundamental tenet of the moral law, that is, the law to safeguard and foster human life from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death,” Burke said.
“What is more, she has obstinately remained in her moral error after being admonished by, at least, three of her bishops …” he added.

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman