In response to a question about President Joe Biden's open defiance of the Catholic Church's moral teaching, particularly on abortion, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, an American, said that "a person who claims to be a Catholic and yet promotes in such an open, obdurate, and aggressive way a crime like procured abortion is in the state, at least, of apostasy."
He added that the next step to consider is a church penalty for the "crime of apostasy, which would be excommunication.”
Cardinal Burke, 72, is the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the former chief justice for the highest court at the Vatican, the Apostolic Signatura. He is one of the leading experts in Canon Law, the law that governs the workings of the Catholic Church.
During the interview, McKenna raised the topic of President Joe Biden, who is described by the leftist media as a "devout Catholic," but who supports abortion, gay "marriage," gay adoption, in vitro fertilization, and a variety of practices contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic church.
Noting that some Catholic bishops have publicly criticized Biden and urged him not to present himself for Holy Communion -- direction that Biden ignores -- because of the public scandal it causes, McKenna asked Burke, "What can be done now? What can be done other than saying something? Is there a next step? What could or should be done?"
Cardinal Burke replied, "Well, there are two things that should be done immediately. One has to do with the discipline with regard to reception of the sacraments. A person who obstinately and publicly denies truths of the faith and actually acts against the truths of the faith or of the moral law, may not present himself or herself to receive Holy Communion."
"And, at the same time, the minister of Holy Communion, usually the priest, is not to give them Holy Communion, should they present themselves," said the cardinal. "Now, normally speaking, people should understand that the crime of procured abortion is a grievous violation against the first precept of the moral law, namely the safeguarding and promoting of human life."
"But the priest should warn such a person that he should not present himself to receive Holy Communion, and should the person present himself, he should be denied," said Burke. "The same way, too, you couldn't make a good confession unless you had a firm purpose of amendment -- that you're intending not to promote anymore these horrible crimes against the moral law."
"We just talk about abortion, but there are other issues too," said Burke in reference to Biden. "The integrity of the family. Also, he's [Biden] threatened to act against religious freedom by trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor, and so forth, to pay for insurance for immoral practices."
"Stick with abortion," said Burke. "There are two truths at work. One is the holiness of the Holy Eucharist. It is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to receive the body of Christ knowingly and willingly in the state of sin is a sacrilege. It’s one of the worst sins." (Emphasis added.)
"And Saint Paul said it already in the first letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 11, ‘He who eats the body and blood of Christ without recognizing it, eats his own condemnation,'" said Burke. "And so, in order to prevent a commission of a sacrilege, we have to insist that such people not approach to receive Holy Communion."
He continued, “It’s not only for their own salvation, certainly, but also then to avoid the scandal given to others who see someone who’s publicly promoting grievously immoral acts and yet presents himself to receive Holy Communion."
"And so that is the first thing and that has nothing to do with a penalty," said Burke. "And people say, ‘You’re punishing.’ No, it has to do with a worthy reception of the sacrament. It’s simply the discipline that is necessary because of the reality of the Holy Eucharist."
"The second question is, that such a person who claims to be a Catholic and yet promotes in such an open, obdurate, and aggressive way a crime like procured abortion is in the state, at least, of apostasy," said the cardinal.
“In other words, to do this [promote abortion] is to draw away from Christ and to draw away from the Catholic faith," said Burke. "And so the second action, which needs to be considered, is a canonical penalty, a sanction, for the crime of apostasy, which would be excommunication.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith."
On Jan. 20, when Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States, Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement.
In part, the statement said, [A]s pastors, the nation’s bishops are given the duty of proclaiming the Gospel in all its truth and power, in season and out of season, even when that teaching is inconvenient or when the Gospel’s truths run contrary to the directions of the wider society and culture.
"So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences." (Emphasis added.)
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, stated on Jan. 28, “It is grievous that one of President Biden’s first official acts actively promotes the destruction of human lives in developing nations. This Executive Order is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching. We and our brother bishops strongly oppose this action."