Archbishop: Catholic Pols Who Betray Faith Must Repent Publicly

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In remarks given at a conference in Rome last week, the current head of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura said that Catholic politicians who publicly espouse gravely sinful acts such as abortion must not only repent of the error, but do so in public in order to repair the grave scandal caused as a result of their actions. is reporting that Archbishop Raymond Burke made the comments during remarks delivered at the 5th Human Life International World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome. After deploring the reality of “cafeteria Catholicism” where people believe they can decide what part of the deposit of faith to believe and practice, he said it is not possible to support abortion or same-sex marriage and still claim to be a practicing Catholic.

This is especially true for public figures.

“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,” he said.

“The person in question bears a heavy responsibility for the grave scandal which he has caused.  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.”

A Catholic who truly recognizes the gravity of his or her error will understand immediately that they need to make public reparation, he said.

This is why the 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.”

Archbishop Burke made headlines in 2004 while still serving as Archbishop of St. Louis when he refused to serve Communion to then-presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.) because of his pro-abortion views.

This is not the first time the Archbishop has singled out U.S. Catholic politicians who persist in their public support of abortion and homosexual marriage. In 2009, he publicly chastised Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and former governor of Kansas, who “obstinately persists in serious sin” by her public support and promotion of abortion in spite of frequent pastoral admonitions. 

He called her appointment as secretary a source of “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.”

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