By John-Henry Westen
ROME, October 12, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking at the Human Life International World Prayer Congress Saturday, Archbishop Raymond Burke received sustained applause when he noted that Catholic politicians who support abortion are required to repent publicly.
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.
(Read the complete talk - in PDF format - here)
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.”
Burke, who is also a member of the Congregation for Bishops added: “A most tragic example of the lack of obedience of faith, also on the part of certain Bishops, was the response of many to the Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, published on July 25, 1968. The confusion which resulted has led many Catholics into habits of sin in what pertains to the procreation and education of human life.”
Humanae Vitae reiterated age-old Christian teaching on the immorality of the use of artificial contraception. However, after its publication the encyclical was repudiated by many within the Catholic Church, including priests and bishops, who had believed that the Church would changes its views on contraception.
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 text of the archbishop’s talk here.
See the video of the archbishop’s full talk online here.