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Cardinal Burke’s Comments: Incomprehensible, Disingenuous and Wrong

September 25, 2013

In an interview with an ultraconservative Catholic newspaper, Cardinal Ray Burke, a Vatican official, said that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi should be denied Communion because of her prochoice views.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said, “Congresswoman Pelosi was speaking not only herself, but for millions of Catholics in the US and around the world when she was asked about the conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. She said that, as a practicing and faithful Catholic, ‘What was done in Philadelphia was reprehensible, and everyone condemned it. For [Congress] to decide to disrespect a judgment a woman makes about her reproductive health is reprehensible.’ It is incomprehensible why this statement condemning Gosnell’s crimes would lead Cardinal Burke to claim that Mrs. Pelosi should be denied Communion.

“As Catholics we know that decisions about pregnancy are intimate, and no one has a right to interfere with a woman and her conscience, certainly not when it endangers her health or ends her life. As Catholics, we also know that while our faith informs our life and our decisions, we must respect that other people are also informed by their beliefs, whether from a religious tradition or other moral and ethical grounding. We cannot impose our beliefs on others through our actions or our laws, as this would be a serious departure from our Catholic understanding of and respect for the religious liberty of every person. Mrs. Pelosi stands on solid ground in her statement about Dr. Gosnell, and her convictions about her role as a Catholic in public life.

“To suggest that a condemnation of brutal crimes is a ‘grave sin’ that would require the extreme step of refusing a Catholic the Eucharist is disingenuous and wrong. The cause for scandal in the church here rests with the cardinal, not with the congresswoman.”

For more information, please read “Rights in the Church: Notes on Canon Law No. 2”.