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Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the new 'John Fisher'

© Barbara Kralis 2004
Catholic Online 2004

Archbishop Burke is disappointed that Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop Gregory withheld Cardinal Ratzinger’s Memo at the Denver meeting

August 5, 2004

Recently, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Bishop, D. D., J.C.L., of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, ‘the new John Fisher for our times,’[i] granted this writer and Catholic Online an exclusive interview.

You may remember that on January 8, 2004, Burke, then Bishop of the La Crosse diocese, promulgated a ‘canonical notification’ based on Canon Law 915.  [ii]

In other words, Bishop Burke, a doctor of canon law, [iii]imposed sacramental disciplines or regulations concerning the unworthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

He did not need a filibustering ‘Bishops’ Task Force on the doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life’ to decide for him how to admonish the manifest, obstinate, persistent sinners.  Archbishop Burke knew he must stop the sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist and the scandal to his faithful flock.

When the diocesan bishops ignore enforcing Canon Law, they are giving license to all manifest sinners to commit Eucharistic sacrilege and cause grave scandal to the faithful.  [iv]

Granting this interview while away on ‘vacation,’ Archbishop Burke very kindly answered six questions.

These questions addressed the confusion and misinformation caused by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and USCCB President Bishop Gregory during the June 2004 USCCB meeting in Denver.

In particular, these six questions were asked Archbishop Burke regarding a memorandum addressed to Cardinal McCarrick, chair of the USCCB’s ‘Task Force’ committee by Cardinal Ratzinger and to Bishop Gregory. 

It is well for us to remember that in his memorandum entitled ‘Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles,’ Cardinal Ratzinger said without ambiguity:

“The minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it”[v] when warning and counsel given to the manifest sinner “have not had their effect.”

Question:  Dear Archbishop Burke, regarding Cardinal Ratzinger’s June 2004 memorandum, were the contents of the memo made known to you and the other bishops at the Denver meeting?

Archbishop Burke:  “It certainly was not made known to me and I do not believe it was given to the other bishops.  Cardinal McCarrick referred to the memorandum.  We were told that, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, the application of the Canon 915 was up to the prudent judgment of each bishop.  The text of the memorandum would have been very helpful at the meeting in Denver.  Knowing now about the memo, I am disappointed it was not given to us at the meeting of the Bishops’ Conference,” said Archbishop Burke.

Question:  The Bishops’ Denver Statement reads:

“Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.” 

Does this mean that one Bishop can deny Senator John Kerry Holy Communion and another Bishop can give Kerry Communion and both Bishops are correct?

Archbishop Burke:  “No, in fact, Canon 915 must be applied.  It does not give an option.  Canon 915 says that those persons who obstinately persist in grave manifest sin must be denied the Eucharist.  I strongly believe that if a bishop has spoken to someone who obstinately persists in grave manifest sin and he still presents himself for Holy Communion, he should be refused.”

Question:  Cardinal McCarrick received a letter dated July 9, 2004, from Cardinal Ratzinger saying:

“The ‘Statement’ is very much in harmony with the memorandum’s general principles, ‘Worthiness to receive Holy Communion,’ sent as a fraternal service – to clarify the doctrine of the Church on this specific issue – in order to assist the American Bishops in their related discussion and determinations.”

Is it your understanding that Cardinal Ratzinger agreed that some ‘ministers of Holy Communion’ should admit John Kerry and that some should not admit him?

Archbishop Burke:  “That is not my ...

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