Bishop Bars Pro-Abortion Lawmakers From Communion

Decree Follows La Crosse Prelate's Letter to 3 Politicians

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin, JAN. 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Catholic politicians who vote to support abortion or euthanasia may no longer receive Communion in the La Crosse Diocese until they publicly renounce their positions on those issues, says Bishop Raymond Burke.



"I hereby call upon Catholic legislators, who are members of the faithful in the Diocese of La Crosse, to uphold the natural and divine law regarding the inviolable dignity of all human life. To fail to do so is a grave public sin and gives scandal to all the faithful," Bishop Burke wrote in a decree published Thursday.

"Therefore, in accord with the norm of can. 915, Catholic legislators who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion," he stated.

"They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such time as they publicly renounce their support of these unjust practices," the decree said.

The La Crosse bishop posted the decree on the diocese's Web site after previously sending private letters to three Catholic lawmakers, urging them to vote more in line with the faith they profess.

Referring to the Vatican's 2002 "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," a 2002, Bishop Burke wrote: "His Holiness Pope John Paul II, upholding the constant teaching of the Church, has frequently reminded us that 'those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or vote for them.'"

Bishop Burke noted that it was his duty to take a stand in this matter, quoting from the Code of Canon Law, No. 383. "As Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, I am bound to be 'solicitous for all the faithful entrusted to [my] care.'"

He also referred to the U.S. bishops' document "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics" to further explain the need for his actions.

"With respect to the fundamental responsibility of safeguarding and promoting the respect for human life, it is my duty to 'explain, persuade, correct and admonish those in leadership positions who contradict the Gospel of life through their actions and policies,'" he wrote.

The bishop implored the faithful to pray that the three local legislators have a change of heart about their public stance on life issues.

"I ask for the prayers of all the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and of all the people of good will within the Diocese of La Crosse that Catholic legislators who have promoted procured abortion and euthanasia, with the help and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may undergo a conversion of heart in this most grave matter, so that human life may be protected and fostered in the greatest way possible and these legislators may be admitted once more to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion," Bishop Burke wrote.

Bishop Burke is scheduled to be installed as archbishop of St. Louis later this month.