November 2007 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A Roman Catholic bishop is once again garnering attention for calling on priests nationwide to deny communion to politicians who support reproductive rights.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, Mo., argued in late September that it’s a mortal sin for priests to give communion to “the unworthy.” Writing for an influential Catholic publication read in seminaries, he insisted that if a priest “stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices, and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teachings ring hollow.”

Burke also told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he would deny communion to Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani who supports reproductive rights.         

During the 2004 election cycle, Burke declared that he would not provide communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. In his recent article in Periodica de re Canonica, the Religion News Service reported, Burke writes that ministers are “held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.”

Responding to Burke’s comments, Giuliani told the Associated Press, “Archbishops have a right to their opinion, you know. There’s freedom of religion in this country. There’s no established religion, and archbishops have a right to their opinion. Everybody has a right to their opinion.”