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The Enduring Wisdom of Cardinal Raymond Burke

By Judie Brown

To many in the pro-life movement—and to Catholics in general—Cardinal Raymond Burke has long been a hero because of his clear teaching and his commitment to truth. If it were not for him and the encouragement of our spiritual advisor, Father James Buckley, FSSP, American Life League would never have begun the Canon 915 campaign.

Recently Cardinal Burke reminded us:

Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which repeats the perennial and unchanging teaching of the Church, provides: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” The denial of Holy Communion is not an ecclesiastical penalty but the recognition of the objectively unworthy state of a person to approach to receive Holy Communion. The discipline contained in can. 915 safeguards the sanctity of the most sacred reality in the Church, the Holy Eucharist, keeps the person who obstinately perseveres in grave sin from committing the additional most grievous sin of sacrilege by profaning the Body of Christ, and prevents the inevitable scandal which results from the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

It is this reference to scandal that comes to mind when observing the current behavior of President Biden, who continues to receive the body of Christ even though he is a public advocate for abortion, contraception, and homosexual acts. One surmises that Biden thinks he is above the laws of God, the precepts of the Church, and certainly his obligations as a Catholic.

It is a challenge to refrain from using pejorative language to describe this kind of behavior, but at the same time we do not have to look that far to see that many among us are a bit tetched these days.

In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, for example, folks have passed a resolution granting the same rights to nature that are ascribed to human beings. In other words, the tree in your yard has the same rights that you do if you happen to reside in Milwaukee County!

As we do, Cardinal Burke would take issue with such inanity. He has written, “We are citizens of our country, and our duty to society is to witness to the moral law, which is the prerequisite for peace in our life together.”

And that is precisely what is needed, not just at this moment but every day. Human beings were created to know, love, and serve God and to be His witnesses among our fellow citizens. It is our duty to point out the facts, including that man is not equal to flowers, animals, or other products of nature.

The word of God teaches in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

Human beings yearn for truth, and that is what makes Cardinal Burke’s wisdom and courage so vital in our time.

Cardinal Burke’s love of Christ has been an inspiration to many of us for a long time. As he recently wrote regarding living in service of justice and love, “In a time of crisis, both within the Church and in civil society, it is essential that our service of justice be firmly rooted in the truth of our life in Christ in the Church, Who is the Good Shepherd teaching, sanctifying, and disciplining us in the Church.”

It is this love of Christ that best defines Cardinal Burke. It is his commitment to protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege that inspires us to fight for this truth as well. This is why we praise God for the enduring wisdom of Cardinal Raymond Burke.