Here is a significant pronouncement by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, as quoted yesterday in an article by Fr. John Flynn, L.C . (Zenit.org):
Within the Catholic world, a divisive issue in the religion and politics debate is how to treat Catholic politicians who are manifestly pro-abortion. A recent contribution to the question came from Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, in an essay published in Volume 96 of the canon-law journal Periodica de Re Canonica.The article, titled "The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin," noted the differences in opinion, including among bishops themselves, over whether support for anti-life legislation should disqualify a politician from receiving Communion.
After a detailed analysis of Church teaching on the question of Communion and those in grave sin, Archbishop Burke concludes that "a person who obstinately remains in public and grievous sin is appropriately presumed by the Church to lack the interior bond of communion, the state of grace, required to approach worthily the reception of the Holy Eucharist."A consistent public support of policies that are in grave violation of moral law, he pointed out, can indeed be classified as "gravely sinful."
The archbishop clarified, however, that denying Communion in these circumstances should not be interpreted as a penal sanction against the person, but rather it is concerned with respect for the Eucharist.
The United States, Archbishop Burke commented, is a society that "canonizes" radical individualism and relativism, thus making it very difficult to apply sanctions such as denying Communion. Notwithstanding these difficulties, if a bishop or priest preaches Church teaching on life matters, but does nothing when a Catholic who publicly supports anti-life legislation comes to receive Communion, "then his teaching rings hollow," Archbishop Burke judged.