Archbishop Raymond Burke has apologized to Bishops for a statement that he made that was released by Randall Terry the president of Operation Rescue. Archbishop Raymond Burke, who now leads the Vatican supreme court, said two controversial statements on videotape when he said that President Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries. He also stated that parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.
"It is weakening the faith of everyone," Burke said. "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."
Terry, for his part has been on a crusade that calls the church to oust bishops who think that to refuse someone communion would be to politicize the Eucharist. He used Burke's comments in a very public way--something that Burke thought was merely going to be released to a more private audience apparently.
From his apology:
In Burke’s statement of apology he said that Terry and some of his associates had visited him in Rome and had asked to videotape an interview “to share with pro-life workers for the purpose of their encouragement.” The interview was conducted on Mar. 2.
“Sadly, Mr. Terry has used the videotape for another purpose which I find most objectionable,” the Burke statement went on to say.
“First, Mr. Terry issued a media advisory which gave the impression that I would be physically present at the press conference during which he played the videotape, when, in fact, I was in Rome.
“Second, I was never informed that the videotape would become part of a press conference.
“Third, I gave the interview as a Bishop from the United States to encourage those engaged in the respect life apostolate, not as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
“Fourth, I was never informed that the videotape would be used as part of a campaign of severe criticism of certain fellow bishops regarding the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.
“If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.
He then said: “I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly, to my brother bishops.”
Somebody is lying here. Yesterday Tom Gannam of the Chicago Tribune ran this story which states:
"Terry conducted the interview as part of his campaign to persuade the church to oust American bishops who allow abortion rights backers to receive Communion. He said in a phone interview that Burke knew the goal of the campaign and that the interview would be distributed."
I would say that Terry is the one lying here, but regardless, the Vatican really needs a new PR department. Who allows someone to put comments on videotape without a release form and without knowing the purpose of the video? Archbishop Burke as a good lawyer, just might have a good case against Mr. Terry.
Or is this public feud exactly what these men want to happen to draw more attention to their cause--a shrewd use of the media to be sure--but perhaps we give too much credit here.
For the record, I think it is up to the individual as to whether they should present themselves for communion or not. I do think that the Bishops have a responsibility to speak with these public figures to persuade them to not hold these policies and perhaps even to ask them not to present themselves for communion if they have no plans to change their ways--but to publicly refuse someone communion is not something I think we should be promoting.