Returning to Rome after addressing the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Archbishop Raymond F. Burke said in an interview that a Catholic who knew Obama’s "clearly announced" agenda on life issues and marriage could not have voted for him "in clear conscience."
The archbishop’s comments came in response to questions from Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online during his flight from Washington, D.C. to Rome.
In her interview, Lopez remarked that Archbishop Burke had seemingly made very clear that Catholic voters "collaborated with evil" when they voted for Obama.
If one is a Catholic who voted for Obama, she asked, "do you have to confess this now that Mexico City, embryo-destructive funding, among other things, have happened?"
The archbishop responded that if a Catholic "knowingly and deliberately" votes for a person who is in favor of "the most grievous violations of the natural moral law," then he has "formally cooperated in a grave evil and must confess his serious sin.
"Since President Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience."
During his campaign, President Obama said he was not in favor of same-sex "marriage" but he endorsed civil unions.
Archbishop Burke, who formerly headed the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. The office oversees the Roman Rota in hearing canonical appeals from dioceses around the world.
In other remarks in his interview with Lopez, the archbishop said that "consistent witness" of Catholics’ respect for the "inviolable dignity" of innocent human life and for the "integrity of marriage" can help change minds and hearts of those who do not see the wrongness of abortion or the need to safeguard marriage and the family from threats like same-sex "marriage."
In addition to prayer and fasting, he added, minds can also be changed by effectively communicating both the "most serious moral implications" of giving parents the right "to destroy the child they have conceived" and the implications of redefining the "fundamental nature" of marriage.
Asked about bishops’ actions toward self-described Catholic politicians who support legal abortion, Archbishop Burke said it was not his place to declare what a diocesan bishop should or should not be doing in a particular situation.
Those concerned about the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama as commencement speaker, he said, should make their concerns known in writing to Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins and Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend John M. D’Arcy. They should also write Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the office responsible in matters concerning Catholic universities.
In his other comments to Lopez, Archbishop Burke praised consecrated virgins as a "strong witness to the purity and selflessness with which we all should love one another" and as a "public witness to the love of Christ for all."
He said he was attracted by the possibility of directly serving Pope Benedict in his Vatican position. Asked to give his advice for his successor in St. Louis, Archbishop Robert Carlson, he declined. However, he noted he had congratulated the prelate.
Lopez noted that the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast audience was at its most supportive when he described the Notre Dame Obama invitation controversy as an "outrage." She asked the archbishop whether he worried whether his audience "waits for the headline-making applause lines" but misses the message about spiritual works and devotionals.
"The heart of my message was conversion of life; prayer and participation in the Sacraments; study and reflection; and action," Archbishop Burke said.
The "strong response" to his description of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama, he said, reflected "the degree to which faithful Catholics are profoundly scandalized by the proposed conferral of an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws upon a highly public figure who is pursuing so aggressively a program of procured abortion and same-sex marriage."