Bishops, Catholic leaders and people committed to a pro-life cause are glad that La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke disciplined Catholic politicians who support abortion in December, said Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.
Archbishop Dolan, a firm pro-life supporter, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that he was happy that his fellow bishop put the issue back on the front burner.
“This [pro-life] is a principle that we can't waffle on,” Archbishop Dolan told the Journal Sentinel, after celebrating a mass for life with several hundred people in Gesu Church on the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “This is … the premier cause of social justice in America today.”
The letters that Bishop Burke sent to three Catholic Wisconsin politicians made national headlines in December and sparked debate about how politicians are called to live their faith while in office. In his letters, Burke warned politicians, who supported abortion, that they were endangering their spiritual lives and scandalizing others if they persisted in supporting abortion rights.
One month later, Jan.8, Bishop Burke published a letter, telling Catholic politicians in his diocese who support abortion and euthanasia not to receive Communion, and ordered his priests not to give it to them.
Two weeks later, the American Life League launched a campaign to urge other bishops to follow Bishop Burke's lead. The ad campaign that ran Jan. 22 was titled "The Way of La Crosse."
“We've got to be much more vigorous in promoting the pro-life cause with everybody,” Archbishop Dolan told the Journal Sentinel. “It bothers me if any politician, Catholic or not, is for abortion. Because in my mind, we're talking about a civil right, we're not talking about a matter of Catholic Church discipline. We can't allow the noble pro-life cause to be reduced to a denominational issue.
Archbishop Dolan said that, looking back at history, the U.S. bishops’ stance on slavery “wasn't a good one.” He said the bishops missed an opportunity to be prophetic.
“And I guess that's something we bishops have to ask ourselves now,” he said. “Are we missing an opportunity to be prophetic?”
A task force of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is expected to propose guidelines for bishops on the issue this fall.