Sebelius nomination ‘source of greatest embarrassment,’ Archbishop Burke says

BurkeSebelius Kathleen Sebelius / Archbishop Burke

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services is "sad" and "the source of greatest embarrassment" because she has repeatedly betrayed her Catholic faith through her "well known" support for legal abortion, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has commented.

The archbishop, formerly of St. Louis, Missouri, is now Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. His duties in that office include ensuring that the Church operates correctly under canon law.

In a written interview with Thomas J. McKenna of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, Archbishop Burke remarked that the governor’s nomination to President Barack Obama’s Cabinet "saddens me on several scores."

"First of all, it is sad for our nation to have a person who favors the right to kill the unborn in the womb placed in charge of the federal office with responsibility for health and human services. No matter how good Governor Sebelius’ record regarding other human life concerns may be, if she is not committed to the safeguarding of human life from its very inception, she should not be entrusted with the questions of health and human services for our nation."

As a Roman Catholic, Gov. Sebelius’ appointment is "the source of the greatest embarrassment because she has publicly and repeatedly betrayed her Catholic faith, in the most fundamental tenet in the most fundamental tenet of the moral law, that is, the law to safeguard and foster human life from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death."

"Her position on the question of procured abortion is the source of the greatest scandal to Catholics and to all who uphold the natural moral law," he continued.

Additionally, Archbishop Burke said, the governor "obstinately remained in her moral error" despite being admonished by at least three of her bishops, including Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann.

He added that Archbishop Naumann had proceeded "in perfect accord" with canon law by trying to help Gov. Sebelius recognize and correct her "grave error."

"When she refused to do so, he had no choice but to remind her that the Church’s discipline requires that persons who publicly and obstinately remain in serious sin must be denied Holy Communion," he added.

"Archbishop Naumann acted with exemplary pastoral charity in the matter, protecting the Body and Blood of Christ from unworthy reception, preventing the governor from the commission of the most serious sin of sacrilege, and ending the great scandal caused by the governor’s unworthy reception of the Body and Blood of Christ," Archbishop Burke told Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

He said Archbishop Naumann was justified in his action, which also fulfilled "one of his most solemn duties as a pastor," that is, ensuring care of the Blessed Sacrament and the worthy reception of Holy Communion.

"He has spoken the truth with love. More than that cannot be asked of any shepherd of the flock," Archbishop Burke wrote.

Asked if other bishops in or near Washington, D.C. would be obliged to enforce Archbishop Naumann’s "sanction," Archbishop Burke explained that the Kansas City prelate did not impose a sanction but "simply made clear her canonical status in regards to the reception of Holy Communion anywhere."

"No Catholic who publicly and obstinately remains in serious sin can receive Holy Communion," he added.

Archbishop Naumann "only did what was his duty as Bishop" under canon law, Archbishop Burke remarked to Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

"Whether Governor Sebelius is in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or in any other diocese, she should not present herself for Holy Communion because, after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin."

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