Archbishop Raymond Burke was appointed to head the highest Vatican Court earlier this year. Before this appointment, Burke served as archbishop in the St. Louis diocese. During his tenure in St. Louis, Burke informed Catholic voters that by voting for a pro-choice candidate in the 2004 election they would be committing a “grave sin.” In 2007, he prohibited singer Sheryl Crow from performing at a benefit for the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital because she is a pro-choice advocate. And in 2008, he urged officials at Saint Louis University—a Catholic university run by Jesuits—to take disciplinary action against head basketball coach, Rick Majerus, after Majerus publicly supported rights to abortion and stem cell research at a campaign event for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Needless to say, Burke represents the religious Right of the United States Catholic Church.
Burke’s appointment as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura was a bittersweet moment for Catholic liberals in the United States. On one hand, he would stop terrorizing all the Catholics doing anything remotely progressive in his diocese and beyond. On the other hand, Burke’s power in the Catholic Church has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, this past weekend, Burke has shown that he still plans to flex his muscles to influence American politics.
In a September 27 interview with Avvenire, a daily Catholic newspaper sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference, Burke stated, “At this point the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitely into a ‘party of death’ because of its choices on bioethical questions… the party that helped our immigrant parents and grandparents better integrate and prosper in American society. But it is not the same anymore.” Burke reinforced his belief that Catholic politicians supporting the right to abortion should not be permitted to receive Communion.
So—according to Burke—based on their beliefs around sexual and reproductive rights the Democrats are the ‘party of death’—nevermind the Republican stance on the death penalty, war, economic systems that privilege the wealthy, discrimination based on gender and discrimination..