Burke may be the face of Catholic conservatism

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By DAVID GIBSON • Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY • When some American Catholics worry that the hierarchy is tilting toward the Republican Party, or taking the church back to the 19th century (or earlier), they often point to Cardinal Raymond Burke as Exhibit A.

That’s understandable, because love him or loathe him — and few are on the fence — Burke’s many pronouncements on politics and the culture wars have given both fans and critics plenty of ammunition for their respective views.

Back when he was archbishop of St. Louis in 2004, for instance, Burke touched off a fierce debate by declaring that Catholic politicians such as John Kerry who support abortion rights should be denied Communion.

Voters who supported them were in grave peril, too, he added. He later said former New York Mayor Rudy Guliani, a Republican, who was running for president and supported abortion rights, should also be denied Communion. …

Another of his U.S. protégés, Bishop Robert Finn of Missouri, was found guilty in September of covering up for a priest suspected of child abuse — the first bishop ever convicted in the long history of the clergy abuse scandal. When asked to comment about Finn at a September meeting with journalists, Burke demurred. “It wouldn’t be proper,” he said.

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