Next year’s follow-up Synod on the Family must take issues such as extra-marital cohabitation and Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics off the agenda, US Cardinal Raymond Burke said.
Burke, who has criticised Pope Francis’ handling of last month’s Synod on the Family, told 300 people at a conference in Limerick last Saturday that those issues had been a distraction at the meetings.
“Even within the Church there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy,” he said, and added: “We are engaged in a very great struggle and it strikes at the very heart of the Church.”
Burke, the former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, whom Pope Francis has recently moved to become Patron of the Order of Malta, criticised the confusion and error which he said became evident to the world during the synod. “The assembly, dedicated to the discussion of the pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation, found itself addressing in a confused way erroneous practices which contradict the Church’s constant teachings and practice regarding holy matrimony,” he said.
The cardinal said he was referring to practices “which would give access to the sacraments to those who are living in a public state of adultery, which would condone in some manner cohabitation outside of the sacrament of matrimony, and would purport to find elements of goodness in sexual relations between persons of the same sex.”
The interim report or relatio “made strikingly clear the gravity of the situation,” he suggested.
“The report, which lacked practically any consistent reference to the Magisterium of the Church, was a kind of manifesto – a kind of incitement to a new approach to fundamental issues of human sexuality in the Church – an approach that is a complete rupture from the Church’s tradition,” he said.
In his keynote address at the conference organised by the Catholic Voice newspaper and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, Burke ruled out any easing of the restriction on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, stating, “I fail to be able to comprehend how, if marriage is indissoluble and someone is living in a state contradicting this indissolubility of marriage, the person can be admitted to Holy Communion.”
He urged the Catholic faithful to write to the Pope, the secretary for bishops and whoever represents the Irish Church at the 2015 session to make their views known.
He said: “Society has gone even further in its affront to God and his law by claiming the name of marriage for liaisons between persons of the same sex.”
Other speakers at the conference were Fr Marcel Guarnizo, who in 2012 refused Communion to a lesbian attending her mother’s funeral in the archdiocese of Washington, and Mgr Michael Schmitz, who leads the institute in the US.
Speaking ahead of the conference to RTE News, Cardinal Burke said he would refuse Holy Communion to a Catholic politician who voted for same-sex marriage.
Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick opened the conference and concluded his address by reminding delegates that “people need to be accepted in the concrete circumstances of life”.