Burke apolgizes for remarks critical of U.S. bishops

by Thomas C. Fox

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Burke (CNS photo)

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, issued an apology today to “my brother bishops” for statements he made earlier this month that were released yesterday in a videotape at the National Press Club in Washington.

Update: Read Loverde’s and Wuerl’s repsonse

In that video, released by anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, Burke chided bishops for failing to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who back legalized abortion.

He also said President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.
Burke said the failure of some bishops to stand up by withholding Communion is “weakening the faith of everyone.

He said "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

EARLIER STORY: Archbishop Burke chides U.S. bishops on abortion (including transcript of videotape interview with Randall Terry.)

Watch the Terry interview of Archbishop Burke (two parts)
In Burke’s statement of apology he said that Terry and some of his associates had visited him in Rome and had asked to videotape an interview “to share with pro-life workers for the purpose of their encouragement.” The interview was conducted on Mar. 2.

“Sadly, Mr. Terry has used the videotape for another purpose which I find most objectionable,” the Burke statement went on to say.

“First, Mr. Terry issued a media advisory which gave the impression that I would be physically present at the press conference during which he played the videotape, when, in fact, I was in Rome.

“Second, I was never informed that the videotape would become part of a press conference.

“Third, I gave the interview as a Bishop from the United States to encourage those engaged in the respect life apostolate, not as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

“Fourth, I was never informed that the videotape would be used as part of a campaign of severe criticism of certain fellow bishops regarding the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.

“If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.

He then said: “I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly, to my brother bishops.”

Terry, the former leader of Operation Rescue, has initiated a campaign to lobby Vatican officials to remove U.S. Catholic bishops who were not doing enough to stop abortions.

He called for the removal of Bishop Loverde of Arlington and Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

Among other U.S. prelates singled out by Terry for “rejecting church teachings” were Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony and the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Terry specifically accused them of not denying Communion to certain Catholic politicians.

"One of the reasons we are here is to specifically request the transfer of Bishop Loverde of Arlington and Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC," Terry was quoted as saying at the time.

Terry converted to Catholicism in 2005

His videotaped interview, shown at the press club, lasted 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, organizers of the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast announced March 26 that Burke will deliver the keynote address at this year's breakfast, which will be held on Friday, May 8.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be guest speaker at the event. Last year’s speaker was then-President George W. Bush.

UPDATE: In a March 26 telephone interview to respond to the statement, Terry told Catholic News Service he had nothing but positive things to say about Archbishop Burke, but also said it was made clear to the archbishop that the videotaped interview would be aired on television and radio.

"In the archbishop's defense, I didn't think to tell him I would be distributing a transcript of the interview," Terry said. "But it was made clear to him that it would be made available to the public."

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