ST. LOUIS (AP) Archbishop Raymond Burke sparked a national debate earlier this year by announcing he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Now, he says there is no justification for voters to back a candidate supporting abortion rights.
In a pastoral letter, Burke acknowledged that voters often must choose among candidates who do not fully uphold moral law as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. But he wrote that ''there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as legal marriage.''
Burke issued the letter, ''On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good,'' last Friday in response to requests from parishioners and to clarify his previous statements on voting. Burke is among a few U.S. bishops who have said they would withhold Communion from Kerry, who is Catholic, because the presidential nominee supports abortion rights.
Burke said it was wrong for Catholics to argue that a candidate's position on human rights, war or the death penalty were of equal importance to abortion. Opposition to abortion comes from the church's earliest teachings on preserving human life, while theologians continue to disagree over when using the death penalty or waging war are justified.
Burke also wrote that same-sex marriage sanctions ''gravely immoral acts'' and undermines the ''truth of marriage ... namely that it is an exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman, which of its very nature cooperates with God in the creation of new human life.''
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