Vatican official attacks U.S. Democrats as “party of death”

By Reuters Staff
October 1, 2008

Senator Joe Biden with Catholic priest Zhang Depu near Beijing, 10 Aug 2001/poolVatican officials seldom single out political leaders who differ with the Church on issues like abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research. But now that the Vatican’s highest court is led by an American, the former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, we can expect things to get more explicit in Vatican City — at least when when it comes to U.S. politics.

Burke, who was named prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in June, told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire that the U.S. Democratic Party risked “transforming itself definitively into a party of death for its decisions on bioethical issues.” He then attacked two of the party’s most high profile Catholics — vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — for misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion.

He said Biden and Pelosi, “while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have presented Church doctrine on abortion in a false and tendentious way.”

Nancy Pelosi kisses Pope Benedict’s ring during his U.S. visit, 16 April 2008/Larry DowningPelosi drew U.S. bishops’ scorn for saying in a television interview last month that the Church itself had long debated when human life begins. Biden is a practicing Catholic who also supports abortion rights and analysts have said he could help woo wavering Catholics into Obama’s fold. Both argue that they cannot impose their religious views on others.

Burke said pro-life Democrats were “rare” and that it saddened him that the party that helped “our immigrant parents and grandparents” prosper in America had changed so much over the years.

Burke made headlines as archbishop of St. Louis for his public attacks on public figures who strayed from Catholic teaching. He suggested during the 2004 presidential campaign that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Catholic, should be denied communion because of his views on abortion. Several bishops said at the time they would not give him communion and the media staked out churches where he attended Mass to see if he received it.

“Lately, I’ve noticed that other bishops are coming to this position,” Burke told Avvenire, which is owned by the Italian bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Raymond Burke/Archdiocese of St. LouisCardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a letter in 2004 to American bishops restating the Church position that a priest must refuse to distribute communion to a Catholic politician who supported abortion rights. But Burke lamented that the letter was never distributed.

Burke’s criticism isn’t limited to Democrats. Last year, he accused singer Sheryl Crow of being “a high profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives” for defending a woman’s right to have an abortion and for being a proponent of stem cell research. He resigned as head of a children’s medical charity that featured the singer for a benefit concert.

Pope Benedict has been encouraging Catholic bishops to speak out more openly on public policy issues to make the Church’s voice heard. Any bets on when we’ll hear from Burke next?


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I am always amazed by those who say it is wrong or unethical to legislate ones’ religous views on others, and then equate that with being opposed to legalized abortion. Abortion is not a religious issue, any more than burglary, assault and battery, or perjury are religious issues. Yes, the Bible teaches “Thou shalt not lie” and “Though shalt not steal.” But that doesn’t mean that theft and perjury should be legal – beause we don’t want to “legislate” our “religious views” on others.

Abortion involves the taking of a human life. This is not a matter fo faith, but of scientific fact. just what, if not a human being, is the offspring of two human beings, created by procreation? It is not a “fetus” – it is a human being. It simply makes us feel less guilty calling unborn life a “fetus” – and it also helps that we do not actually see the child. That is precisely why those who support legalized abortion are so angry when photos of an abortion are publicized.

If a human being is legally declared dead when there is the absence of brainwaves and a heartbeat, why is a human being – who is growing and replicating cells – and has a heartbeat and brainwaves, not considered a human being simply because the child is in a mother’s womb?

When someone has sexual intercourse, they are inviting life to start and take hold. To allow the unborn child to be killed, because the child represents an inconvenience to those who sought the gratification of sex, is the epitome of evil. It is akin to child sacrifice at the alter of hedonism. We want to engage in sex without consequences. So, we call a living child a “fetus” and pretend it’s really just a “religious” issue. Being against abortion is no different than being against any other form of murder. By making murder illegal, we are not imposing a religious view on society – we are protecting innocent life. The same is true on the abortion question.

So, when someone like Biden says they are “personally opposed to abortion,” it begs the question – “why?” If it truly represents the taking of human life, then you should not simply be against it “personally,” you should adamantly demand that your government protect the innocent life.

Again, this isn’t a religious issue. It is a matter of fact and logic. And the phrase “abortion is murder” is not an article of faith – but simply a statement of fact.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

He’s only pointing out was is obvious to a lot of people.

It’s impossible to be anything other than a hypocrite when you are anti-war, anti-death penalty but pro-abortion.

All of the world’s wars, plus all of it’s executions, in a year don’t even add up to the number of kids that we murder in this country alone.

Republicans are also hypocrites when they support the aforementioned policies but they’re not even close to the amount of blood that the Democrats are swimming in.

…the fact that Democrats “celebrate” this and call it a “right” is all the more disturbing.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

For those catholics out there….YOU CAN’T BE BOTH A CATHOLIC AND PRO CHOICE….If you want to be pro-choice, leave the catholic church

Posted by Lisa Hutson | Report as abusive

Hey Michael Cecil, at least Republicans allow everybody a chance to be born, grow up, and then become a terrorist before wiping them off the face of the earth.

Democrats prefer murder in the womb, where you can’t hear the baby screaming. As long as you can’t HEAR the screams, its not really a baby at all.

Posted by sh | Report as abusive

Well it is about time these robed wonders show they have balls.. and not to little boys

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

So many things to address. Many people think taking religion out of society would bring peace. Look at Pol Pot, Stalin, Idi Amin. If you look at your own personal life, you do not live up to the standards you profess. You have lied, cheated, protected yourself for your own aims. This is what is known as “sin”. The catholic church is absolutely in it’s rights to point out that those who support abortion, support murder.
As far as a church losing it’s “tax status”, read the first admendment and you will see that Congress cannot interfere with the church. Also, the church answers to God. If you find that hard to swallow I would encourage you to look into the history of our country and see how many of the founders were ministers, held seminary degrees, that the Bible was used as a text book in schools, that the universities were based on the Bible.
To become more informed, I would encourage you to read the works of David Barton, historian. Or, check out

Posted by Terry Johnson | Report as abusive

good for him. i am glad to see someone speaking out about the Democrats. the party has changed.

Posted by mbviews | Report as abusive

I hope the democrats take a lesson from this. They are full of hate, greed and operate out of spite.

I know many democrats and republicans and I believe republican moral standards are by far more spiritual.

Posted by EMC | Report as abusive

Amendment 1 of The United States Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peacably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Nowhere in the United States Constitution is the mention of “separation of church and state”. That phrase and “freedom of religion”. are in the Federalist’s Papers. Nowhere is it stated “freedom from religion’.

Please tell me how Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Hillary, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Barack Obama can go into black churches and preach their politics, but a priest cannot condemn Catholic politicians who violate the tenets of the Church, yet want to partake in the sacraments.

Murder of the unborn my be legal, but is still murder. Abortion is an act that haunts a woman for life.

Posted by HW Simon | Report as abusive

The Church’s position on abortion is clear, and abortion is a non-negotiable issue to practicing Catholics who follow Church doctrine. Democrats can’t have it both ways. They are either pro life, in which case I as a Catholic can vote for them, or they are pro abortion, in which case I absolutely cannot vote for them. Either way is fine. What they can’t do is restate Catholic doctrine in an effort to convince people to vote for them. I understand that rubs some people the wrong way. Those people shouldn’t be Catholic. Again, no problem.

Posted by Stevie | Report as abusive

For those that are saying that if a politician helps to legislate a pro-life law that would be like imposing their religious beliefs onto others,

Do you feel the same way about other laws legislated by politicians such as laws against murder? Is that imposing their religious beliefs also?

Posted by Paul Christenson | Report as abusive

So, the Democratic party believes in killing kids before they come out and the Republican party believes in killing kids after they come out, ie the bombing of Iraq’s kids. And if the U.S. can go in and kill a million Iraqis, what is your problem with Iran nuking a million Americans? Your hypocrisy is astonishing to me. Why don’t we just stop killing altogether. As it is, we Americans are so without conscience, that we should just keep our mouth shut about the immorality of other nations.

Posted by Scandalon | Report as abusive

to cd walker, nice try but you still don’t quite have the understanding to make your argument….your reference to “thou shall not kill” is a misunderstanding you have of biblical translations. the better translation that would help you is that the literal meaning is “you shall not murder”. although no caring person would condone “murder” or “killing”, they are in fact two different things. to remove the fetus from the womb with a vacuum cleaner would be “murder”. to kill or be killed in war is “killing”. some simple minded people have a problem distinguishing from the two, i hope this helps you understand why your argument doesn’t make sense.

Posted by virg | Report as abusive

Bishop Burke – should stick to ‘Bishoping” – and STAY out of politics….any man who has allegedly ignored the sexual scandals of priests – sets no example in any way, shape or form – to set himself up and pontificate on the political situation in the United States.

Posted by Nancy | Report as abusive

frank, there are a LOT of organizations that should lose tax-exempt status by your definition. in the case of sierra club they just set up several subsidiaries under different status, like sierra club foundation, so they can ‘legally’ lobby the heck out of congress. so the church could just follow that model. anyways, who cares about the political system. democrats are a monopoly of news, views, and politics in the u.s. and there adherents are more dogmatic than any ‘religion’ on the planet. they will vote for comedians for senate, anything democrat voters will pull the lever for anyone with a d.

Posted by mbviews | Report as abusive

Should the Democrat Party force the removal of the tax-exempt status of the American Catholic Church, as they have been threatening for decades, because the Church condemns the slaughter of innocent human life in the womb, I shall be happy to make up the difference. So I say to the Democrat Party: BRING IT ON.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

This is why I don’t go to church anymore

Posted by bant | Report as abusive

I am confused. Almost all of the responders are trying to argue from a bad position. Burke did not say the Democratic
Party is the “party of death”but they “RISKED transforming themselves”. So if we are going to have a debate, let us be sure that we are on the same page.

Posted by Ervin Foulk | Report as abusive

Yes, indeed. The Republican party represents life, as long as the body is a US citizen. If you happen to be an Iraqi citizen, then your life is deemed ‘acceptable collateral damage’.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

Using the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” as a means of stereotyping every soldier in combat as a murderer is not legitimate. Just war theory by St. Thomas Aquinas clarifies what is in reality a very sensitive issue. Our fighting against terrorism began as a just war, and at this point, it would be morally irresponsible for the United States to up and leave. The situation left in our wake would be far more dangerous than the even extremely dangerous situation that existed when we entered Afghanistan and Iraq.

But also, I do not deny that the idea of abortion in cases of rape is very sensitive as well. What the Church does recognize though is that there are alternatives to killing a child because it is inconvienent or even against one’s own will. Even in the case of rape, the moral justification for having an abortion is very weak and does not carry much water.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

For those of you who can’t understand why the Catholic Church would take the stance on abortion that they do, maybe you should read your Bible and expressly Luke 17:2 and Ephesians 2:1-3 for a better understanding on the Catholic opinion on other life issues. Maybe if we spent more time reading the Bible and less time listening to the media opine and whine, we as a country facing financial doom would be living in better times. Humble yourselves America!

Posted by Marie | Report as abusive

For all the indignant liberals who are whining about the position of the Catholic Church, vis a vis it’s own members, NOONE cares what you think. a) it’s none of your business. 2) your tortured “logic” that purportedly points out contradictions in Catholic positions illustrates your ignorance of Catholic teaching as well as 3) the haphazard way you call upon logic and principles when it suits you, and ignore them when it doesn’t. 4) your moral equivalency is important only to you and simply underscores your absence of judgement. 5) your moral relevancy simply reflects your LACK of VALUES. and 6) you consistently argue about the right to choose to kill unborn children; save your breath and just explain your position to God when the time comes.

Posted by Marcy | Report as abusive

There has never been a Constitutional separation of church and state. Only a requirement that congress shall pass no law establishing a state religion, in fact it requires a free expression thereof.
If the dems want to think they can be good Catholics and still vote for abbortion, they are only fooling themselves.
I don’t see how any Good Catholic could vote for a democrat any more than why 95% of blacks vote for them when the dems were the ones that fought against their civil rights, but the dems are the ones that give the hand outs to keep them dependent on government support and not being able to make it on their own.

Posted by Geoduck | Report as abusive

Kudos to Archbishop Burke for speaking out on this fundamental moral issue. Catholics in public office who publicly put themselves in opposition to clear church doctrine are not Catholics in good standing and should be barred from the sacraments. It is a simple matter of church discipline. If such persons persist in their public positions contrary to the faith, they should simply leave the church. No big deal; the church can get along without them!


Posted by John Barone | Report as abusive

this makes my blood boil. i’ll answer simply citing a well-argued piece in the national catholic reporter by a civil and canon lawyer, arguing that a pro-life perspective gives insufficient breadth for judging how to vote in this election. the bishops themselves have pointed out the importance of weighing a candidate’s positions on just war and torture in addition to abortion. obama has opposed torture and the iraq war, mccain has supported them. extremists like burke distort the argument made by his own colleagues in favor of an out-of-kilter exclusivity of focus on abortion–an issue on which obama disagrees with the church in supporting choice, but on which he agrees on issues such as finding ways to decrease the number of abortions. so much for simply citing the article. when will the right wing in the church hierarchy stop trying to bludgeon the rest of the world with humanae vitae, and recognize that it serves as an obstacle to useful dialogue and progress?

i’m tired of it. the reason stem cell research goes somewhere is because pluripotent cells are human! :: that is why we scientists see their potential. get over it: existence precedes essence. the only difference between this and slavery is you could see the effects of slavery…. you don’t know them so then they are not there…okay democrats…will give you what you want…abort your kids.. i’m tired of it!
i’m tired of stupidity reigning over this country… end your potential…help global warming etc, etc, etc…

Posted by hook | Report as abusive

Greg…. The argument is that the Dems are being targeted by a group that at one time supported the Nazi Party. Thats right The Vatican Supported the Nazi’s. I suppose you will undoubtedly say its not true but then again thats all you do is say “no they didn’t” about everything. If the republicans can wage war where ever they want and kill people in the name of “security” then they are the true abortionists. Killing people that are fully coherent and not undeveloped fetuses the have not truly known life. They Kill the fully concise in the name of God. They are the ones that will be in hell if there is one. Have fun in hell greg!

Posted by rich caporiccio | Report as abusive

I thought it was the Islamists that learned at Hitler’s knee to be Fascists? How many children did Khomeni send into the mine fields in Iran-Iraq war? How women are buried alive or stoned in Iran each year for trivial “crimes”?

Posted by moi61537 | Report as abusive


Biden is a liar and I cannot stand Cafeteria Catholics. Abortion is 100% evil and he doesn’t even have the guts to stand with his own faith.

Posted by San | Report as abusive

Raymond Burke is a loon, and as a Catholic it disgusts me to see the Church getting involved in politics like this. For one, people like Burke don’t seem to make a big deal about deaths in unnecessary wars like Iraq. For two, they shouldn’t bring up political parties and who their congregations should be voting for. Otherwise, they should lose their tax exempt status.

Posted by bigphilly | Report as abusive

Michael, you are so far off base I don’t know where to start. First of all, there has been no suggestion that the US should wage nuclear war with Iran. Secondly, you equivocate the taking of innocent life to that of legal self defense and warfare. What crime do unborn children commit that deserves the death penalty? The democrat party has the blood of millions of children on it’s hands.

Posted by Russell | Report as abusive

B careful Dems, the Cath-hurch also supports your open border views, so while your going off the handle on this statement from the Church, don’t make them to mad, they have tons of power that was all on your side until your religion hating-yet-pandering-to Liberal “Leaders?” started abusing the issue.

That’swhat happens when you pretend to be the “Party of All, yet none.”

they are all about the illegal alien aid, which meets your Socialist America agenda, yet they disagree with you on abortion……with friends like Democrats, who needs enemies???

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

The Democrats do not have the high moral ground when it comes to war.

Anyone who gives the impression that Obama will NOT commit our armed forces to a conflict is either a liar or very foolish. If Obama is president, there will be plenty of scenarios where his advisors will lead him into a conflict that would prove unpopular.

Besides, what is your beef with the Catholic Church politically? Are you a buffoon? The US Catholic Church is riddled with social justice hypocrisy which you should just love. 47 years and I know more devout liberal democrats in the church than conservatives. Get a grip. My beef with the church is in regards to this social justice crap which very literally uses the threat or actual use of violence by law enforcement to take property from one citizen and give it to another. For the US Church it is hypocrisy, for the Democrats is further proof of moral bankruptcy.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Dave, old man. You are conflating multiple issues and have obviously been listening to the worst anti-Christian publicists.

First, there is nothing in orthodox Christianity or church canons, or even the Gospels, that says go out and commit unprovoked violence. Much as many leaders and individuals have abused religion for their own ends, that hardly nullifies any truth or benefits of the institution. That is like claiming the terrible behavior of Congress or the Clintons somehow refutes the institution of democracy and the Presidency.

Second, the Crusades were a pinprick inresponse to hundreds of years of Islamic expnasion (over formerly Christian and peaceful territories) and direct attacks against Europe. If anything, they were a rather anemic response. Even Islamic extremists have stopped dragging that one out. Third, as you seem to want to put much of the problem at the doorsteop of “the Church”, the religious wars of Europe right after the Reformation involved Catholics and Protestants. And many of those battles were fueled as much by poitically ambitious rulers as anything. And last we checked, “the Church” had very little to do with Islam and submission to Allah.

Last, the wars and genocide in the name of secular-atheist ideologies in the 19th and 20th centuries make the numerical death toll from anything else pale by comparison (Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Nazism,…). So by your logic, we should silence all secular movements. Your argument is self-refuting.

Good day!
“What’s so hysterical about that is that the Church is responsible for more death over the last few thousand years than any other institution.

Look up all the religious wars that have claimed millions of lives. From the Crusades to modern day, war and death created in the name of God, Allah, and other religions haven taken a huge toll on human life”

Posted by james | Report as abusive


Posted by DIANA | Report as abusive

How is it that any “church” gets a tax deduction when they blatantly stick their nose into the country’s politics? The Catholic Church needs to lose their tax free status just as should Immans at Islamic Mosques, or Rabbis at Synagogues, etc. that rant about their political opinions.

Posted by David G. | Report as abusive


Posted by rich caporiccio | Report as abusive

They are a death cult,no doubt about it,and they get elected on the backs of dead soldiers,dead infants,natural disasters,and who knew the stock market crash(Which They Created) would be A boon for them? hmmm..

As for Churches,is you do not start asserting yourself,you’ll be run outa town..Hollywood has launched an anti church film that could add to the death cult Liberalism even more..YOU GUYS NEED TO BE LOUDER!

Posted by Kelly | Report as abusive

“more death over the last few thousand years”

And yes, it’s been around 2,000. Forget your history, maybe get your millennia straight?

Posted by james | Report as abusive

Please. Let’s take the emotion out of the discussion and look at the facts and the actual teachings of the church. There are so many misconceptions.

Good people can debate whether or not the War on Terror is just or the best way to help the needy. Science shows the unborn child has a heart beat at 22 days – that is not debatable. With care and nurishment that unborn child will make it. Just like you and I – if someone withheld our care and nurishment, we to would die. Do our mothers have the right to end our lives because we may be inconvienent?

All this stems from the relativism. Relativism just does not work. Choosing your own morality does not work. What if some crazy dictator came to power and decided based on his own ideals that all people of a certain ethincity or faith were not fit to survive and subsequently exterminate them? Wait, that happened, his name was Hilter. He dehumanized the Jews which allowed his soldiers to commit the atrocities of WWII. The same is happening to our unborn.

The right to life is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence – remember that old thing?

Posted by TZ | Report as abusive

Ah, here come the drudgies, right on time!

“Choose life – receive blessings. Choose death receive cursings.” Holy Bible, Old Testament. Wolverine

It’s time to stand up to the fascist theocracy of the Catholic Church. Just as they imprisoned Galileo for speaking the truth, the Catholic church today imposes itself on the secular world as though it is an authority. It’s time for Catholics to break away and challenge this autocratic, unAmerican pseudo religion. How dare the Vatican call the democrats the party of death. The blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents are on the Vatican and the pope for their support for the true party of death: the neofascist neocon Republican party.

choose the McCain and go into foreclosure and loose your 401k!!!

Posted by rich caporiccio | Report as abusive

Yah, Its to bad the Democrats use to be a good party that really beleived in helping people. Hell even my Grandpa switch over to the Republican party last year and he’s from Arkansas??? The liberals have destroyed that party. No morals, anything anti-American is praised, spit on the Military, follow the Communist Manufesto, Tax the middle class out of existence even though they pay 88% of all of the taxes now??? Make government so hugh that it will take away our freedoms and Liberty. This true if you follow a History book and can read. Oh, and kill innocent babies. I know save the caribou, the ozone, but human beings we just can’t let that happen??? People’s Republic of San Fran. Pelosi has the worst Congress in History. I’d say the Democrats have dishonored themsleves and our a disgrace to our founding fathers and what they wanted. I have read it and it is true. How sad!

Posted by chris | Report as abusive


You and the others took the hook. Who said that saving the life of a child is a religious issue? There are more laws in this country to protect the eggs of Eagles than to protect the unborn. So, are the eagle protectors religious wackos? The Bible says “do not steal”, “Do not Murder”, “Do Not Cheat” and our society has chosen to put it in the laws should we abolish them also? Oddly enough most of the teachings of the church are just plain common sense.

Posted by marshall | Report as abusive

Amen to Prefect Burke for standing up for Life and showing it for what it is: EVIL!You dimwits who attempt to equate Iran w/abortion are locos!An innocent baby killed in the womb(and sometimes out of the womb)has no resemblance to our defending our own Country b/c WE were attacked on 911 or did you,conveniently,forget that! DUH!Please try to use the brains the Good Lord gave you or they may rot further from misuse and we wouldn’t want that,would we????

Anyone who votes democrap is a contract killer.

Posted by Wayne | Report as abusive