Burke’s speech kicks off Celebrate Life Week

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke made his first appearance at
Saint Louis University on Tuesday night in the Busch Student
Center, serving as an early kickoff to Students for Life’s annual
Celebrate Life Week.

His speech, “The Sanctity of Human Life,” focused on the respect
that human life must be given, under any circumstance.

“Respect for human life is the foundation of our lives,” Burke
said to a crowd of about 200 students, faculty and staff.

He explained that this respect is absolute; it is never right to
take another human life. The only exception comes when, in
protecting life, one is forced to take a life.

Burke commented on how law is interpreted by the courts, which
say that it is just to take a human life, even the life of the
completely defenseless–the unborn. According to Burke, not all
human life issues have the same weight when it comes to moral
gravity. It is worse to take the life of someone unable to defend
themselves than to take the life of someone who can fight back.

“In society … we must recognize the graver evil of procured
abortion,” Burke said. “If the person is not even permitted to be
born, there is no respect for that human life.”

Burke also spoke on the idea of just war, saying that with
regards to respect for life, nuclear warfare could never be
justified.

Burke also addressed issues such as capital punishment, calling
it just only when it is used to protect life. “We should not be
surprised that we have the most violent society in history,” Burke
said. “Children are growing up learning to be violent. The
principle of self-defense was never intended to permit
vengeance.”

Near the end of his speech, he also denounced cloning and
stem-cell research. The question-and-answer portion of the evening
raised the temperature a bit, as more controversial issues were
brought to the floor. The archbishop, who in February declared that
he would not offer the Eucharist to Sen. John Kerry if he were to
approach Burke for the sacrament, defended his decision.

“I considered over and over the scandal caused by politicians
who said they were devout Catholics and supported abortion,” Burke
said. “I believe that in such circumstances it is necessary for the
Church to state her belief that this politician is not in line with
the Church.” Anyone who publicly supports abortion “should be
publicly admonished from receiving Communion.”

“Clearly, not everyone has been thrilled with what I did at La
Crosse. I can say to you, with my conscience as a shepherd of the
flock, my only regret is that it took me so long to do it.”

Another hot topic, homosexuality, was presented as a question to
Burke.

“Human sexuality is essentially ordered to the generation of
human life,” Burke responded. “God made me sexual for the purpose
of the unit of love with a person of the opposite sex to create new
life. The homosexual act is sterile. To use genital activity to
express affection for a person of the same sex is wrong.”

Burke, 55, succeeded Cardinal Justin Rigali, and was installed
on Jan. 26, 2004.

Celebrate Life Week officially begins next week, with the Mass
for Life Sunday, April 18, at 10 p.m. in St. Francis Xavier College
Church. Other events during the week include a festival in the Quad
from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday April 19, and a prayer vigil at
Planned Parenthood at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.