By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl and Arlington, Va., Bishop Paul Loverde will attend neither the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. on Friday nor the accompanying Mass tomorrow night. The featured speaker at the breakfast and the celebrant at the Mass is Archbishop Raymond Burke, who recently made some very public comments criticizing Wuerl and Loverde.
In a recent videotaped interview, Burke implicitly reproached Donald Wuerl and Loverde for giving communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. Many of those politicians worship in their jurisdictions. “It is weakening the faith of everyone,” Burke said in the interview. “It’s giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion.”
But Washington archdiocese spokesperson Susan Gibbs said today that Wuerl’s absence from the event has nothing to do with Burke’s recent remarks. The breakfast events were scheduled late, and Wuerl had already committed to attend a teacher recognition dinner on Thursday night and has meetings Friday morning, she said. Same with Loverde, said his spokesperson Joelle Santolla. Loverde has a confirmation Thursday night and meetings Friday.
Relations are said to be cool between Wuerl and Burke. Burke, a former St. Louis bishop who now heads the Vatican supreme court, later apologized for his remarks, saying the interview he made with anti-abortion activist Randall Terry used out of context, although he did not retract his comments.
The outspoken Burke has long advocated for bishops to deny communion to public officials who defy the church’s anti-abortion stance. Loverde and Wuerl’s policy has been to follow the wishes of a politician’s hometown bishop.
The prayer breakfast on Friday, organized by conservative Catholics, will be a prominent platform for Burke and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say. Also speaking will be Supreme Court Justice and Catholic Antonin Scalia. Don’t expect either to soft-peddle his remarks.