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Priests told: deny communion to TDs who support abortion

A SENIOR Vatican cardinal has told priests not to give communion to politicians who support abortion.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke warned that legalising abortion creates a "culture of death" and that he fears for the future in Ireland.

The American, who is based in the Vatican, weighed in to the Irish abortion debate and said a diocesan bishop could directly reprimand a politician in certain circumstances.

And in accordance with canon law, he said priests should exclude politicians who support abortion from receiving communion.

"Those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not be admitted to receive holy communion. There can be no question that the practise of abortion is among the gravest of manifest sins," he said.

"As long as (a Catholic politican) continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused holy communion."

The local bishop should "teach clearly in the matter" and should encourage his priests to make sure that the church's discipline is observed, he added.

Cardinal Burke is prefect of the Apostolic Signatura – the supreme authority on justice in the church apart from the Pope. He made the comments in an interview with the Irish 'Catholic Voice' newspaper.

He discussed Catholic teaching in light of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and abortion in the US. Ms Halappanavar died after allegedly being refused a termination for an unviable pregnancy.

"Her request would not have made it right for the law to permit such an act, which is always and everywhere wrong," said Cardinal Burke.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr James Reilly promised his Cabinet colleagues to come back with draft abortion laws – but can't give a date.

Government tensions mean the heads of the bill are not yet finalised.

Dr Reilly only gave a verbal briefing to the Cabinet today on the proposed laws as a result.

And there was no detailed discussion among ministers on the issue.

The minister said the next time he comes back, he will have a draft in writing.

A Government spokesman did not have a timeline.

"No, I don't. But there will be no undue delay. We will proceed in a considered manner," the spokesman said.

A number of highly contentious issues have still to be worked out before Dr Reilly brings a formal memorandum on the abortion legislation to Government.

Labour Party ministers are firing warning shots about the suicide test in the new abortion laws.

The question of the duration into the pregnancy where an abortion can take place is also highly sensitive.

The first draft of proposals is supposed to be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

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