Shooting the Messenger - Archbishop Burke/Randall Terry

I love the term, "Shooting the messenger" as a metaphor to describe the act of lashing out at the bearer of unwelcome news. The term goes back to ancient times but became popular when, "Don't shoot the messenger" was first expressed by Shakespeare in Henry IV. Today we see many examples of this. A recent example was “Joe the Plumber,” questioning Presidential Candidate Barack Obama about redistributing wealth. The media rolled out the cannon in their attempt to ridicule Joe, going so far as to claim he didn’t have a plumber’s license. This had nothing to do with redistributing wealth, but because the newspeople didn’t like the embarrassing query, they figuratively “shot the messenger.” The media approach was so ridiculous as to be laughable to anyone with an open mind.

Another example occurred when Carrie Prejean, Miss California, answered a question from ‘Judge’ Perez Hilton in a very honest and forthright manner during the Miss USA selection. For simply stating the obvious truth that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, Carrie has been unjustly and hatefully slandered, insulted and ridiculed by homosexual Perez Hilton, anti-Christian bigot Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and other so-called “tolerant” proponents of homosexual marriage.

Now we have Archbishop Burke coming out with a statement motivated in part by an interview he gave to Randall Terry. In this case both Archbishop Burke and Randall Terry were considered messengers.

The Message:

On Wednesday, March 25, at the National Press Club, pro-life activist Randall Terry showed a video of a Vatican Interview with Archbishop Burke, Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Burke’s comments pertained to Canon 915. He stated:

  1. The laity are not only encouraged, but required to contact the bishops and urge them to support Canon 915.
  2. The people who voted for pro-abortion politicians have cooperated in evil and are responsible for the killing of the unborn.
  3. There is no individual interpretation of Canon 915. It clearly states that public proponents of abortion must be denied communion. Canon 915 does not state these people should refrain from communion, only that they should be denied communion.
  4. President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.
  5. "It is weakening the faith of everyone. It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

Terry conducted the interview as part of his campaign to persuade the church to oust American bishops who allow abortion rights backers to receive Communion. He stated that Burke knew the goal of the campaign and that the interview would be distributed.

The Shooters:

Michael Sean Winters, a Catholic journalist and blogger for the Jesuit magazine America, said Burke's linking himself in any way with Terry's effort violated Vatican protocol. Winters said "It is unheard of for bishops not to defend each other in the face of zealots who are calling for their removal,"

James Hitchcock, a St. Louis University historian, called the archbishop's comments "highly unusual."

No one stated that the comments by Archbishop Burke were wrong – their only response was to shoot the messenger.

Finally, the Mafia wing of the Vatican twisted Archbishop Burke’s arm until he came up with an apology of sorts, saying he did not intend to have the video used in the manner used by Terry.

Next came those who took aim at Terry. He was accused of being a loose cannon. Events in his personal life were brought up.

Does this change what the Archbishop stated in his interview? No! Of course not! What Burke stated in the interview is what he meant. Let us act upon it.

We are commanded to contact our bishops and urge them to support Canon 915. Reiterate the statements made by Archbishop Burke.

Jim Fritz

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