President Barack Obama's policies "have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization," Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Vatican's chief justice, said this week.
"He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies," Burke, president of the Apostolic Signatura, said in an interview published Thursday by LifeSiteNews.com.
"Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship.
"He holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions," Burke said.
"Such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago."
Burke is the former archbishop of St. Louis. In December, Pope Francis removed the conservative cardinal
from his seat on the Vatican's influential Congregation for Bishops.
The cardinal's wide-ranging interview was first published in Polish in Polonia Christiana magazine.
Burke also said that priests should deny communion to Catholic politicians who support such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.
"In the case of a politician or other public figure who acts against the moral law in a grave matter," he said, "and yet presents himself to receive Holy Communion, the priest should admonish the person in question and then, if he or she persists in approaching to receive Holy Communion, the priest should refuse to give the Body of Christ to the person.
"The priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion is a prime act of pastoral charity, helping the person in question to avoid sacrilege and safeguarding the other faithful from scandal."
Burke, who has long contended that priests should withhold communion
to Catholic politicians with such views, added that he was encouraged by the growing pro-life movement in the United States, despite the Supreme Court's 1973 decision upholding a woman's right to an abortion.
"It is true that the Supreme Court decision stands, but it is also true that the pro-life movement has grown ever stronger in the United States," he said. "More and more citizens, especially young citizens, have been awakened to the truth about the grave evil of procured abortion."
In addition, Burke said that "false" interpretations of the First Amendment that separate church and state have led the Catholic Church to become "timid regarding its solemn duty to defend the truth in the public forum.
"The non-establishment clause prohibits an established religion or religion of the state in the USA, but it does not prohibit the church from witnessing publicly to the truth."
Such interpretations, he said, have "favored the anti-life and anti-family movements in the USA."
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