Speaking at the national meeting of The Institute for Religious Life, Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of Rome's Apostolic Signatura, sternly called to task, those consecrated Catholic religious, who openly dissent from the authority of Rome and it's teachings on life, as "an absurdity of the most tragic kind", and that they should cease identifying themselves as Catholic.
Archbishop Burke expressed exasperation with the defiance of Catholic religious sisters in the United States, who supported the federal health care bill - a measure dubbed the most pro-abortion piece of legislation since Roe v Wade.
"Who could imagine that consecrated religious, would openly and in defiance of the bishops, as successors of the apostles, publicly endorse legislation containing provisions, which violated the natural moral law in it's most fundamental tenets-the safeguarding and promoting of innocent and defenseless human life, and fail to safeguard the demands of the free exercise of conscience for health care workers," Archbishop Burke said.
"Whoever could have imagined that religious congregations of pontifical right, would openly organize to resist an attempt to frustrate an apostolic visitation, that is a visit to their congregations carried out under the authority of Christ on earth, to whom all religious are bound by the strongest bonds of loyalty and obedience," he said.
Archbishop Burke indicated that the attitude of sisters toward the visitation represents, "A growing tendency among certain consecrated religious, to view themselves outside and above the body of Christ, as a parallel institution looking in upon the Church with an autonomy which contradicts their very nature. Religious life lived in the heart of the Church, and for that reason religious congregations are by their very nature bound in strictest loyalty to the Roman pontiff. It is of course, an absurdity of the most tragic kind, to have consecrated religious obstinately acting against the moral law. The spiritual harm done to the individual religious, who are disobedient, and also the grave scandal caused to the faithful and people in general, are of incalculable dimensions."
Archbishop Burke also directly challenged Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, as well as Network, a pro-abortion lobby group of US nuns, whose support for the bill, the Obama Administration openly acknowledged, as critical to it's success.
"Was not the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, glowing to report, that so many religious sisters were in support of her proposed health care plan. Was not a religious sister ( Sr. Keehan ) one of the recipients of a "pen" used by the President of the United States, to sign the health care plan into law." the Archbishop concluded, "Now is the time for us all, and in particular for consecrated persons, to stand up for the truth and to call upon our fellow Catholics in leadership, to do the same, or to cease identifying themselves as Catholics."