Cardinal Burke: It is a “source of anguish” to hear suggestions “that I would lead a schism”

“The truth of the matter is marriage is not an ideal. It is a reality,” says Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke in a lengthy new interview with Chris Altieri. “What frightens me a great deal about the present situation of the Church,” he adds, “is what I would call a politicization of Church life and of Church doctrine.”

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke leaving a papal audience to exchange Christmas greetings with members of the Roman Curia at the Vatican in this Dec. 22, 2016, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, spoke recently with Thinking with the Church, hosted by Chris Altieri, who is also a regular contributor to Catholic World Report.

Cardinal Burke responds to questions regarding the interpretation and reception of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. He has frankly critical words for the Bishops of Malta, who issued Criteria for the implementation of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia in January of last year. Their Criteria include two paragraphs – 9 and 10 – which say that persons in irregular unions may discern that continence is impossible for them, and that a person having made such a determination under the guidance of a pastor, “with an informed and enlightened conscience,” being at peace with God, “cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” Cardinal Burke calls this implementation of the document, “[S]imply contrary to what the Church has always taught and practiced.”

Though the Bishops of Malta (and others sustaining a more latitudinous reading of Amoris laetitia) cite the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation copiously, Cardinal Burke maintains that the problems he sees in the various applications of the document are not simply reducible to the interpretative difficulties. He is also outspoken in his high regard for the teaching mission of the Petrine Office. “It is not a question of being ‘pro-’ Pope Francis or ‘contra-’ Pope Francis,” Burke says. “It is,” rather, “a question of defending the Catholic faith, and that means defending the Office of Peter to which the Pope has succeeded.”

He says the climate in which our counsels in the Church are being given and taken has become politicized. “What frightens me a great deal about the present situation of the Church is what I would call a politicization of Church life and of Church doctrine.” He goes on to say, “[T]o defend what the Church has constantly taught and practiced can never be seen as some kind of political action against the ‘other’ political movement.”

Cardinal Burke urges Catholics on all sides of the controversy to assume the best in their interlocutors, and strongly rejects the idea that he is any part of an opposition movement, still less a schismatic one. “I will never abandon the Catholic Church, because it is the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, who established Peter as the Head of the Apostolic College, as the principle of the unity of the Church throughout the world – and once we have no longer have faith in our Lord’s abiding presence in the Church, also through the Petrine Office, we cease to be Catholic, and we enter into that whole world of unending divisions among Christians.”

The podcast edition can be found here. A transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity, can be found below.

Cardinal Burke: The situation continues to be cause of a great deal of concern, because there is a confusion, which is growing – I would say, almost exponentially in the Church – regarding fundamental truths, especially the truth about the Sacrament of Marriage and the truth about the Holy Eucharist and the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

I hear it frequently. Recently I received a communication from a man I had never met, who was living in an irregular matrimonial union, who was told by a priest in confession that the priest now had from Pope Francis the faculty to declare a marriage null in the Sacrament of [Confession], and therefore to permit the man in question to receive the Sacraments. The man wrote to me saying that initially he was very happy with what the priest said, but that every time he received Holy Communion, his conscience wouldn’t give him any rest. Therefore, he wrote to me, asking whether it is true that priests now have the faculty to declare a marriage null in the Sacrament of Confession. I responded to him, of course in a kind way, saying that no priest, not even the Pope himself, has the faculty to declare a marriage null in the Sacrament of Confession, that his conscience was bothering him rightly, and that he should follow his conscience. I suggested that he should contact a good and wise priest to help him to address his situation.

This is not an isolated case. I know very well that these kinds of practices and others are going on, which are attacking the Church at her very foundation, namely, the family – the domestic Church, the first place in which the Church comes to life. It has to be a source of the deepest concern for all of us to restore the right understanding of [the Sacrament of] Marriage as a grace given to those who enter marriage to live faithful, indissoluble and procreative love for one another. Therefore, it remains as critical as ever to respond to the serious doubts, which have been raised in people’s minds by Amoris laetitia, to make clear the constant teaching and practice of the Church, which in fact cannot change and will not change, so that people’s lives can be set on the firm foundation of the life of Christ in us, the life of Christ with us in the Church. In that way, family life will be strengthened and the whole life of society will be strengthened.

So, the issue only becomes more critical, and it only becomes more urgent that all of us address ourselves to it in the most effective way possible for us.

Chris Altieri: How did we get here? I mean to say: a post-Synodal Exhortation is a post-Synodal Exhortation. It is not per se a teaching document. A Pope may use [one] to teach something, but Pope Francis tells us he is not teaching anything new in the document, and we believe him. It is also not a governing instrument of any kind. It does not change the law it does not pretend to. So, where is the confusion coming from?

Cardinal Burke: The confusion has its roots in a long-time opposition to Christ’s teaching about marriage, [and] the Church’s teaching about the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist.

There has always been a certain element in the Church, which has rebelled against the Church’s teaching, and in recent times we saw it in very evident ways: For instance, in the whole debate with regard to artificial contraception which took place in the Sixties; but also this issue with regard to irregular matrimonial unions, cohabitation outside of marriage; it is all an effect, really, of secular society, in which there has been in our time a relentless attack upon the sanctity of marriage. We see it now in a perfectly horrible manifestation in this so-called gender theory. So, we should not be surprised that these issues were raised again, even as they were raised at the time of the last [1980] Synod on the Family, to which Pope St. John Paul II responded so well, setting forth – as a post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation should – not some new teaching, but setting forth what the Church has always taught and practiced for the sake of strengthening the life of the Church and therefore addressing the greatest needs of society. St. John Paul II gave [us] that kind of document with Familiaris consortio.

The only thing we can do in terms of Amoris laetitia is to read it in the perspective of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, and that means that there cannot be what some have called a revolution in the Catholic Church: The Church  now accepting that people who are divorced and whose marriages have not been declared null are able to enter into a so-called “second marriage”; revolution, too, in terms of the Church’s constant teaching that the conjugal act rightly takes place only within marriage, in other words, cohabitation outside of marriage is always and everywhere evil. That is the only way we can interpret the document, and that is the way we have to interpret the document. We are Roman Catholics. Christ is alive for us in the constant teaching of the Church, and we must never go away from Him, from the way in which He teaches us and governs us in the Church.

Altieri: One might suggest that – even granted, as we ought to, that we read Amoris with the constant teaching of the Church as presupposed and controlling our understanding of the document – that Familiaris consortio quite a famously put a sort of “Petrine seal” on what was already a fairly diffuse pastoral practice, which was – remoto scandalo – to admit people who were in irregular situations to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and [the Sacrament of] Holy Communion, when they were properly disposed to receive [it], and insofar as they were committed to living continently, to practicing continence in their putative unions. What is different with Amoris laetitia that creates the concern and the confusion – or is it not necessarily with Amoris laetitia, but with its implementation?

Cardinal Burke: Well, on the one hand it is an interpretative problem. On the other hand, it certainly is a problem of application.

The interpretative difficulty is that the document seems to suggest that there are cases apart from the case which you have just mentioned, which is the only possible case in which two people who are living together in what appears to be a marital union could receive the sacraments: Namely, they live together because, for some reason or another, they are unable to separate, but they live not as husband and wife, but as “brother and sister”, observing continence. So that is an interpretive problem, and that has to be clarified. Thus far, at least in some of those who claim to be interpreting Amoris laetitia correctly, there would be other instances. I suppose it was expressed in a way that may be helpful in understanding this problem of interpretation when, during the first session of the most recent Synod of Bishops on the family, in which I took part, one prominent Cardinal said that marriage is an ideal, but we cannot hold people to the ideal. The truth of the matter is marriage is not an ideal. It is a reality. It is a gift of Divine grace to live in the love of the Holy Trinity in a faithful indissoluble life-giving love, and therefore we are held – those who enter into marriage, those who confer the Sacrament of Marriage on each other – are held to live in fidelity to that grace, even to an heroic degree.

In fact, over my years of priestly life and as a bishop and most recently during this whole crisis of the interpretation of the work of the first session of the Synod, I have met numerous Catholics who are divorced, and who are living now in fidelity to their marriage. That is, they have not attempted a second marriage – so to speak – but see their calling now to remain faithful to the marriage which they contracted and to pray for the salvation of their spouse who has either left them or whom they left, as their principal duty. The Sacrament of Marriage exists first and foremost for the salvation of the partners, and so, when one enters the Sacrament of Marriage, [one’s] first and greatest duty is to pray and work for the salvation of the partner, of the marriage partner.

So that is a real difficulty with regard to the interpretation itself of the text, but then the applications are also a grave difficulty, and we have applications like that set forth by the Bishops of Malta, which are simply contrary to what the Church has always taught and practiced. This cannot be true. I often say we need to invoke more frequently the fundamental principle of logic: the principle of non-contradiction; that a thing cannot be and not be in the same respect at the same time. We cannot have it that marriage is indissoluble and at the same time [that] someone who is bound in marriage is permitted in the Church to enter a so-called second union. That is just a contradiction.

Altieri: There are people who have been heard and who have found their way to significant public airing of their opinions on this question, who have attempted, anyway, to make the Holy Father himself either a willing or an unwilling participant in this. I would like you to have the chance to speak to that.

Cardinal Burke: To me, the question is always a question of the Church’s constant teaching.

To address your question, I must first make a preliminary observation. What frightens me a great deal about the present situation of the Church is what I would call a politicization of Church life and of Church doctrine. This is easily done by the secular media but it is also being aided and abetted in the present time by certain Church leaders and theologians and other commentators. This is not a question of being in favor of the “Francis Revolution”, as it is popularly called. It is not a question of being “pro-” Pope Francis or “contra-” Pope Francis. It is a question of defending the Catholic faith, and that means defending the Office of Peter to which the Pope has succeeded. And so, to defend what the Church has constantly taught and practiced can never be seen as some kind of political action against the “other” political movement, as it is called – the “Revolution” in the Church – and can never be seen as being contrary to the Papal office.

In fact, the greatest service that any one of us can give to the Holy Father is to speak the truth of the faith, and this then assists him in being what the Second Vatican Council rightly calls the principle of the unity of all the bishops and of the Church itself.

There is just no other way to view it, and I find it first of all ridiculous, but secondly very harmful, that people who simply present the Church’s teaching to the best of their ability are accused of being against the Holy Father or are accused of being divisive in the Church – even to the point of being accused of leading a schismatic movement in the Church. These are techniques that are used to advance certain agendas, and we ought not to be intimidated by them or to be led [in]to silence by them. Rather, we should be encouraged even as Our Lord Himself encourages us, to speak the truth and to give witness to it in our daily lives.

Altieri: Your Eminence, just to set the record straight on this point: There are people who have suggested that you are yourself a dissenter – voices that have suggested you are leaning toward schismatic tendencies, if not open schism. No one in a place of responsibility in the Church has suggested that, but I know that people’s faith is being challenged. So, I would like you to have the chance to address that.

Cardinal Burke: Yes, it is a source of anguish for me to hear this – people suggesting that I would lead a schism.

What is also a source of anguish for me is to see good Catholics, and in particular converts to the Catholic faith, whose faith is being tremendously tested by the present situation of the Church, and who even experience temptations to seek Christ outside of the Catholic Church, in the sense that they are tempted to think that the Church herself has defected from the Apostolic Faith. We can understand why this is a great difficulty for converts, who have come to the Catholic Church because she has down the centuries – notwithstanding many trials and tribulations even within the Church – remained faithful – clearly with the help of Divine grace – to the Apostolic Tradition.

To respond directly to the question, as I have in the past: I will never be part of any schism, even if I should be punished within the Church for what I in good conscience am trying to do to teach the Catholic faith and to defend it as I am obliged to do, first of all as a Christian but even more so as a Bishop and a Cardinal of the Church. I will never abandon the Catholic Church, because it is the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, who established Peter as the Head of the Apostolic College, as the principle of the unity [of] the Church throughout the world – and once we have no longer have faith in our Lord’s abiding presence in the Church, also through the Petrine Office, we cease to be Catholic, and we enter into that whole world of unending divisions among Christians.

Therefore, I would simply urge fellow Catholics – even as I am trying to do myself – to respond to the situation by fidelity to what the Church has always taught and practiced – and that is not a mystery to us: it is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance – and remaining faithful in that way we will also remain one with Peter; because one Pope does not teach differently from another Pope. All Popes are successors to St. Peter. They are guardians and promoters of the Apostolic Tradition, and therefore, if we remain faithful to what the Church has always taught and practiced, we also then will remain faithful to St. Peter: Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia. It is a difficult situation, but in a certain sense it is quite simple: We are Roman Catholics; we know what the Roman Catholic faith is, and we must adhere to it and defend it, even if it means – as it has meant for many of our forebears – martyrdom, or a kind of “white martyrdom” – of ridicule, of accusation of being an enemy of the Church.

Whatever may be involved for us, in the end all that can really matter is that we remain faithful to Christ and to what He is teaching us in the Church.

Altieri: To put a bow on our conversation today: There is a narrative of opposition that certainly sells a lot of soap: Sometimes [the proponents of this narrative] will place yourself together with the co-signatories of the Dubia at the head of this “resistance movement”; it is a nice story if you were making a Hollywood pitch, I suppose. Does it correspond to reality?

Cardinal Burke: No. I can tell you that – I do not say this in praise of myself or of the other three Cardinals, two of whom Our Lord has called to Himself: Cardinal Meisner and Cardinal Caffarra – but we never had any other goal in mind other than to be authentic teachers of the faith. We were responding to – we are, we continue to respond – Cardinal Brandmüller and myself – to what is our principal responsibility as Bishops and as Cardinals: To teach the faith. We are not leading any kind of movement. We have never tried to form any kind of movement. We have simply tried our best to defend Christ and His teaching in the Church.

I remain very much inspired by Cardinal Caffarra and Cardinal Meisner, and I am very much in communication with Cardinal Brandmüller, and I can assure you that that is the sum and substance. The secular world wants to interpret what we have done with all kinds of worldly motives and so forth. I can assure you that, also through prayer and sacrifice, we have tried to purify ourselves of anything that would be other than devoted love of Christ and of His Church.

32 Comments

  1. The sacrament of Marriage is spiritually embodied in the Holy Eucharist, in which Man and Woman realize the meaning of loving indissolubility. At the start Cardinal Burke speaks of “the truth about the Sacrament of Marriage and the truth about the Holy Eucharist”. Fear of causing schism a charge relentlessly hurled at him likely kept him silent. He is entirely faithful to the Chair of Peter, rightly distinguishing the Office from the Holder, “It is rather a question of defending the Catholic faith, defending the Office of Peter”. Also the astute former Apostolic Signature cannot isolate error because the Pontiff has not promoted his “New Paradigm” with definitive statements of intent. Pope Francis instead appeals to “mitigating circumstances” (AL 302), cited 2352 CCC alluding to masturbation, “One must take into account force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety that lessen, if not reduce to a minimum, moral culpability”. The Catechism upholds a theological position never fully developed insofar as degrees of culpability. What exactly does “reduce to a minimum” mean? There are no mitigating circumstances that remove grave responsibility for committing an inherently evil sin such as adultery. Insofar as habit it’s rather the continued disposition of the D&R, their unwillingness to correct sinful behavior. Furthermore we can’t omit Christ’s spilling of blood and grace.

    • “…because one Pope does not teach differently from another Pope…”

      I like Cardinal Burke, but even he at times seems to intentionally misrepresent or cover up the gravely evil actions of Pope Francis in order to “defend the Church” or “defend the Petrine Office.” It is possible that many of these prelates are coming down with early onset Alzheimers, and thus, they cannot be blamed for their forgetfulness and/or ignoring of Pope Francis’ evils. But, it is nearly impossible for such a disease to occur in so many prelates at the same time.

      Excuse me for being honest, but what we have here are multiple prelates who apparently think it is o.k. to lie to cover up for or “protect” “the Petrine Office” and/or “the Church.”

      Such lies are still gravely evil and could result in the damnation of one’s soul. Pope Francis has done unbelievably horrible evils…unbelievably horrible evils (simply view his support for and aiding in the spread of Islam – the anti-Christ and apostate political sect – throughout the world)…to even remotely suggest that Pope Francis is in line with previous popes is gravely mistaken and/or sinful. To say that “one Pope does not teach differently from another Pope” is either a serious error that must urgently be corrected, or it is a blatant misrepresentation which would be a grave, grave sin.

      What we have occurring within the Church is much like the woman who marries the heroine addict thinking she can change him from his abuses; then, after years and years of evils and abuses of their children committed by the heroine addict, the wife continually makes excuses and covers up for his evils and abuses, to the point of her enabling the addict and being complicit in his abuse of their own children. Mortal sin is mortal sin. Prelates, don’t fool yourselves into thinking you are doing good or “being prudent” by covering up for Pope Francis’ unbelievable, and apparently diabolically inspired, evils.

      Cardinal Burke, don’t sell your soul by covering up for the evils of Pope Francis in attempt to save the Church or the Petrine Office. That is pseudo-prudence. It is not prudence. That is not from God. That is from Satan.

    • Hello Father Morello!

      It seems these recent reflections by Cardinal Burke now always seem to hover around a similar theme, that being, reasons why he cannot follow through with what he promised to do; Correct the Pope.

      As usual, you have made a number of very interesting points that are worthy of delving into further, but for reasons of brevity and the observation I just made, I’d like to take just one. You said, “Also the astute former Apostolic Signature cannot isolate error because the Pontiff has not promoted his ‘New Paradigm’ with definitive statements of intent.”

      Certainly the Pope has not explicitly ruled or defined clearly the positions which are of specific concern in the Dubia. That is one major point. He has refused to answer the Dubia. This is manifest and at the core of the issue. But the conditions of this reality are obvious and they existed at the time of Burke’s promise to correct the Pope! At the very least, if Burke is going to continue with this same current vein, in charity, it seems to me he needs to make a clear and public apology to:

      1} the Pope
      2} the faithful all over the world
      3} {especially} all non-Catholics who, lost in the darkness as so many of us converts were, are now even more befuddled by what they see in the Catholic Church and by Cardinal Burke’s current change in position, a change that now seems to condemn his own previous positions as rash and poorly thought through.

      Burke appears to have changed. He is no longer merely an apologist for the papacy…Burke has now become an apologist for Jorge Bergoglio Pope Francis.

      I was taught never, EVER to start a fight that I wasn’t prepared to take to the ground. I think that teaching needs no explanation and is almost a simple feature of natural law, inherent in the heart of all men! To do so is one of the most serious failures of character a man can display for it exposes the man to complete {and warranted} ridicule. It exposes others who support the man to attack. It destroys the confidence others have {and might have in the future} in the man that backs down.

      I’m sorry, but what I see in this man Burke at this time is a man who has picked a {justified} fight with the Pope and now he is running away and leaving all those who trusted him in disarray and confusion and danger.

      Burke appears frozen in fear.

      Is this too harsh an assessment?

      For myself, I am happy that there are others who though they don’t hold the status of Burke in the Church, notably Bishop Schneider and some others, are at least acting like men when men are needed and making clear statements to the Pope, the faithful and the lost. As for Cardinal Burke, I pray for him every day, now not so much for his leadership which he seems to be giving up, but simply for him as a man who appears to me to be collapsing under the weight of the load he used to think he was
      called to carry.

      May God bless Cardinal Burke, and may God Save the Catholic Church.

      • Halvorsen your right that we should never enter a fight without “taking it to the ground”. I too would prefer that he take action and oppose this Pontiff just as another highly intelligent man eminent theologian Fr Weinandy did. Although canonically and by the standards of civil jurisprudence the Pope cannot be accused of error in respect to his documented words, it remains that ‘his mind’ meaning his intent however obliquely revealed by Cardinal Parolin on the letters added to the Acta Apostolicae is for all normal purpose revealed. Unfortunately if a case were made it would not stand for reasons given. So I agree with you that he nonetheless should, even must because of its beneficial effect for the salvation of many repudiate the Pontiff citing all of the Pontiff’s chicanery and do it strongly.

  2. Sad to say but the schism is already here. We may still have some corporate unity, but there are clearly two versions of Catholicism present in the Church. The unity we think we have is a facade.

    • That is correct.

      Bishop Schneider has said as much and it is stating the obvious.

      Burke says he is not leading a movement. Well, that is sad, because we need leaders of a movement to restore not just doctrinal purity to the Church, but just plain decency and simple integrity.

      Burke made a promise to correct the Pope.

      Where is that correction?

      • It may have joined Trump’s…” Mexico will pay for the wall.” Reading between the lines, one gathers that….ie…we are to read AL in line with tradition.
        ” Dear….what are you reading?”
        ” I’m reading Sartre’s ‘ Being and Nothingness’ as though it’s Melville’s ‘ Moby Dick’ “.

    • Can we not all see the work of satan here. He boldly asked Our Lord to give him time [100 years] to destroy His church. He seems to be doing a good job of it. But Our Lord is and always will be in control.We must remain united! I think Cardinal Burke is doing an excellent job of defending the teachings of Jesus. Let us not allow satan to divide us.

  3. Without discernment, you can easily misunderstand what is being said here. Prayers for discernment and understanding of what the Holy Spirit gave Pope Francis through Divine Revelation are needed here. Also, we do not truly know what the Priest actually said to the member who was confessing during the Sacrament of Confession. The Priest involved cannot speak of it and the member is a grave sinner according to his own admission. Discernment will clear up any confusion of what God’s Will is. Only through a direct relationship with God, through the Seven Sacraments, can you receive absolution, penance and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. No Priest in the world would keep you from a Sacrament unless you continue to hold on to your mortal sins during confession. If you do not truly repent of your sins and your propensity to commit the same sins repeatedly, you retain the grave matters you are committing through falling easily to the temptations of Satan. My prayers are with all my brothers and sisters who cannot give up the worldly temptations. Worldly temptations should mean nothing to those who want to be in the fullness of Christ more than anything.

  4. All true Catholics like Cardinal Burke.

    For myself, I’m tired of reading Cardinal Burke describe ad nauseum the problems we all know exist.

    Turn the page, Cardinal Burke.

    The question is whether he is going to DO something about it. And at this point in time it appears he is telling us he is not.

    I hope he changes his mind.

    • I agree strongly with your comment. Enough of the hand-wringing by acardinal Burke. And enough of the endless repetition by Cardinal Burke if the problems that are now self-evident to all faithful Catholics. He promised a correction and has failed completely to deliver it. As his credibility continues to evaporate, his pusillanimity and undue regard of human respect have emerged in depressingly high profile. Cardinal Burke, either lead or get out of the way.

    • Rod Halvorsen your faithful witness is evident as common among many converts. Though some feel ashamed for becoming Catholic some sorry. It is the faith of men and women who made serious entry into a tradition of Apostolic Truth. That is what you possess. And that is what you must insist. We need to stand tall. Christ warned us that a time of test will come, that the assault against the Gospel will be relentless. The gospel of the “New Paradigm” shreds Christ’s Gospel with Wicked Claw. We know who authored the Gospels of the Church. It is impossible that Christ would contradict himself after two thousand years of Apostolic Tradition and witness to that Gospel by the heroism of Saints and blood of Martyrs. We know who authored the new paradigm gospel. It is not Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, who does not contradict the Son or the Father. We are either cowards and faint away in fear and self inflicted confusion, or those who possess the truth and succumb to self inflicted inertia. Cowards will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Moral cowards fear the pain of retribution. He made us to be men of valor. The weak, I can speak for myself Our Lord can make strong. “Stand fast in the faith, be a man” (1 Cor 16:13). There is no longer question of the hour, our call to fight to the end the Evil ensconced within the Church.

      • Thank you Father.

        There is an old saying that in a gunfight “As long as there is still lead in the air, there is hope”.

        Priests like you are the lead in the air.

        Keep flying!!

    • Perhaps an oversimplification of the problem suggests that it takes at least two people to have a “discussion”. Unfortunately, Pope Francis has refused to participate in a discussion–even to the point of refusing an audience to the Dubia Cardinals (after completely ignoring the Dubia). The questionable parts of Amoris Latetia have been pointed out in the Dubia, and subsequent presentations.

      As long as we recognize the Pope as the “Head” of the Church, it becomes very difficult, if not outright impossible, to “correct” or to “discipline” him. Cardinal Burke is a good and well-intentioned prelate, with the good of the Church in his heart. He has been rebuked by Pope Francis twice in the last five years. First, he was removed as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the “High Court” of the Vatican) without any apparent cause, wrong-doing, malfeasance, or explanation. Next, he was summoned to Rome after being appointed as the Patron of the Knights of Malta. (Pope Francis took an unusual and unprecedented step in taking “control” of the Knights, removing its head, and appointing another in his place. Theoretically, the Knights are an “Independent” organization without any authority wresting in the Papacy.) No excuse has been given for the Pope’s unprecedented actions. I will grant that all the Curia members serve at the Holy Father’s pleasure, but I can’t remember ever hearing of any of them being removed without just cause. Pope Francis did a similar thing with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when he “fired” three of the priests there, and subsequently removed the Prefect after he questioned why the priests, who had been very good and loyal workers, had be removed. Now we see even the secular media taking exceptions to the actions of Pope Francis, especially in the sex-abuse scandals (the terms of the Commission have expired without reappointments or replacements), and the appointment of Bishop Barrios in Chile, after receiving documentation from Cardinal O’Malley in 2015 of “misdeeds”, is certainly challenging the veracity and capability of Pope Francis. The Pope has already had to apologize for his rather curt and dismissive remarks when questioned about the situation. Child Advocate and attorney Liz Yore pointed out that while Pope Francis was the Archbishop in Argentina, there were NO cases of sex abuse by the clergy–a rather unusual and rare event. It unfortunately seems this Pope has a knack for saying one thing during a Press Conference, and then either having his remarks “explained” later, or having to “clarify” that what has been reported is not what he intended to say.

      I would also like to see Cardinal Burke take a more firm stance, but I agree with him that until the Pope better “defines” his remarks, removes the apparent conflicts in A.L., or issues some other confusing statements, I don’t see that much can be done. Once again, it takes more than one person to have a dialogue. Look at how far Cardinal Zen has gotten when telling the Pope that the Church is capitulating to the Chinese Government and betraying the Faithful in China. This will further lead to a schism in our Church if it continues. The authority rests with “Peter” to “strengthen his brethren”.

  5. Twiddle-doo, you might not want a schism but you are helping the media cause it. How soon do people forget that the Church is indefectible? It needs no self-proclaimed guardians, for the Holy Spirit is its guardian. It is founded on a rock, and will remain God’s voice on earth no matter what. Think the Church is failing because you don’t understand the pope? Faith is believing without seeing but because God says so. Where then is your faith.

    • Voiceless,
      Pope Nicholas V in writing, which he averred could not be gainsaid by ” any authority whatsoever” in the future, gave Portugal the right to enslave perpetually and despoil any new natives that resisted the gospel…Romanus Pontifex 1454 et al. Three subsequent Popes affirmed it. Pope Paul III denounced it in 1537. 83 years of the license to enslave and remove Peru’s silver from Pitosi which became 40% of Spain’s budget ( Spain was included later by the Borgia Pope)…was a long time. No one seems to really have a good handle on what the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit means in the concrete. And Portugal never stopped their slave trade until England stopped them in the 19th century. In some areas, God acts very slowly to stop evils caused even by a Pope as in that case.

    • Exactly. Those who hold fast to the Faith are not the schismatics, those who attempt to “declare a new gospel” are the schismatics.

  6. It seems that Pope Francis who is the visible head of the Church is demonstrating the behavior and condition of the mystery body,the Church.
    The Church is sick and stained, in its members, that is the reality. If we are faithful to God and persevere in daily Prayers then we will be part of the Solutions in the Church and in the world. We must reflect the Light of Jesus in this age of darkness. All done with kindness, self control, and seeking to maintain unity in the Church.

  7. There is a difference between leading a schism and exposing a schism, and that difference, makes all the difference.
    The erroneous notion that private morality and public morality can serve in opposition to one another, and are not complementary, has lead to grievous error in both Faith and reason.To claim that man is not subject to God’s Law, when acting in private, is a complete renunciation of our Catholic Faith.

  8. I know Cardinal Burke is only trying to prevent a raging storm in the Church. The fact is that the raging storm can no longer be prevented, its already here. The schism is here. The schismatics are undeniably, Pope Francis and his regime. What is needed is the Formal Correction and that correction must only be to depose Pope Francis as a manifest heretic and a manifest schismatic. These two accusations are from Francis own words, actions and omissions. Cardinal Burke should just tell us straight out that there will be no Formal Correction so that the false hope for it could end.

  9. Cardinal Burke is a fine man and one of the most considerate prelates that I have ever met. I don’t think that he has it in his nature to ever intentionally offend anyone and he pays honor to our Pope, whether he agrees with him or not. That is something to respect.

    Yes, our Pope is liberal in many ways. He is Jesuit and sometimes the two things come seem to come together. God works through men with faults and God knows that we all have them. Why should the Pope be different. We need prayer for our leaders and for our world. God knows that we need this.

    Jim

  10. This Jesuit Pope lost me with his remarks:
    ‘We must apologize to homosexuals’
    Why?
    We are called to love everyone. They are our children, our brothers and sisters, our friends, children of God.

  11. While I share the frustration expressed by many who are responding to this interview, Cardinal Burke’s answers shed a great deal of light as to why he hasn’t taken action. He won’t lead a schism, which is the morally correct thing to not do. But, those who are deeply troubled by the words & actions of Pope Francis are NOT the ones “leading a schism.” A schism is launched by people with agendas like Pope Francis who break from the Church! We have to look at the situation as it truly is. Cardinal Burke & those in agreement with him are NOT the ones breaking with traditional Church teachings. Pope Francis & those in agreement with him ARE the ones breaking with Church teaching & thus, initiating a schismatic movement within the Church! Cardinal Burke & all of us in agreement with him will, by the grace of God, remain faithful to the true teachings of the Catholic Church. It’s very clear that our current pontiff & many within the Vatican are defiantly walking away from those teachings & are thus, heading towards schism. Cardinal Burke is not leading us; we’re in this together.

  12. The real problem is that Cardinal Burke thinks that he does not want to cause a schism, when it is not him who is causing the schism but Bergoglio … look, it is as if you were to make a denounce and the guilty person menaces you with killing your loved ones if you proceed, but if you make the denounce and your loved ones are murdered, you no are the killer, but the person that menaced you

  13. As a born Methodist who received almost all my education at Catholic schools and who very nearly converted to Catholicism in my last year in high school 55 years ago after some sort of ‘experience’ during a mass I was attending, I am appalled at what has been revealed about this church of, so called, ‘apostolic’ faith!
    In my dreams I cannot fathom what the Apostle Peter would say if he knew that his name is being used to propagate a religion that embraces celibacy (he himself being a married man), paedophilia and child abuse and homosexuality…all very loudly called sin in the Word of God/Bible.
    It is no use to focus on the sanctity of marriage before setting things straight regarding these other issues as this, to me anyway, sounds very hypocritical!
    Yes..Jesus did say that marriage is sacred and is an unbreakable bond/covenant between a man and a woman as this act is a foreshadow of God’s Covenant with Israel and Jesus’ Covenant in blood with His true body of believers who were Jews and later included non-Jews. Sadly, as in my case, this was never made clear to me until I had already divorced and remarried.
    The only real way to understand this is to read both the Old Testament (which many churches view as redundant ) and the New Testament from cover to cover and to research these issues for oneself! Once this is done and one finds inner peace by confessing one’s sins to our Father and sincerely seeking forgiveness in the name of His Son Jesus and, believing that one is forgiven, being baptised by immersion, is one cleansed and has a new start. One has a clean slate, so to speak, and steps out with the aim of being an example of the One who cleansed us and rejecting all sin against the 10 Commandments aka Torah

  14. so my wife commits adultery then marries that man has 2 kids. ten years later has trouble with the second husband she did not get an annulment from the first marrage. we met by chance and get back together. are we committing adultery?

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Episode 20 A conversation with Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke | Thinking with the Church
  2. Card. Burke speaks up | Fr. Z's Blog
  3. Cardinals without chests | AKA Catholic
  4. Cardinal Burke: It is a ‘Source of Anguish’ to Hear Suggestions ‘That I Would Lead a Schism’ – Revelation Twelve

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