Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” is “a significant improvement over the text of the ‘Relatio post Disceptationem'”

On attempts by some bishops to change Church teaching: "In my judgment, a false notion of the relationship of faith and culture underlies the agenda."

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has been a “setback” for Pope Francis, and remarks on the push by certain European bishops to change various Church teaching.

CWR: What reactions or impressions do you have to the Relatio Synodi? Do you think it provides an accurate summary and accounting of what the Synod discussed and expressed in its interventions and groups?

Cardinal Burke: Although I had hoped that more of the material from the small group of which I was a part [link] would be included in the Relatio Synodi, it is a significant improvement over the text of the Relatio post Disceptationem which was presented to the Synod Fathers on this past Monday.

Yes, I would say that it provides an accurate, if not complete, summary of the discussions in the Synod Hall and in the small groups.

CWR: Many in the secular media are presenting this as a blow to Pope Francis. For example, the BBC states, “Pope suffers synod setback on gays”. Is that a fair or accurate analysis of the situation? Is there really any evidence to suggest that the Holy Father’s wanted the Synod to push for more “openness” to those who identify as “gay/lesbian”, or that he wishes to relax Church teaching regarding homosexuality and “same sex unions”?

Cardinal Burke: It is a blow to those who wrote the material which did not reflect the Church’s teaching regarding the homosexual condition and homosexual acts, which implied that the Church wants now to relax its perennial teaching, and which tried to introduce material regarding so-called “same-sex unions” into the discussion of Christian marriage.

I have no evidence regarding the Pope’s thinking in the matter or regarding his alleged support of a relaxation of the Church’s teaching.

CWR: There is a widespread impression that certain European bishops are intent on getting Church teaching changed regarding homosexuality, homosexual unions, remarriage and Communion, contraception, and related issues. Is that a reasonable impression? If so, what underlies such an agenda, in your opinion?

Cardinal Burke: The impression is reasonable, as long as it is limited to certain European bishops, because a number of European bishops have been clear and strong in upholding the Church’s teaching regarding all of these questions. Cardinal Walter Kasper has been the most outspoken supporter of change of the Church’s discipline in these matters, even while he insists that he is not proposing a change in the Church’s teaching.

Of course, in the Catholic Church, her discipline is the mirror of her doctrine, and, therefore, you cannot uphold the Church’s teaching, while proposing a discipline contrary to the teaching.

In my judgment, a false notion of the relationship of faith and culture underlies the agenda. Those who urge the agenda typically describe in detail all of the tragic aspects of the total secularization of culture and then propose that the Church has to change her language and discipline, in order to take into account the radical changes in culture.

For example, one prelate made the comment that, since Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Familiaris Consortio [link], is some thirty years old, it is no longer adequate to address our situation. But Familiaris Consortio presents the perennial teaching of the Church and is, therefore, as pertinent to the situation of our day as it was pertinent in the 1980s.

A correct view of the relationship of faith and culture tries to see how the Church can more effectively, that is more clearly and strongly, address the unchanging truths of the faith to the present situation. Frequently, a faulty hermeneutic which was applied to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council—claiming to follow the so-called “spirit of the Council” set forth in the Address of Saint John XXIII, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, to open the Council on October 11, 1962, is used to justify the false notion.

The false notion of the relationship of faith and culture must be aggressively addressed to stop the spreading of a most harmful confusion.

Related on CWR:

“Cardinal Burke: Synod’s mid-term report “lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium” (Oct. 14, 2014)

“Cardinal Burke to CWR: confirms transfer, praises pushback, addresses controversy over remarks by Cardinal Kasper” (Oct. 18, 2014)

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About Carl E. Olson 1227 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.