Card. Burke addresses relationship with Pope Francis; says “the integrity of marriage is under attack”

“Certain media simply want to keep portraying me as living my life as an opponent to Pope Francis. I am not at all." has a piece by Edward Pentin, reporting on a recent appearance by Cardinal Raymond Burke in Vienna Tuesday, at the launch of the German translation of Remaining in the Truth of Christ:

“Certain media simply want to keep portraying me as living my life as an opponent to Pope Francis,” he said. “I am not at all. I’ve been serving him in the Apostolic Signatura and in other ways I continue to serve him.”

The Wisconsin-born prelate was responding to comments he made in an interview he gave the Spanish weekly Vida Nueva last week. The article misconstrued him as criticizing the Pope–despite his stressing in the interview that he was not at odds with Francis.

He told the Spanish publication there is a “strong sense” the Church is like a “ship without a helm, whatever the reason for this may be.” But he made it clear in the interview he was not “speaking out” against the Pontiff. He said the Pope is right to call on Catholics to “go out to the peripheries” but added “we cannot go to the peripheries empty-handed.”

“I wasn’t saying that the Holy Father’s idea is this,” he explained, “but I’ve seen other people using his words to justify a kind of ‘accommodation’ of the faith to the culture which can never be so.”

Burke told Breitbart his wish is “to present the Church’s teaching around which there’s been a great deal of confusion.” He pointed to last month’s synod on the family in Rome as partly to blame, and said those who identify with a “so-called reformist agenda” of Pope Francis are now trying “to discredit what I say by attributing it to some personal animosity toward the Holy Father, and that’s not right.”

Notable is Cardinal Burke’s assertion that during the Synod in October he “often heard” various prelates saying that the Church was going to need to change its teaching on the indissolubility of marriage because the culture has changed “so radically”. Burke criticizes such a defeatist (and, I think, faith-less) perspective, saying we cannot go chasing after the culture, but must “rather bring to the culture that which will save it and be full of hope.”

He also told Pentin that the head of the synod of bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who was appointed by Pope Francis last September, has “identified himself very strongly” with Kasper’s thesis and “subscribes to that school.” This follows on remarks made by Baldisseri earlier this year in an interview with the Belgian Christian weekly, Tertio

We also wish to update the apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, by Pope John Paul II from 1981.  That is the latest large document of the past thirty years on this issue. The Church is not timeless, it lives amid the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today. It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity of whoever receives that message. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family brought and I believe that the dynamics in two movements will enable us to more effectively respond to the expectations of the people.’

Read Pentin’s piece at

During the Synod, on October 14th, Cardinal Burke made the following statement to me in an e-mail interview:

CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.

In related news, on November 17th, Pope Francis will be giving an address at a colloquium, titled “Humanum”, in Vatican City, hosted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that will focus on the subject of the “Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage”. The opening remarks and welcome will be given by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who also happens to be one of the five Cardinals—including Burke—who contributed to the much discussed book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ.

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About Carl E. Olson 1201 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.