PopeWatch: Cardinal Burke




Well, this is interesting.  Father Z has an excerpt of an interview which appeared in The Wanderer with Cardinal Burke, and Father Z supplies some commentary:


At my old stomping ground The Wanderer (I had a weekly column for 11 years) there is an interview with His Eminence Raymond Leo Card. Burke.  Read the whole thing there, but here is a sample of Part One of the interview, with my patented treatment.


Q. Returning to a point you previously mentioned [about the last, controversial Synod of Bishops], you noted that even though three contentious paragraphs [on divorced, civilly remarried and homosexuals] failed to garner the required two-thirds majority, they were included in the final relatio. You subsequently called for these “hot-button topics” to be removed from consideration. Do you think there is a legitimate possibility that they will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod?
In the meantime, how can faithful Catholics respond to questions regarding the perception of many that the Church is on the verge of changing her teaching? What positive steps can be taken by the laity?

A. I trust that there is a possibility that these topics will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod — that is precisely why I have insisted upon it. But it will not happen easily because those insisting on their consideration are in positions of great influence with regard to the Synod of Bishops.  [Whom I suspect have strong reasons for those paragraphs to remain at the heart of the final resulting document.]
The Church cannot change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the grave sinfulness of sexual relations outside the matrimonial union and the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts. [Before some nitwit out there says that “Burke is a homophobe!”, note that he speaks of “acts” not “persons”.]
The laity needs to nourish themselves with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium on marriage, with the teaching that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They must also give witness to it in their everyday dealings, not only with other Catholics but with people who are not of the Catholic Faith, to make it clear that the Church is not changing her teaching — indeed, that she cannot.  [That’s right.  And it is even more important, by factors of hundreds, for priests and bishops to do this in the clearest possible language.  We must not rest or be complacent, because the … other side is not going to be!]
I am hopeful that there will be opportunities for the lay faithful to take part in days of study with regard to the Church’s teaching on marriage and its beauty. I also hope that there might be demonstrations and other public manifestations in support of the truth about marriage.

Q. “Who am I to judge?” continues to be a phrase that is used and misused by the media and is a source of confusion among many of the lay faithful. In your opinion, what steps need to be taken by the Church’s Magisterium to correct misperceptions of this statement? When is it acceptable to make judgments and when is it not?

A. The phrase “Who am I to judge?” is one that I have to understand according to sound Catholic teaching and practice, namely, “Who am I to judge the individual?” We have always withheld judgment on an individual because to be in grave sin, one must have knowledge and full consent of the will. The Church has always taught that we love the sinner, but we hate the sin.
On the other hand, a person is bound to judge evil acts as evil. We cannot pretend — tolerance cannot fly in the face of truth. We are held to judge if we see an act which is objectively disordered — to make that judgment. For instance, if people are involved in extramarital activities, one must be charitable to them, loving the sinner but at the same time being very clear that the acts they are committing are gravely immoral.


And then…


Q. Please comment on the connection between the Sacred Liturgy and the New Evangelization. [A good question!  I think there is a straight line between them, so much so that without a renewal of our sacred worship, using what Summorum Pontificum has given us, no of “New Evangelization” can succeed.] Is the Sacred Liturgy a peripheral matter to the preaching of the Gospel? Or does the Sacred Liturgy play an essential role in the Gospel imperative to proclaim Jesus Christ? If the two activities of the Church are in fact essentially connected, how can this connection be shown more clearly and lived more compellingly within the ordinary parish setting? Does a wide celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass have any part to play in the efforts of the New Evangelization?

A. The Sacred Liturgy is absolutely the first act of the New Evangelization. [YES!  I recently heard another Cardinal speak about various challenges we face and the issue of liturgy didn’t come up until about 47 minutes into the presentation.] Unless we worship God in spirit and in truth, unless we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy with the greatest possible faith in God and faith in the divine action which takes place in Holy Mass, we are not going to have the inspiration and the grace to carry out the New Evangelization.
The Sacred Liturgy shows us the form of the New Evangelization because it is a direct encounter with the mystery of faith: Christ’s redemptive Incarnation for the sake of conquering sin in our lives and winning for us the grace of the divine life, a share in the life of the Holy Trinity through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
The first three commandments all have to do with the worship of God. It is the Sacred Liturgy which establishes a right relationship with God and with one another which we are called to live in our daily lives.  [Exactly what I am always harping about.]
The way this connection can be more compellingly lived in parish life is by celebrating the Sacred Liturgy in such a way that all of the faithful understand that the priest is acting in the person of Christ. They must understand that it is Christ Himself Who is descending to our altars to make truly present His sacrifice; that they must unite their hearts to His own glorious pierced Heart to cleanse them from sin and thus strengthen them for love of God and love of neighbor.
If the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in an anthropocentric way, in a horizontal way in which it is no longer evident that it is a divine action, it simply becomes a social activity that can be relativized along with everything else — it doesn’t have any lasting impact on one’s life.  [Alas, the Novus Ordo lends itself, through its structure, wordiness, options, etc., to this horizontality.]
I think the celebration of the Extraordinary Form can have a very significant part to play in the New Evangelization because of its emphasis on the transcendence of the Sacred Liturgy. In other words, it emphasizes the reality of the union of Heaven and earth through the Sacred Liturgy. The action of Christ through the signs of the sacrament, through His priests, is very evident in the Extraordinary Form. It helps us, then, to be more reverent also in the celebration of the Ordinary Form. [And, I’ll add, it is good to use it not just because it helps reverence in the Ordinary Form.  The use of the Extraordinary Form is good in itself and not just because there are other practical knock-on effects.]


Regarding both issues I excerpted for this post, I remind the readership that …

… if we are not on offense, we are on defense.

We must not be complacent.

We cannot forget about what happened at the last Synod of Bishops and then imagine that everything is going to be smooth and perfect at the next meeting in October 2015.  The “hot button” issues are not going away.  They are not going to die out.  On the contrary.

Also, we have Summorum Pontificum.   USE. IT.  Those of you who have obtained what you want… don’t just sit complacently and imagine that everything is fine now and that you don’t have to do anything else.  In fact, some of you may simply be benefiting from the efforts and sacrifices of others.   GET TO WORK.   Get involved.  Make the use of the older, traditional use of Holy Mass and sacraments spread.   Form an “action item” group.  Develop some projects and goals.   Help priests who want to learn to learn.  Advertise, invite, persuade.  Take out ads in papers.

Father Z is absolutely correct.  This is no time for orthodox Catholics to sit on their hands and bemoan the state of the Church.  Action is called for.  As Pope Francis has recommended, “make a mess”.

More to explorer


  1. Thanks be to God for Cardinal Burke as well as Father Z.
    I also appreciated the point in the article about the so-called development of doctrine. It is not that the doctrine actually develops- the doctrine stays the same; but our understanding of the doctrine develops.
    As you say, this is no time to sit on our hands. This blog is surely helping people to grow in their understanding and appreciation of the true faith. I like the idea of forming action groups, but so much depends on priests being willing to be active in that way.

  2. Cardinal Burke correctly insists on placing the individual’s free will at the core of that person’s destiny. An individual’s refusal to take responsibility for himself is immaturity, no matter what his chronological age. If an individual does not petition God for Divine Providence and then gets nothing, to Whom ought he complain? At the least, if one’s petition is answered with a resounding “NO”, the individual has a starting point, a point of reference for his journey to pursue his Happiness.
    The homosexual relationship lacks the completeness of beauty. “Whom am I to judge” exactly is the response of the immature individual in a homosexual union. Without acknowledging the Beatific Vision of God in heaven, the homosexual has no grasp or understanding of Beauty. Without Beauty the individual cannot love completely or give himself completely. “Who am I to judge a half consummated relationship”
    The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony can only be consummated in the Beauty of God. Informed consent and the conjugal act, also called the marital act, are required.
    But who am I to judge? An individual knows the sin of sodomy is not happiness or Beauty because he refuses to allow God into his relationship. God will not force an individual to heaven. Only the devil forces souls into hell, but the devil will not help a soul into heaven.
    Now, we have Pope Francis forcing souls into the Catholic Church for the purpose of forcing their souls into heaven. Stiff-necked, the homosexual will not go. Will the sodomist then spit the Holy Communion out as they did in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City?
    The priest, and Pope Francis is a priest, the priest’s job is to minister first to God and the people of God through God. Without God we may all be going to hell.

  3. The only thing I can add to what Mary stated so eloquently is what St. Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 6:3:
    Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!

  4. Philip, Paul, Anzlyne and The American Catholic: It is with great joy that I bring all of us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Tabernacle on the altar whenever I am able.

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