PopeWatch: Cardinal Burke Nails It

While almost all our hapless Cardinals sit mute, Cardinal Burke calls a spade a spade.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register gives us the news:

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Pope Francis is not only “refusing to clarify”  the Church’s doctrine and discipline but also “increasing the confusion” on the “most fundamental and important issues.”

In an interview Thursday with the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, the patron of the Order of Malta said the “confusion and division” in the Church on such important issues as marriage and the family, the sacraments, intrinsically evil acts, eternal life and the Last Things “are becoming more and more widespread.”

In spite of this, he said the Pope “not only refuses to clarify things by proclaiming the constant doctrine and sound discipline of the Church, a responsibility inherent in his ministry as the Successor of St. Peter, but he is also increasing the confusion.”

Asked if he was referring to statements coming from some of those who have spoken or met with the Pope (recently an Argentine sister said the Pope told her contraception is permissible in some cases, and a French priest said Francis condoned the blessing of homosexual couples), Cardinal Burke referred in particular to alleged comments the Pope made to the Italian atheist Eugenio Scalfari over Easter. Scalfari replorted in the La Repubblica newspaper that the Pope told him he doesn’t believe in the existence of hell, but that unrepentant sinners simply disappear.

That episode “went beyond what is tolerable,” Cardinal Burke said, adding that to have a well-known atheist speaking on behalf of the Pope in “denying the immortality of the human soul and the existence of hell, has been a source of profound scandal not only for many Catholics but also for many people in the secular world who have respect for the Catholic Church and its teachings, even if they do not share them.”

He also decried the fact that the story came out on Holy Thursday, “one of the holiest days of the year,” and that the Holy See’s response was “highly inadequate.”  

“Instead of clearly reasserting the truth about the immortality of the human soul and hell, the denial only states that some of the words quoted are not the Pope’s,” he said. “It does not say that the erroneous and even heretical ideas expressed by these words are not shared by the Pope, and that the Pope repudiates these ideas as contrary to the Catholic Faith.”

“This playing around with faith and doctrine, at the highest level of the Church, rightly leaves pastors and faithful scandalized,” Cardinal Burke added.

He went on to say the current situation is “further aggravated” by the silence of bishops and cardinals, and that ”the faithful who understand the gravity of the situation” are left feeling “lost” while those who don’t understand the crisis are left “in confusion and possibly victims of errors that are harmful to their souls.”

He also said those who have chosen to come into the Church “suffer intensely” from the situation as they perceive the Church is going down the same road of Protestant ecclesial communities and “abandoning the faith.”

Cardinal Burke alluded to an “apostasy from the faith” taking place within the Church and that in such a situation, bishops and cardinals “have the duty to proclaim true doctrine” and the College of Cardinals in particular must act as a “check against papal error.”

Go here to read the rest.  Never forget that when the clergy refuse to stand up for Catholic orthodoxy, the laity have a duty, not a right but a duty, to do so.  God forgive those Cardinals who by their silence deny Christ just as much as Peter did.



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  1. Once again, Pius VI’s auctorem fidei explains precisely that “ambiguity” was being deliberately used to “allow for error” and prophesied that it would return to the Church from time to time to do its work.
    Clarity? While the question of “intent” opens argument, the question of effect is now inarguable.

  2. As Cdl. Burke has spoken out so many times in the past, this time will be no different. There is a lot of TALK, but no ACTION. Where is the ‘Correction’?? Francis moves FAST but none of the Cardinals can keep up with him as they sit around and wring their hands wondering what can be done. The Church will be shattered to smithereens before they decide it’s time to do something.

  3. Speaking out is good, but TLM does have a point. The dubia is well past is answer date. It seems similar to those “laws on the books” you hear about that never get enforced – what good are they? No one could accuse the good Cardinal of not having given Bergoglio plenty of time to respond.

  4. What else can he do but talk? Unless a majority of the Cardinals are willing to act, and even then deposing a Pope might be impossible under current Canon Law, all that can be done is to point out at every opportunity that Pope Francis is seeking to pervert the teachings of the Church rather than to protect them, which is the main function of a pope.

  5. Cardinal: “high church official,” from Latin cardinalis (same meaning), from cardinalis (adjective) “principal, most important, of a hinge,” from cardo “hinge”….
    means a whole lot more than wearing a red hat and voting in the Sistine Chapel now and then. So to the Red Hat of Martyrs.

  6. OK, fine.
    But a Dubia follow up, where?
    The window of time on that issue has closed.
    Cdn. Burke has chosen to remain silent. Rome victorious.

  7. Anzlyne and Don L.

    This bullet point from Auctorum Fidei is interesting:
    Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.

    God bless Cardinal Burke for being vocal… again.
    Maybe more voices will join him. (?)
    Optimistic AND unrealistic at the same time…now that’s ambiguity for you.

  8. I’d like to raise one point that doesn’t seem to be addressed by Cardinal Burke or in any of the comments. If Pope Francis (Bergoglio) makes a statement that can be reliably imputed to him, and which statement denies Catholic Dogma or Doctrine, which is to say he commits heresy, does that imply that he, Bergoglio, is not truly the Pope? Or is it the case that if he is not speaking “Ex Cathedra”, pronouncing points of Dogma, he can say anything and still be truly the Pope? Are we to go back to the “Babylonian Captivity” when there were two Popes, one in Avignon and the other in Rome? I’m seeking information because as a non-cradle Catholic I am very confused by what’s been going on. (My wife, who is a cradle Catholic, is also disturbed.)

  9. Dr. Kurland, if the comments the Pope made according to Scalfari were actually made would have to be made publicly in order for the charge of formal heresy to be leveled. Not what he says privately.

  10. Thanks Greg,for words of clarity, but I’m still confused. Are comments a Pope makes to a reporter, which will/can be published public comments? In other words if a Pope denies Catholic teaching in conversations with his secretary or to his confessor, that’s private conversation. But if he talks to a reporter, then certainly he knows that his comments will be published. And Pope Francis (Bergoglio) has made many such to reporters on planes and in letters. Is it the case that only what a Pope says in encyclicals and homilies is subject to judgments of heresy?

  11. Dr. Kurland, I would think that the kind of formal heresy that might render a particular pope’s reign null would have to include an attempt to teach.

    Published remarks to a reporter, while gravely scandalous to be sure, do not constitute an organ of papal teaching. Although the idea of heresy rendering such pope’s reign null was held by some doctors of the Church like Bellarmine, it has not been addressed by the Magisterium.

  12. Donald R McClarey wrote, “even then deposing a Pope might be impossible under current Canon Law…”
    Can. 1404 Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur. [The First See is judged by no one.]
    The earliest assertion of this principle I have been able to trace is contained in two letters of Pope Gelasius in 493 and 495, during the Acacian Schism. Gelasius insists that, as judge of the whole Church, he stands before no tribunal and no judgment can be passed on his judgments.
    We find the same principle asserted by the First Vatican Council in Pastor Æternus: “And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, [12] and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, [13] and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. [14] Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.” The references are [12] From a Brief of Pins VI, Super Soliditate, 28 November 1706, [13] From the Acts of the Fourteenth General Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274, Labbe’s, Councils, vol. 14, p. 512, and [14] From Letter 8 of Pope Nicholas I, A.D. 858, to the Emperor Michael, in Labbe’s Councils, vol. 9, pp. 1339 and 1570.
    “neque cuiquam de eius licere iudicare iudicio” – nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment – is a clear echo of Pope Gelasius.

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