"Yes, I am a fundamentalist," says Cardinal Burke
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.
A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.
Just a couple of weeks after Pope Francis' warning about the dangers of fundamentalism, an Italian newspaper, Il Foglio published an interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke. The report ran with the screaming headline quote from Cardinal Burke, "Yes, I am a fundamenalist." Is this just coincidence or is this a direct slap in the face to Pope Francis?
(As an aside, Father Zuhlsdorf did a post lauding this interview, which is not the least bit surprising.)
It must be remembered that in February of 2015, Cardinal Burke did an interview with France2 television in which he said that he would resist Pope Francis if he felt it was necessary, as noted in a translation of the interview from Rorate Caeli. a far right wing bomb-throwing traditionalist blog that never hesitates to condemn Pope Francis and just about everyone and everything else in the post conciliar Church.
The questions in the France2 TV interview were very provocative. The interviewer actually asked Cardinal Burke how he intends to correct Pope Francis, and the interviewer also stated that he felt Cardinal Burke was a better defender of the faith than Pope Francis. Cardinal Burke seemed to have no problem with these questions:
[Recording of Francis in the Airplane interview of July 2013]: "If someone is gay, and he searches the Lord, and has good will, who am I to judge him?"As can be seen here, Cardinal Burke is saying that there is a time when the pope must be ignored. But then His Eminence goes even further, with the money quote that caused an earthquake:
-[Interviewer:] How do you intend to place pope Francis on the good path?
-[Burke, in Italian] On this, also one must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope. The classic formulation is that, "the Pope has the plenitude, the fullness, of power." This is true. But it is not absolute power. His power is at the service of the doctrine of the faith. And thus the Pope does not have the power to change teaching, doctrine.
-[Interviewer:] In a somewhat provocative way, can we say that the true guardian of doctrine is you, and not pope Francis?
-[Burke, in Italian:] [Smiles, shakes his head] We must, let us leave aside the matter of the Pope. In our faith, it is the truth of doctrine that guides us.
-[Interviewer:] If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?Cardinal Burke, for all intents and purposes, seemed to be promoting rebellion against the Holy Father.
-[Burke, in Italian:] I will resist. I cannot do anything else. There is no doubt that this is a difficult time, this is clear, this is clear.
A few days later, Cardinal Burke tried to clarify the statement with yet another interview, this time with Catholic News Agency:
Cardinal Raymond Burke has clarified comments about Pope Francis and Catholic doctrine saying that he was talking about a hypothetical situation.It is interesting to note that at the end of the interview, Cardinal Burke does refer to the divine protection of the Church:
The outspoken cardinal said on Monday that he would resist any move by Pope Francis to deviate from Catholic doctrine but has since said that he was talking about a “hypothetical situation”.
Cardinal Burke told Catholic News Agency yesterday, “I simply affirmed that it is always my sacred duty to defend the truth of the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding marriage.”
He added: “No authority can absolve me from that responsibility, and, therefore, if any authority, even the highest authority, were to deny that truth or act contrary to it, I would be obliged to resist, in fidelity to my responsibility before God.”
-[Interviewer:] According to you, today, is the Catholic Church under threat as an institution?Cardinal Burke does not answer the question of whether the Church is "under threat as an institution". However, he does say that the forces of evil will not prevail. Who are those forces of evil? The entire interview was about Pope Francis and other bishops who oppose Cardinal Burke. So one can only assume that these are the "evil forces" he is referring to. And as also stated in this interview, His Eminence has come to the conclusion that if the Pope is on the wrong path, then he - Cardinal Burke - must resist the Holy Father.
-[Burke, in Italian:] The Lord assured us, as he assured Saint Peter in the Gospel, that the forces of evil will not prevail -- non praevalebunt, we say in Latin. That the forces of evil will not achieve, let us say, victory over the Church.
It should also be noted that a couple of months after these interviews, Cardinal Burke, along with Cardinal George Pell, endorsed radical traditionalists who denounce Vatican II and the "Novus Ordo" Mass as I wrote about HERE. These radical traditionalists definitely view Pope Francis as their enemy.
Further, Cardinal Burke gave an exclusive interview to the aforementioned bomb-throwing Rorate Caeli about a month after the France2 interview. (Traditionalists are always complaining about all of the interviews that Pope Francis does. His Holiness has nothing on Cardinal Burke.) In the Rorate interview, Cardinal Burke once again advocated that Catholics should basically disregard Pope Francis:
Rorate Caeli: After eight years under Pope Benedict XVI, clergy, laymen, even the media became accustomed to clarity. With so much confusion stemming from the daily statements of Pope Francis, confusion from the Synod, et cetera, is it best to focus more on the local and parish level and on the Church’s tradition, rather than looking for specific guidance from Rome on issues of the day?
Card. Burke: Yes, I think that, in fact, Pope Francis himself has given that indication. For instance in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he says that he doesn’t consider it to be a magisterial teaching. (n. 16) With someone like Pope Benedict XVI, we had a master teacher who was giving us extended catechesis on various subjects. I now say to people that, if they are experiencing some confusion from the method of teaching of Pope Francis, the important thing is to turn to the catechism and to what the Church has always taught, and to teach that, to foster it at the parish level, beginning first with the family. We can’t lose our energy being frustrated over something that we think we should be receiving and we’re not. Instead, we know for sure what the Church has always taught, and we need to rely on that and concentrate our attention on that.Cardinal Burke is telling people that if they don't like what they hear from Pope Francis, then ignore him. Don't listen with an open mind. Don't bother praying about it. Don't ask any other hierarchy in the church for clarification. Don't give weight to the fact that Pope Francis is not just any man but the Vicar of Christ. Just ignore him and do what you believe is right.
Cardinal Burke told no lie when he said that he is a fundamentalist. Cardinal Burke is the walking definition of a fundamentalist.
So what? What is wrong with being a fundamentalist?
As Pope Francis explained in his speech to the United States Congress, the problem with fundamentalism is that it sees everything in black and white. As far as the fundamentalist is concerned, everything he believes is absolutely and without question correct, and anyone who does not agree with his beliefs is a heretic. And because he is 100% correct in everything he believes, the fundamentalist has a right to impose his beliefs on others.
One of the major components of fundamentalism is judging others, which of course goes completely against the teaching of Jesus Christ who said, "Judge not that you not be judged." (Matt. 7:3). A fundamentalist has no use for the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 6:37:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.A fundamentalist is unable to understand the meaning of St. Paul's words in Romans 14:10:
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.A fundamentalist never questions himself. Contrariwise, one of the major components of being a true follower of Jesus Christ - as opposed to a fundamentalist - is constantly questioning ourselves. Yes, we believe with all of our hearts and minds that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We never doubt the words of Jesus Christ and, as Catholics, we never doubt the teachings of the Mystical Body of Christ, against whom Our Lord promised the gates of hell will never prevail. But we have no confidence in ourselves or our own judgments. With St. John the Baptist we say, "He [Jesus] must increase and I must decrease."
Why doesn't a Christian trust his own judgments? The more grounded and confident we are in the truths of Jesus Christ, the less self confidence we have because we realize that our own nature has become totally corrupted by sin, and it is only the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit that can lead us out of that. As St. Paul wrote, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7:24-25).
I toughen my body with punches and make it my slave so that I will not be disqualified after I have spread the Good News to others.It is precisely because a Christian knows that he has done nothing to merit the forgiveness of his sins that he will not judge another. A follower of Jesus Christ will never hesitate to tell you the dangers of sin and hopefully will never personally compromise with sin. But he will never point the finger at other sinners. As Bishop Fulton Sheen said in this famous quote:
However, a fundamentalist never takes this fact into consideration. A fundamentalist believes that he can look at another human being and judge the state of his soul. A fundamentalist, in effect, plays God, deciding who is right and who is wrong.
There can also be no doubt that Cardinal Burke knows exactly how Pope Francis feels about fundamentalism, and yet His Eminence publicly states that he is a fundamentalist. That is a public slap in the face to Pope Francis.
We live in very dangerous times. As Pope Francis has warned us time and time again, Satan is very active. The adversary is easily seen in our culture in the forms of entertainment and politics. But that is not where Satan is the most dangerous. As St. Paul warned in II Corinthians 11:14, Satan often masquerades as an angel of light. That is where he does the most damage. Satan will give you 99% truth, but lace it with just enough lies to poison you. It only takes a few drops of arsenic to kill, and Satan knows this only too well.
Those who trust in themselves and their own judgments easily play into Satan's hands. If Satan can convince you of your own righteousness, then he owns you. That is the danger of fundamentalism, and sadly, we are seeing this not only in the laity, but in church leaders such as Cardinal Burke.
I don't know how all of this is going to play out. I do fear we are headed for a major schism in the Church, and I believe the epicenter will be the traditionalist movement. I am taking the advice given thousands of years ago by Moses to the children of Israel: Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
When King Jehoshaphat went to battle against Israel's enemies, he prayed and was then told by one of one of the prophets:
Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
Christ says he fights our battles for us. I intend to let Him do just that.