Cardinal Raymond Burke has once again shown that he is out of step with the message of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Burke has aligned himself with radical traditionalists, as he did when endorsing the Roman Forum, a group of Traditionalists who reject Vatican II and the "Novus Ordo" Mass. He gives interviews to radical traditionalists as he did with Michael Matt of The Remnant Newspaper. Cardinal Burke has been unceasing in both direct and indirect criticism of Pope Francis. He is one of the four cardinals to publicly call out Pope Francis about the teaching on marriage, demanding answers to questions for which, as he admitted to Michael Matt, he already knows the answers, proving that his intent was clearly to trap Pope Francis, just as the Pharisees posed questions to Christ merely as entrapment.
MJM: Now, in a private letter of September 5th to the bishops of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis wrote: “There are no other interpretations of Amoris Laetitia,” other than one admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion in some cases. He is so adamant about this, Your Eminence. So, is it even possible for you to envision a scenario whereby you suddenly discover that you've missed something, that the Four Cardinals are misinterpreting it, and that you'd have to concede you were wrong? I mean if that’s not possible, then what is the point of the dubia? Don’t you already know the answers to your five questions?
Cardinal Burke: Certainly we do. But the important thing is that the pastor of the universal Church, in his office as guardian of the truths of the Faith and promoter of the truths of the faith—that he make clear that, yes, he answers these questions in the same way that the Church answers them. And so what he wrote in that letter simply means that this is his personal understanding of the matter. But that letter hardly could be considered an exercise of the papal magisterium. And so, it's a painful situation in which to be involved but we simply have to press forward to clarify the matter.And now Cardinal Burke has given yet another speech in which he promotes further dissension towards Pope Francis and clearly shows that he, Cardinal Burke, is not the least interested in bringing the saving message of forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ to the world.
That is a pretty heavy charge, but after reading the speech he gave a couple of weeks ago in Kentucky, there is no other way to interpret his statements.
This is a speech given on July 22, 2017 entitled, "Developing lives of Peace After the Heart of Mary." I certainly like that title. And I most certainly agree with the first few paragraphs of Cardinal Burke's speech in which he describes our poor, sick world.
Secularization has ravaged the culture of many nations, especially in the West, alienating culture from its only true source in God and His plan for us and our world. There is the daily and widespread attack on innocent and defenseless human life with the resulting unprecedented violence in family life and in society, in general. There is the ever more virulent gender ideology which propagates total confusion about our identity as male and female, and leads to the profound unhappiness and even self-destruction of many in society. There is also the denial of the freedom of religion which attempts to hinder, if not snuff out completely, any public discourse about God and our necessary relationship with Him.
. . .
At the same time, atheistic materialism and relativism leads to the unscrupulous pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power, while the rule of law, dictated by justice, is trampled underfoot. In such a pervasively disordered cultural condition, there is legitimate fear of a global confrontation which can only mean destruction and death for many. Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation.Then Cardinal Burke give us the solution, as he sees it, to this dire situation in which we find ourselves:
The world has never needed more the solid teaching and direction which Our Lord, in His immeasurable and unceasing love of man, wishes to give to the world through His Church and especially through her pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests.The world is dying, and Cardinal Burke thinks the solution is to teach?! Well yes, of course, you say. If people could learn the right way to live, all of our problems would be solved. If that is what you believe, then you don't know anything about the nature of sin and fallen human nature. If teaching is all that was necessary to save the world, then why did Christ have to suffer and die so terribly on the Cross? Why was it necessary for Him to pour out every ounce of Sacred Blood in his body in order to bring us to salvation? Why wasn't it enough for Our Lord to just tell us what to do, and then leave us to it?
It isn't a matter of just learning what is right and wrong. Certainly no one knew right from wrong better than St. Paul, and yet he still found it impossible to obey God. Romans 7:15-19:
So if knowing the Law of God and even desiring to obey God is not enough, then what is the answer? Verses 24-25:
Just telling people what is right and wrong and then leaving them on their own is exactly what the Pharisees did in the time of Jesus. As Jesus Christ said, all the Pharisees accomplished was to place heavy burdens on the people while not lifting a finger to help them (Matthew 23:40).
No one can change without the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. We can have all knowledge, but without grace, we have nothing.
Through St. Faustina, our Lord told us that our job is not to be teachers, as such, but to bring His Divine Mercy to the world:
"Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, 300)
"I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine toward the souls of sinners. Let no sinner be afraid to approach Me" (50).
Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. It is not my desire to punish hurting mankind, but to heal it, press it to My merciful Heart (Diary, 1588).
"I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be strengthened in goodness. Whoever places his trust in My mercy will be filled with My divine peace at the hour of death" (1520).
"The Lord said to me, ‘It should be of no concern to you how anyone else acts; you are to be My living reflection, through love and mercy.’ I answered, ‘Lord, but they often take advantage of my goodness.’ ‘That makes no difference, My daughter. That is no concern of yours. As for you, be always merciful toward other people, and especially toward sinners’ " (1446).
“'Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy.'” (No. 301)
“The Lord said to me, ‘The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness. You always console Me when you pray for sinners. The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners. Know, My daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered.’” (No. 1397)
“All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” (No. 1507)
“I realize more and more how much every soul needs God’s mercy throughout life and particularly at the hour of death. This chaplet (of Divine Mercy) mitigates God’s anger, as He Himself told me.” (No. 1036)
I must never judge anyone, but look at others with leniency and at myself with severity. I must refer everything to God and, in my own eyes, recognize myself for what I am: utter misery and nothingness. In suffering, I must be patient and quiet, knowing that everything passes in time. (No. 253)Yet, Cardinal Burke never comes even close to preaching God's mercy. A word search of Cardinal Burke's speech reveals that he does not even use the words "mercy" or "forgiveness." To him, everything is about justice. As we are told in one article [HERE], Cardinal Burke did a series on Mercy in 2016. Once again, the reason for this series on Mercy was to oppose Pope Francis. As the article tells us:
Cardinal Burke has recently concluded a 5-part series reflection on DIVINE MERCY & JUSTICE in the wake of the publication of Pope Francis’ book: The Name of God Is Mercy. He notes at this time when there is a widespread discussion of mercy, he fears there is a risk of making Mercy a slogan which lacks a profound understanding of its meaning in the Church’s constant teaching and that various difficult situations in the Church today are easily dismissed by invoking God’s mercy.
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He concludes by stating that Mercy does not constitute an easy response to the great challenges of the Christian life in the world, a response which may ignore the demands of justice. It constitutes rather the response which engages all of our intelligence and will, according to the plan of God for us and for our world.I guess this is Cardinal Burke's response to the many quotes from St. Faustina's diary. According to Cardinal Burke, we can't forget about justice! But what does our Lord say about this? Yes, he tells us that the day of justice is coming, but right now is the day of mercy:
Speak to the world about My mercy ... It is a sign for the end times. After it will come the Day of Justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fountain of My mercy. (Diary 848)I guess that despite the direct command given by Jesus Christ to St. Faustina, Cardinal Burke is much more interested in speaking about the day of justice than in bringing people to Divine Mercy. And that, in a nutshell, is why he is so opposed to Pope Francis.
Continuing on in Cardinal Burke's speech:
But, in a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church, so that she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture.Cardinal Burke says the Church has lost her way by drawing too close to the culture, and gives the following as an example:
For example, after the June 30th decision of the German Parliament to accept so-called “same-sex marriage,” the President of Conference of Bishops in Germany declared that the decision was not a major concern for the Church which, according to him, should be more concerned about intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction. Clearly, in such an approach, there is no longer the just and necessary distinction between the love which we as Christians must always have for the person involved in sin and the hatred which we also must always have for sinful acts.There are several important facts which are omitted from this example. First, the German Bishops Conference vehemently objected to the legalization of same sex marriage in Germany:
Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin expressed his regret Friday at the German parliament’s vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, saying it had abandoned the fundamental characteristics of marriage.
“The fathers of the (German) constitution gave marriage such pride of place because they wanted to protect and strengthen those who, as a mother and father, want to give life to their children.”
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He went on to stress that the Church’s understanding of marriage and its sacramental nature have not changed with the law, and that Catholics must continue to present publicly the truth and goodness of the reality of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“As the Catholic Church, we will now increasingly face the challenge of convincingly presenting the vitality of the Catholic understanding of marriage,” he said. “At the same time, I recall that the sacramental character of our marriage understanding remains unaffected by today's decision in the Bundestag.”
To be fair, this was not the subject of Cardinal Burke's example, but that of Cardinal Reinhard Marx. I just wanted to show that the German cardinals are completely in line with Church teaching. And contrary to Cardinal Burke's assertion, his colleague, Cardinal Marx, is also completely in line with Church teaching.
According to an article from La Croix, these are the sentiments of Cardinal Marx:
Marx, who is head of the German bishops’ conference and one of Pope Francis’ chief advisors and allies, stated clearly that he firmly upholds the Church’s view on marriage. But in a lengthy interview published on July 14th, he said the Church must also [meaning "in addition", not "in place of"] express its regret that it did nothing historically to oppose the prosecution of homosexuals.
He told the Augsburger Allgemeine that Church must continue to state its teaching that marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman. But at the same time, he said it’s also imperative “to recall that the Church has not exactly been a trailblazer as far as the rights of homosexuals are concerned”. [In other words, how we treat people is just as important as the teaching of the Church.]
“We must express our regret that we did nothing to oppose homosexuals from being prosecuted,” said the 63-year-old Marx.
“The law (which made homosexuality a crime) was not rescinded until 1994 (in Germany) and we, as a Church, did not concern ourselves with it," he confessed.
As the article states, Cardinal Marx "stated clearly that he firmly upholds the Church’s view on marriage." Further on the article states that Cardinal Marx "fully supports the Governor of Bavaria’s plans to appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the same sex marriage law." But as a good shepherd, Cardinal Marx, in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sees homosexuals as people who "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." (No. 2358). I guess Cardinal Burke somehow missed this part of the Catechism.
As can be clearly seen here, Cardinal Burke was actually promoting a lie when he accused Cardinal Marx of declaring that the legalization of same sex marriage "was not a major concern for the Church which, according to him, should be more concerned about intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction." This statement of Cardinal Burke is only more proof that he is much more concerned about "justice" than he is about "mercy" and he will actually twist the words of his fellow cardinals to prove the his point.
I cannot go through every point made in Cardinal Burke's speech, but the rest of the speech was basically to tell us that we don't have to listen to Pope Francis if we don't agree with him. As Cardinal Burke tells us, most of the time Pope Francis is no different from any other Joe on the street corner, and his words carry no more weight than anyone else.
Regarding the frequent statements of Pope Francis, there has developed a popular understanding that every statement of the Holy Father must be accepted as papal teaching or magisterium. The mass media has certainly wanted to pick and choose among the declarations of Pope Francis, in order to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is undergoing a revolution and is changing radically its teaching on certain key questions of faith and especially of morals. The matter is complicated because Pope Francis regularly chooses to speak in a colloquial manner, whether during interviews given on airplanes or to news outlets, or in spontaneous remarks to various groups. Such being the case, when one places his remarks within the proper context of the teaching and practice of the Church, he may be accused of speaking against the Holy Father. I recall one of the eminent Fathers of the Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops, held during October of 2014, approaching me during a break to say: “What is going on? Those of us who are upholding what the Church has always taught and practiced are now called enemies of the Pope?” As a result, one is tempted to remain silent or to try to explain doctrinally a language which confuses or even contradicts doctrine.Cardinal Burke is telling us here that because Pope Francis makes himself freely available to people and to giving interviews, and is not speaking in a formal document, therefore we don't have to listen to him. We are thus free to disagree with and criticize the Holy Father in any way we wish. Certainly the "mass media" does this, so why shouldn't the rest of us? However, Cardinal Burke doesn't tell you that he actually goes much further than this.
In a April 2016 editorial in the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke made it very clear that the does not consider Amoris Laetitia to be an official document of the Church.
The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium. The very form of the document confirms the same. It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops. For instance, in Chapter Eight, which some wish to interpret as the proposal of a new discipline with obvious implications for the Church’s doctrine, Pope Francis, citing his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, declares:
How in the world does the quote cited from Pope Francis prove that Amoris Laetitita is not an "act of the magesterium"? This is what Cardinal Burke tells us:I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (308).
In other words, the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for his Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.” The personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature of the document is also evident in the fact that the references cited are principally the final report of the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops and the addresses and homilies of Pope Francis himself. There is no consistent effort to relate the text, in general, or these citations to the magisterium, the Fathers of the Church and other proven authors.Is His Eminence kidding us? Is he actually trying to tell us that any time the Pope states something without referring to an official text that we don't need to listen to him? One of the biggest problems with this statement is that Pope Francis did refer to an official text of the Church, which was his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Of course this does not have the weight of an encyclical, but it is also not something we can use to line the bird cage.
Pope Francis is the vicar of Christ. He is most certainly a fallible human being and as he has told us, he is a sinner. But that doesn't mean we can just treat him like any other person in the Church. Cardinal Burke puts great weight on all of his own statements and expect us to do the same. That is even more true with Pope Francis. Of course we don't have to agree with everything that comes out of the Pope's mouth, but we cannot just blithely dismiss it because it doesn't fit in with our world view. I have often been perplexed by the Pope's statements, but when I study into them, I have invariably found that he is correct and as a result, my faith has grown deeper. I cannot say the same about Cardinal Burke.
Cardinal Burke then insults our intelligence by telling us in his speech that discounting the words of Pope Francis will actually deepen our respect for the Papacy:
Making the distinction between the two types of discourse of the Roman Pontiff is, in no way, disrespectful of the Petrine Office. Much less, does it constitute enmity of Pope Francis. In fact, to the contrary, it shows ultimate respect for the Petrine Office and for the man to whom Our Lord has entrusted it (????!!!!). Without the distinction, we would easily lose respect for the Papacy or be led to think that, if we do not agree with the personal opinions of the man who is Roman Pontiff, then we must break communion with the Church.Oh, come on! Cardinal Burke is saying that if we actually start to listen to Pope Francis, we will lose respect for him, so therefore, we better start shutting our ears to the Vicar of Christ. The only reason we "lose respect" for the Papacy is because we insist that our views and beliefs are absolutely correct and not even the Vicar of Christ can tell us any differently.
Cardinal Burke also uses the same tired argument used by all those who hate the pope, and that is that anyone who actually agrees with Pope Francis is guilty of papal idolatry:
While maintaining firmly the Catholic faith in what pertains to the Petrine Office, we cannot fall into an idolatry of the papacy which would make every word spoken by the Pope to be doctrine, even if it is construed to be contrary to the very word of Christ, for example, regarding the indissolubility of marriage. Rather, with the Successor of Peter, we should strive to understand more and more fully the word of Christ, in order to live it more and more perfectly.The real problem Cardinal Burke has with Pope Francis is that Cardinal Burke is all about law and justice. As he said at the beginning of his speech, the world needs "solid teaching and direction." Mercy and compassion have no place in his view of the world. This is in direct contrast to the message given directly by Jesus Christ to St. Faustina. Our Lord said that right now the world is in desperate need of His Divine Mercy.
This is not to say that there is no need for "solid teaching and direction," But this comes after people have received the Mercy of Jesus Christ. Once we receive his mercy and grace into our lives and have become a new creation, THEN we are ready for "solid teaching and direction." It just won't work any other way.
Pope Francis, in his role as the Vicar of Christ, has become the spokesperson for Divine Mercy. He is fulfilling that role to the best of his capacity. This is where Jesus Christ is working, and if we refuse to listen to the Pope, we are refusing to listen to Jesus Christ. We saw an example of this in today's first reading of the Mass.
From Numbers 12:
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman. They complained, "Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks? Does he not speak through us also?" And the LORD heard this.Miriam and Aaron were defying Moses, who was God's representative. Notice that the reading says they spoke against Moses "on the pretext" of his marriage of a Cushite woman. The truth is they just didn't like the fact that Moses was getting all the attention from God. They wanted to be in the driver's seat.
God personally came to Miriam and Aaron and declared that Moses was his chosen servant, and they had no right to speak against him. God then struck Miriam with leprosy for her rebellion.
We really need to take notice of this. Jesus Christ has made it plain that now is the time of Divine Mercy and that is the message he wants spread around the world because this is what will draw sinners to him. This was the driving mission of Pope St. John Paul II and is now also the driving mission of our current pontiff, Pope Francis. Resisting this message, as Cardinal Burke seems to be doing, will put us in the same camp as Miriam and Aaron.