Pope Francis Does Cardinal Burke a Favor

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 29, 2014 | Categories: Bishops, Humor, Politics, Popes

While most of the world is thrilled by Pope Francis, a few are not.  One of the most outspoken is Raymond Cardinal Burke, 66.  burke purple

Cardinal Burke is a voice of conservatism in the Roman Catholic Church and American politics, and a prominent devotee of the Tridentine Mass.  He is intent on the “reform of the reform” of Vatican II.

Many photos of Cardinal Burke feature him in full regalia, a billowing cappa magna, lace rochet, velvet gauntlets, a towering mitre–the image of royalty, privilege and authority is unmistakable. That style is the polar opposite of Pope Francis, who is urging clerics to be pastors who “smell like their sheep.”  burke 11

Over the last year and a half Cardinal Burke has made a series of statements to the press challenging Pope Francis’ shift in pastoral style.  In an interview with the Spanish Catholic weekly Vida Nueva, published on October 30, 2014, Burke insisted he was not speaking out against the pope personally but raising concern about his leadership.

“Many have expressed their concerns to me.  At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,” Burke said. “Now, it is more important than ever to examine our faith, have a healthy spiritual leader and give powerful witness to the faith.”  burke hat

The “rudderless ship” remark was probably the last straw in a string of provocative challenges from Cardinal Burke.  On November 8, 2014 he was officially removed as head of the Vatican’s highest judicial authority, known as the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.  Obviously, he didn’t get the hint after he was dropped from the Congregation of Bishops in December 2013.  Cardinal Burke no longer holds any influential Vatican posts.  burke fur

At the same time, his appointment as Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta was announced.  The Knights of Malta were founded in 1048 and recognized as a lay religious order by Pope Paschal II in 1113.  It has a very elaborate hierarchy, with religious at the top, nobles next, and larger groups of knights and dames of common birth below them in their own separate categories and classes.  Each group has its own insignia, making the classes of persons easily recognizable.

Pope Francis has done Cardinal Burke a favor.  He will have ample opportunity to wear the finery he enjoys and not raise an eyebrow. The people around him will be dressed in equally rich, dramatic and historically meaningful capes and crosses.  He will also feel at home with people who are used to looking backward to the Middle Ages.  Burke10

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9 Responses to “Pope Francis Does Cardinal Burke a Favor”

  1. Póló Says:


    The man is clearly inadequate and should have been banished to some desert island to renew himself.

  2. Póló Says:

    I see a priest who tweeted Cardinal Burke to STFU has now lost his job as spokesman for the Basilian order.


  3. Póló Says:

    I trust you are heartened by the results of the Irish referendum on same sex marriage. The extent of the YES vote was unexpected despite it being predicted in the polls.

    Every bit as important as the result were the conversations in families in the run up to it. It has been a sea change in Irish society and its perception of itself.

    Hope you are well.

  4. Karen Says:

    I am sure there are some Catholics in the US that are still sitting down–too stunned to move. With the Irish vote, there is no going back to a pre-Vatican II, 1950s dream.

    The Catholic Church hierarchy, not secular society, is responsible for this debacle. The ocver-ups, the double-standard, the whole pretending about sexual lives and sexuality, ending up collapsing and bringing the moral authority of bishops along with it. The Irish vote was really a pro-vote for the highest ideals of the Church and Christianity: all are welcome, all are loved, all have worth. It’s a new day. Hooray for the Irish. And all thanks and praise to all the courageous people who came out to make this happen.

  5. Póló Says:

    I agree Karen.

    The Roman Catholic Church has missed so many opportunities to reform and stay in touch with the people. Major ones have been: the Reformation which should have been led by the church; the Modernists where the Church could have stayed relevant and the overcentralisation of power in the Vatican avoided; and Vatican II which had a reasonable, though not perfect development plan which was derailed by Vatican centralists and traditionalists. Make you cry.

    But I’m out of it this long while and am just keeping up an interest because of my baggage and a general interest in human rights.

    On the referendum result: the Church now has to decide how to respond. They have threatened to stop solemnising all civil marriages, and it remains to be seen whether this was a threat to influence voters or one they will now carry through. It will not be popular if they do and will probably accelerate the exodus.

    I have touched on it in some posts:

  6. Póló Says:

    Fr. Tony Flannery has tweeted a link to this article in NCR. It is a very good reference article for discussions on the nature of the family in the context of the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage, and in a more general context.

  7. Censor Liborium Says:

    Hi Polo,
    What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sending it to me. I hope Sr. Jeanine Gramick gets lots of press attention! I cannot understand why such a story is so terrifying and revolting to orthodox Catholics, including Archbishop Chaput. Is it the sex part, or the love part?

  8. Póló Says:


    Probably both, with a big dollop of insecurity over sexual identity thrown in.

  9. Patti Says:

    I bet he is a transvestite.

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