Burke cancels speech to avoid clash with bishops

From The Tablet, June 3:

One of the Church’s highest-ranking prelates said he pulled out from a conference of traditionalist Catholics in London because his participation could have been seen as a mark of disrespect to the bishops of England and Wales. In a letter to Daphne McLeod, the Chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the group he was due to be addressing, Cardinal Raymond Burke said that concern was raised about his attendance at the June 18 event by “various sources” including “devout and faithful Catholics” in England. Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, whose speech was titled “The restoration of church discipline and evangelisation,” noted that the text on the event registration form stated “our bishops are obdurate in their refusal to allow our glorious Catholic faith to be taught in the schools.” Mrs. McLeod told him that while her group are often seen as “whistleblowers who are inevitably unpopular with the establishment” they always show respect to the bishops. She pleaded with the cardinal to reconsider his decision to withdraw from speaking and asked him how she was supposed to pay an outstanding £5,000  bill (= $8,200 – ed.) for the hire of venue and dinner after the conference.


  1. As a gesture of goodwill and respect, I’m sure His Eminence can dip into his wardrobe budget, fore-go a miter, galero or mini-cappa, and cover the expense of the event.

  2. Y’know, Dismas, I would imagine that many of his eminence’s vestments and such are gifts, and didn’t cost him or the church a thing.

  3. Mr. Drake – wouldn’t presume that. If he auctioned off a few pair of gloves, he could cover the cost of his no show.

    Like Rita, find his behaviors, decisions, and “alternative church” to be polarizing and divisive. When archbishop of STL, he traveled frequently as the designated bishop for “consecrated virgin” ceremonies – as if local bishops could not do this or even local pastors?

    1. Bill,
      Who in their right mind would buy those gloves? The vesture is the last hoorah for a time long gone. It is sad to see this with so many problems in the Church. Retrenchment is not the answer. Somehow I don’t think dressing up this way will bring 18-35 year olds back to the Church. This age group is not with us. I think we need to ask “will our faith have children”?

  4. John – While there may not have been a dollars and cents cost to the cardinal or the church, the Church is indeed paying a very dear price… again.

  5. Bill wrote:

    When archbishop of STL, he traveled frequently as the designated bishop for “consecrated virgin” ceremonies – as if local bishops could not do this or even local pastors?

    Bill, firstly, a local pastor cannot receive the vows of a consecrated virgin. Only a bishop can do so.

    Before he went to Rome, then Abp. Burke was the episcopal moderator of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins. This special relationship and role of support for CV’s is, I think, sufficient explanation for His Eminence’s involvement in their consecration liturgies. It’s hardly, as you seem to imply, something untoward. No doubt many of the women seeking to make their vows asked him to receive them, in view of his official role with their association. I would imagine that the diocesan bishops, in those situations, would have graciously given permission for Burke to receive their vows.

    The current episcopal moderator of the US Association of Consecrated Virgins is Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan. I happen to know that Bishop Boyea counts it as a joy and privilege to take on this role, as Cardinal Burke did.

    A question: why the scare quotes for “consecrated virgins”? It is an ancient and venerable state of life in the Church. See, for example, paragraphs 922-924 of the Catechism.

    More info about consecrated virgins in the U.S can be found at:


    1. Before he went to Rome, then Abp. Burke was the episcopal moderator of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins. This special relationship and role of support for CV’s is, I think, sufficient explanation for His Eminence’s involvement in their consecration liturgies.
      Sounds like the cardinal enjoys junkets, as well as
      collecting cappas and the like. It should immediately
      raise the suspicion, why can’t the local bishop consecrate
      his own virgins? I’d send this guy packing back to Wisconsin or wherever he came from.

      1. Dunstan, do we know whether or not local bishops asked Cardinal Burke to celebrate the consecration? Or if the women themselves (or the US ACV) asked for him to do so?

        Why the jump to suspicion?

    2. My point – the local bishop should handle these things and, in fact, could delegate to a diocesan vicar or even pastor.

      I have seen many “consecrated virgins” and, unfortunately in my experience, it did not instill in me great confidence – why, many of these very young people were making lifelong vows way too early with the “misguided” support and encouragement of folks that should no better.

      You cite history to justify c.v. – wonder if the church has progressed enough to change the role of c.v. in the 21st century. The church used to have eunuchs also.

      1. Is it possible that the local bishops permitted Cdl. Burke to celebrate the consecrations?

        What in particular would you suggest needs changing in the role of consecrated virgins in the 21st century?

        (The rite for consecration, as restored by Paul VI in 1970, can be found here, if anyone is interested in reading it. Maybe Todd Flowerday has gone through it on his blog…)

  6. I hope he will be consistent and withdraw from speaking in Ireland also.

    It appears as if he’s deferring to the local hierarchy. It’s sounds more like Realpolitik.

  7. “Y’know, Dismas, I would imagine that many of his eminence’s vestments and such are gifts, and didn’t cost him or the church a thing.”

    Perhaps the cardinal should create a blog and constantly mooch off his followers like a Zertain priest.

  8. This strikes me as a very sensible and collegial decision on the part of Cardinal Burke. It’s probably not what many of us would have expected from him, but I certainly welcome it.

      1. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he doesn’t read this blog, Fritz, and, even if he does (Hi, Emineinza!) I doubt the Chief Poobah of the Apostolic Signatura would make decisions based on “getting even!”

      2. When was the last collegial decision he made, if he ever made one?

        It more likely that some of the English bishop ‘made representation’ to Rome.

        Maybe the debacle between Patrick Kelly and two Roman offices has given them renewed spirit. You’d like to think so.

      3. You’re so right, Chris!

        As we’ve seen with 1) the new ICEL (remember John Page?) 2) Vox Clara (remember the new ICEL?) and 3) the CDW (remember Canon Griffiths and Fr Ruff?) – there’s nothing as unworthy as “getting even” in the modus operandi of the Roman Catholic Church!

  9. I write as president of the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins, and one who worked closely with Cardinal Burke at the time he served as Episcopal Moderator of the USACV. I want to simply comment that I know of no instances in which Cardinal Burke consecrated a virgin who was not in his diocese. The Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for a Woman Living in the World calls for the consecration to be at the hands of the Diocesan Bishop, not of another Bishop. It wouldn’t make sense for another Bishop to consecrate, because the virgin has a spiritual bond with the Bishop of her Diocese, a bond which Archbishop Burke always respected. In their roles as the Episcopal Moderator of the USACV, Cardinal Burke, and now Bishop Boyea, travel short distances to attend two annual conferences sponsored by the USACV, but they have not travelled to consecrations outside of their dioceses.

    The vocation of consecrated virginity lived in the world is a most ancient and beautiful vocation in the Catholic Church, and it is a joy to see it restored in the 21st Century. Please do visit our website, http://www.consecratedvirgins.org, for more information.

    1. Does that exist for men too? Is there a Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for a Man Living in the World?

      1. Does this info answer the question? It’s from the cv website, “Discernment” tab:

        “It is understood that only women may receive this consecration, as they can image the bride of Christ. And, it is understood by the above norms that widows and women whose marriages may have been annulled would not fit into the stated criteria. In a response to an inquiry from Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has also clarified that “women who have lost the gift of virginity by knowingly and deliberately engaging in sexual relations should not be received as consecrated virgins.” [Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, Prot.n.231/06/L, Rome, 4 April 2007]”

        I took a look at the Scottish deacons’ web site today also; all pronouns used to describe the diaconate are masculine, but no justification of reserving the state to males is visible.

      2. Claire – as you can see by Mary Coogan’s post, the structure and theological justification is not exactly helpful given the 21st century. Tradition is not just the past, etc. – see Mike Burn’s latest post from Rev. Robert Taft’s article on is Vatican II a “rupture”.

    2. Thank you for the clarification, Judith.

      Bill, can you corroborate your initial remark that Burke was actually going outside his diocese to celebrate consecrations?

      1. It is no longer on the STL website but when Burke was archbishop, his schedule frequently had him out of the diocese at these ceremonies. Yes, there is a disconnect there but who knows? wrong scheduler? This poster may or may not know when Burke did a ceremony? Who knows. Anyone want to respond to Claire’s posting – it connects to some of the thoughts I have and why Paul VI reinstituted this?

  10. Fritz, if Cdl Burke’s actions seemed collegial or sensible, I would join you in deprecating criticism of him. Mark, I understand how criticism of a respected prelate can seem hateful.

    But his actions seem neither collegial nor sensible to me. I don’t understand how he lacked the wit to discern the poisonous divisiveness of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. As far as I can see from their website and newsletters, their main activity seems to be to criticise the bishops and to fan the flames of the liturgy war. Utterly hypocritical of Daphne McLeod to clam ‘we are careful never to attack any individuals’. It is the same idiocy found in the hermeneutic of continuity meme: continuity and solidarity with the Church, but only as long as every bishop agrees with what I say.

    This is not a matter of a ‘liberal’ attacking a ‘conservative’ group. I agree with some of Pro Ecclesia’s views, though not all of them. But I detest the divisive way in which they work. We don’t need another Michael Voris; one is bad enough.

    Even supposing that I am wrong about Pro Ecclesia, Cdl Burke’s letter seems more than a bit slimy. ‘Given my position as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal’ – that is the only reason for showing respect to his episcopal brothers? – he claims that it is not right for him to give a presentation that ‘would reflect the lack of respect for the Office of Bishop’. The Office of bishop? What about the bishops themselves? Why can he not assert his support for Abp Nichols, for instance?

    And, ‘the promotion of my presentation, as, in some way, a direct criticism of the Bishops of England and Wales’ … so an oblique criticism in a divisive setting would be fine?

    Cdl Burke got himself involved with a bad lot, but then didn’t have the courage to distance himself from them. He has irritated traddies and progressives alike, and cost Pro Ecclesia a lot of money.

    So … I think he and his goofy clerical duds – maybe an outfit like this could be called a Burkeqa – are fair targets.

  11. Cardinals are princes of the Church. They sometimes do things out of political necessity. BTW the vestments that many here disparage have spiritual value. Why does his apparel bother you all so much? Gotta wonder.

  12. Is it possible that he really has not paid for the vestments? I mean, he is at the Vatican and I am sure that there are closets (and possibly basements and attics) filled with much of this clothing from eras past… it’s too bad that the Cardinal appears to have some attachment to the past, to a Church which exists in some memory… rather than to a vibrant active Church existing in a different world today. Those clothes might have had meaning in an earlier era, but if they cause this much discussion in today’s world, then his wearing of them causes us to miss any Truth that he might be attempting to convey.

  13. Do the People of God really need princes? The so-called “spiritual value” attached to this archaic attire is nothing more than allegorical lore. We are no longer a Church of illiterate peasants likely to be awed by such silken splendor and the false display of humility signified by the ritual removal of the cappa magna.
    I agree with Mr. Halloran that Card. Burke’s attire doesn’t carry meaning for the Church today, but rather speaks to Burke’s own longing for the authoritarian monolithic Church of his medieval mythology. He rather reminds me of the guys who spend their weekends dressing up and reenacting the civil war.

  14. There are pictures of Burke at one of those celebrations in Cork last year, in Ss Peter & Paul’s. He’s supposed to be coming again this month, but I hope he’ll withdraw like he did in the UK.

    I don’t know if Joe O’Leary was the MC, but part of the ceremonial appeared to be Burke falling asleep and also being dressed and undressed by acolytes, with background music. Feigning indifference but probably loving the attention. The cappa was so long that he could only move in one dimension of the sanctuary. And those ghastly gloves with a ring over them and purple socks. What a show! Very far from Nazareth.

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