Cardinal Burke on Pope Francis and Church Reform UPDATED 12-16

UPDATE 12-16: The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has terminated Cardinal Raymond Burke’s membership on the powerful Congregation for Bishops, a body that makes recommendations to the pope for appointment of bishops around the world. The pope has officially nominated Cardinal Marc Ouellet as prefect of the Congregation. The pope also terminated from the Congregation Cardinals Mauro Piacenzo and Angelo Bagnasco, conservative allies of Benedict XVI. Observers note that Archbishop Müller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not named to the Congregation for Bishops. Newly named to the Congregation for Bishops are Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Cardinals Donald Wuerl of Washington.

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In a recent interview on EWTN (video at the end of this post), Cardinal Raymond Burke said some surprising things about Pope Francis, his recent exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), impending reform of the Roman Curia, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, and the document Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict that allows any priest to celebrate Mass according to the unreformed books in use before the Second Vatican Council. (Pray Tell transcript here.) Cardinal Burke is prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, the Catholic Church’s “supreme court,” having previously served as archbishop of St. Louis, MO, and bishop of La Crosse, WI.

Focusing Too Much on Some Moral Issues?

Cardinal Burke was asked about the words of Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortion Evangelii Gaudium, and elsewhere, that the church should focus on the essentials and not talk too much about issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The cardinal said,

Well the pope’s statement doesn’t state that. In fact it’s a text that’s not altogether easy to interpret. But my response is, what could be more essential than the natural moral law? … And so, to me the pope can’t be saying, I can’t interpret that phrase of his, as saying that these are not essentials. I’m not exactly sure why he mentioned it. One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman. But we can never talk enough about that!

Pope Francis is clearly opposed to abortion. In Evangelii Gaudium, he says at no. 214, “It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?”

But Cardinal Burke takes a different tone in his comments. He says,

In our society innocent and defenseless human life is being attacked in a most savage way, I mean, it’s literally a massacre of the unborn… We can never talk enough about that, because if we don’t get this straight, that human life, innocent and defenseless human life is an inviolable dignity, how are we going to understand anything else correctly with regard to care of the sick or whatever it might be?

Whether Evangelii Gaudium Is Papal Teaching

Cardinal Burke downplayed the importance of Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, emphasizing that it shouldn’t be considered papal teaching.

It seems to me that the Holy Father made a very clear statement at the beginning that these are a number of reflections that he’s making, that he doesn’t intend them to be part of the papal magisterium. … They’re suggestions, he calls them guidelines… I don’t think it was intended to be part of papal magisterium. At least that’s my impression of it.

Reform of the Roman Curia

The chair of the committee of cardinals charged with reforming the Vatican curia, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, has said the current system is over and it is time for something different. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter he said, “It is not just taking the constitution Pastor Bonus and trying to change this and that. No, that constitution is over. Now it is something different. We need to write something different.” Pastor Bonus is the 1988 constitution of John Paul II on the Roman curia.

But Cardinal Burke, who is not on the committee of cardinals, has a different view of possible reforms. He said,

I cannot imagine a reform of the Roman Curia which would not somehow be continuous with Pastor Bonus, the apostolic constitution which has governed the Roman Curia since I think 1988, when Blessed John Paul II reformed the Roman Curia, because the church is an organic body… So I can’t imagine that somehow the Roman Curia is going to take on a completely different figure. It just doesn’t make sense.

The cardinal also made a surprising claim about the Roman Curia:

The service of the Roman Curia is part of the very nature of the Church, and so that has to be respected.

Since the Roman Curia did not exist in the earliest centuries of the church, theologians generally do not consider it to be essential to the church’s nature.

Papal Style

EWTN cited the comments of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is both secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and prefect of the papal household under Pope Francis. Gänswein said (and this is Pray Tell’s translation, BTW), “It is an ache, finding my way with the new role. I have this impression I live in two world. I wait every day for another innovation, what will be different.”

Cardinal Burke said,

There is a kind of unpredictability about life in the Rome in these days. It seems to be a question of a certain style, and every Holy Father is different. So it is quite distinct from Pope Benedict who was, who attended very much to a certain protocol, and also to a certain discipline of schedule and so forth, so there is an element of that, that’s clear.

Summorum Pontificum

Cardinal Burke does not see it as possible that Pope Francis would alter the 2007 universal permission to use the unreformed pre-Vatican II rite of Mass, because that decision of Pope Benedict XVI is “universal legislation.”

I don’t see it as a possibility on a couple of scores. Number 1, it’s universal legislation, and to reverse it would be a very serious act on the part of the Holy Father, and one would have to have the most serious of reasons. But going along with that, Pope Francis has not shown any inclination to change anything with regard to the celebration of the Extraordinary Form. He has made even in the, in the exhortation, he makes a comment about people who are too concerned about the sacred liturgy and so forth, but I don’t think that that can be interpreted as being a negative statement with regard to Summorum Pontificum. … I myself, since Pope Francis has taken office, have celebrated publicly solemn Masses in the Extraordinary Form and I haven’t received any admonition not to do that.

EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo interviews Cardinal Raymond Burke beginning at 9:55:


  1. Francis has a great response to the charge of being a Marxist in his new LaStampa interview”

    First the sound bite response to his critics, pointing out the obvious:

    Some of the passages in the “Evangelii Gaudium” attracted the criticism of ultraconservatives in the USA. As a Pope, what does it feel like to be called a “Marxist”?

    “The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

    Then he “sketches” the larger response, just in case there are people out there with legitimate questions:

    The most striking part of the Exhortation was where it refers to an economy that “kills”…

    “There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

    Francis adds a new image which was not in his exhortation, the image of the expanding glass which replaces a share of the expanding pie. Instead of the poor getting a share they get nothing.

    What Francis is calling attention to is not simply income inequality but the tendency for large numbers of people (the young, the old, the poor, the immigrants) to be excluded from the portions of the economy that are expanding.

  2. Where does one start:
    – let’s see: Summorum Pontificum was a motu proprio…decree on the pope’s initiative (yet, Burke states that this is a *universal* teaching that would be hard to change? Huh, papal MPs change and not infrequently…..and the universal ordinary magisterium is not de fide nor infallible)
    – let’s see….he has not been confirmed in his position by Francis yet, correct? (with friends like this, who needs enemies)
    – Burke all but denigrates Francis’ apostolic exhortation (which is only one step below a motu proprio – sounds like he is just trying to confuse things by throwing out lots of dust)
    – in the recording, Arroyo introduces Burke as *one of the most influential* – and he knows this how? not sure this is true anymore?
    – Arroyo also includes the statement that Burke is the *best canon lawyer in the world*….really, and, again, he knows this how? know a few folks in the Canon Law Society of America who wouldn’t agree with that description
    – and this interview happened because Burke was in Alabama inaugurating a new eucharistic chapel at a shrine (can remember Francis saying something about bishops/cardinals who spend most of their time in airport lounges)
    – and, of course, Arroyo highlights Burke’s first book (sounds like an indirect attempt to underline Burke’s call to withhold the eucharist from US politicians who violate church laws according to Burke)
    – and as already pointed out – his statement about the curia flies in the face of history (Burkian revisionist history, anyone!)
    – Burke’s failures around sexual abuse in the US dioceses in which he served are documented – he left behind a trail of cover-ups, etc.
    – Burke has never been elected to any significant USCCB post by his peers
    – his reference to Pastor Bonus is *rich*…again, you just can’t act or change things without somehow considering or even more building on what has gone before…thus, contradicting what the 8 cardinals have said. Using his reasoning, it would be hard to imagine how VII happened.

    Can anyone say – *cafeteria catholic*

    Will repeat from an earlier post the words of Francis:

    “I don’t like the word narcissism, it indicates an excessive love for oneself and this is not good, it can produce serious damage not only to the soul of those affected but also in relationship with others, with the society in which one lives. The real trouble is that those most affected by this — which is actually a kind of mental disorder — are people who have a lot of power.
    Often bosses are narcissists”. Many church leaders have been. “You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.” The leprosy of the papacy, those were his exact words. But what is the court? Perhaps he is alluding to the curia? “No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster’s office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it. – See more at:

  3. I caught a small portion of Raymond Arroyo’s interview of Cardinal Burke and decided not to finish watching the rest of it. Why? The comments by Burke and Arroyo regarding “Evangelii Gaudium” strongly resembled those by Fr. Trugilio and Fr. Mitch Pachwa last Wednesday on the same subject. Namely, consistently measured and painstakingly deliberate parsing of Pope Francis’ remarks in his exhortation and various interviews, that reflect (IMO) the overall traditionalist and restorationist worldview of EWTN. My overall impression from both shows was that we shouldn’t get too excited about Pope Francis’ pronouncements and actions as indicating any hint of departure from Catholic teaching (very likely true – for the time being) nor any real shift in emphasis (in contrast to his predecessors). Merely EWTN “spin” – which is their prerogative – as is the bias of the National Catholic Reporter, for example. I’ve always experienced Mr. Arroyo’s reporting over the years as automatically loyal to the pronouncements and policies of the previous two papacies.

  4. I think the interview shows that just as there is concern on the left and right of rank and file clergy and laity concerning what Pope Francis is doing and his imprecise language which constantly is being spinned by the left and right only to have the Pope himself set the record straight later as a kind of damage control, we are seeing that this angst and spinning is even in the curia and broader circle of cardinals. Even Cardinal Kasper who tends to lean toward the left thinks that Pope Francis will distribute Holy Communion to illicitly remarried Catholics without any canonical procedure in place to rectify their ambiguous situation and yet Pope Francis walks that back in his latest interview:

    “The exclusion of divorced people who contract a second marriage from communion is not a sanction. It is important to remember this. But I didn’t talk about this in the Exhortation.”

    Pope Francis read or heard the criticisms of some right leaning political pundants, religious and secular in the USA, accusing him of Marxist leanings and he clarifies that rather well. This is a brilliant spin by the Holy Father himself on his emphatic statement “the Marxist ideology is wrong”:

    “There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

    And certainly the silly leanings of the left concerning this pope’s intention of changing the nature of Holy Orders or naming women monsignors or cardinals, both honorary clerical titles, was brilliantly set straight by the man himself:

    “I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued not “clericalised”. Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”

    The latter statement is almost humorous in its stinging appraisal of the left’s obsession with Holy Orders, usually motivated by radical feminists whether they be men or women who suffer from “clericalism” in their desire for its power which the Holy Father castigates when anyone seeks Holy Orders for power rather than service. Usually the left speaks in categories of “empowerment” rather than service.

    One thing is clear, one cannot go back one month or several months and read what Pope Francis has said or written without fast forwarding to the comments he makes clarifying his previous comments. Going backwards in time to justify one’s position on what one thinks the pope has said or meant is an exercise in futility and a sort of “cafeteria ultramontane-ism” which the newly “ultramontane” here suffer.

  5. The framework for interpreting what Francis is saying and doing is given in the exhortation:

    Time is greater than space [222-225]
    Unity prevails over conflict [226-230]
    Realities are more important than ideas [231-233]
    The whole is greater than the part [234-237]

    Francis is process oriented rather than idea oriented. My prediction is that we will end up with a practical “Eastern Orthodox” reform of Roman Catholicism:

    1. Synods will become central to church governance.
    2. Practices with regard to divorce and remarriage which are compatible with Orthodoxy.
    3. Practices with regard to priestly celibacy that are compatible with Orthodoxy.
    4. Women deacons or their equivalents also compatible with Orthodoxy.

    This reform will largely be decided by the bishops themselves through synods at various levels and not by Francis. Francis is being deliberately vague about his wording and intentions because he intends to let the process decide the outcome, just as if it were an ecumenical council. So in fact the results are not predetermined. The attempts by the right and the left to find out what the “papal” answer is are off the mark because it will be a “synod” answer that might not be clear for some time. Of course Francis like myself has only to look at the Eastern Orthodox to see where we could learn much.

    Of course the four practical reforms above have to be put in context of a Roman Catholicism that is refocused upon the essentials of the Gospel: love of God and neighbor; the joy and mercy of the paschal mystery, evangelization as the work of the Holy Spirit.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #7:
      I think you’re correct. I will also add a (5) and a (6)

      “I spoke about baptism and communion as spiritual food that helps one to go on; it is to be considered a remedy not a prize.”

      5) It is the repentant sinner who needs Jesus, not the ‘righteous’.

      Jesus made it clear that it is the sick that need the doctor. Over and over Pope Francis has called himself a sinner. This is very telling. The Jesus Prayer is central to Eastern Orthodoxy and connects the Church. We must understand we are sinners until the final day is all over.

      6) An understanding that all the baptized Christians are Catholic.

  6. The cardinal also made a surprising claim about the Roman Curia:

    “The service of the Roman Curia is part of the very nature of the Church, and so that has to be respected.”

    I am not at all surprised by this claim by Cardinal Burke. It’s the way in which he has thought and consistently acted for years. If you don’t like a particular decision, work through your connections to get it reversed, suspended, or mitigated in some fashion. If you don’t like a particular pronouncement, work through your connections to get a “proper” interpretation or have it placed in its “proper” context.

  7. In terms of Eastern Orthodoxy and Pope Francis so-called embrace of this model the logical conclusion of this spin is to also embrace their ossified clerical structures, nationalistic congregationalism, ossified extravagant. Liturgies with cappa-like vestments and tiara-like crowns for bishops which makes an ossified pre-Vatican II approach to these things look like puritanical iconoclasm! Synodality in Orthodoxy means upholding orthodoxy and its purity in an ossified way and the means to keep Orthodoxy orthodox and living in the time prior to the time of the Great Schism and the subsequent organic developments of papist Rome with her Magisterial developments articulated in subsequent ecumenical councils and papal teachings.

    1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #10:
      I’m sorry to be blunt, but Fr McDonald, you appear to be ignorant factually and in experience with Eastern LIturgies.

      You would do well to read Alexander Schmemann, the Paris born American Orthodox liturgical theologian. He was plenty critical of the practive, but his sense of what the Eastern tradition cherishes and in fact did preserve, contra the west, would go long way to helping you evaluate the Tridentine stuff.

      “Subsequent organic developments?” A denominational Roman Catholic view.
      Hah! turning away from the Fathers, some say!

      Mark MIller

    2. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #10:
      So you think it is all-or-nothing? Just adopt Eastern Orthodoxy completely or not at all? I don’t follow the logic of that.

      On the other hand, you should give Jack a little more credit: he has read the Exhortation, he has cited specific parts and has proposed a theory. I suppose that until we can come to a point where we can look back and see what happened, it is all spin, including every word you write. I am more persuaded by a reasoned argument, however. In the end, what we say here won’t matter much – this is not a synod, after all – but it is a place to get a little food for thought, and Jack definitely offers that.

      1. @Charles Day – comment #12:
        We are all spinning including me. Pope Francis is an enigma and the irony in my previous comment has to do precisely with Orthodoxy’s stability, liturgical ethos that does not denigrate its ancient spiritual and liturgical tradition unlike post Vatican II progressives who mock and denigrate our spiritual and liturgical traditions. Synodality would increase the authoritativeness of the Bishop of Rome as long as orthodoxy is maintained in the way the Orthodox do it but without nationalistic congregationalism and rigid ethnicity and lack of evangelical fervor.

      2. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #15:
        “Pope Francis is an enigma” but only to those who do not hear his message.
        if one really listens to him and hears his essentials, he is very consistent and presents a real call/challenge for conversions. One one level the Gospel is an enigma, but to those who hear, it is a call to life.

      3. @Patrick Logsdon – comment #18:
        I think this is quite accurate, Patrick. Many believers, quite often the culturewarriors themselves, decline the opportunity for continuing conversion. A sad and missed opportunity, as this has been the call from saints, as well as recent popes.

        If any believer thinks she or he is a finished product, this might reveal a whiff of semipelagianism.

    3. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #10:
      New word alert – *ossified*; guess he hasn’t looked in the mirror lately!

      Just love it – *puritanical iconoclasm* (guess he hasn’t been reading the Yves Congar posts when Congar quotes the eloquent and moving contributions of Maximos (who never spoke in latin to make his point – guess that was puritanical and ossified? or Congar’s thanks for VII liturgies in the eastern rite so that the bishops could see, experience, and learn.)

  8. Francis, the pope of hope!
    He’s throwing open the windows.
    Rev3:22 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

  9. This is what Burke had to say BEFORE he lost his seat at the Congregation for Bishops earlier today! Imagine what he’d say now… or when he becomes just another canon lawyer. He can’t be so blind or obtuse as to not realize he has fallen from grace in the palace… I mean the domus.

    1. @Dismas Bede – comment #22:
      I’m sure the man knew well before that interview was released.

      Kelly, nice warm wool! Yeah.

      Fr Allan, Cardinal Wuerl is no liberal. But he offers deliverance from incompetence. And he’s the best we could expect. There are very few good American bishops at this point in time. Probably under 20%.

      My problem with conservatives is not that they’re conservative, but simply that so many of them have proven themselves unfit for duty. Cardinal Rigali was a disaster everywhere he served, and he spread disaster far and wide to other dioceses. Cardinal Burke is all that plus a prelate 450 years out of his time.

      I would still trade every last American bishop for a new one, even if it meant getting rid of the good ones. Sadly, I will be able to say that for the better part of the next decade.

      Considering the rejoicing going on for the appointment of a conservative to the CB, just imagine what it will be like in ten years after the US rebuilds its shattered episcopacy.

      Make no mistake: orthodoxy has been turned from a virtue into a code word for culturewarrior. When someone self-describes as orthodox first, be wary. Be very wary. As used today, it is no longer a virtue.

      It’s a great day to be a Catholic. Bring on the good bishops.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #28:
        Todd incompetent bishops come in all shapes, sizes and ideologies. The sex abuse scandal was fomented by tolerant, compassionate, progressive bishops appointed by Pope Paul VI. Pope Francis’ bouncer background has shown itself with his laicization and excommunication of the heterodox Australian priest. More of this is needed even by so-called progressive leaning appointee bishops.

        And yes certainly Card. Burke knew long before the video interview what his fate is under the new pope and I suspect he knows what is afoot for the Congregation of Divine Worship.

      2. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #29:
        Really – “… abuse scandal was fomented by tolerant, compassionate, progressive bishops appointed by Pope Paul VI.”

        Outrageous and completely disproved allegation – documentation? Have you ever read the John Jay Studies?

        Some facts:
        – the highest rate of abusers by year and substantiated acts are in the 1960s and early 1970s (both before and after VII)
        – majority of these men were ordained and served initial appointments under bishops long before Paul VI ever became pope
        – most egregious US bishops to date – Bevilacqua (yes, quite the liberal);
        Egan; McIntyre/Mahoney; Grahmann; Rigali; to name a few
        – and what are you measuring – abusers ordination date; assignment dates and under which bishops
        – and from a world perspective – your *claim* is laughable….greatest fault would be JPII (facts became public and he not only did nothing; he buried his head)
        – and since 2002 – greatest embarrassments – Finn, Rigali, George, Burke, Braxton, Paprocki, Brown, Dolan; to name a few (yes, you can add the liberals Weakland and Mahoney)

      3. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #29:
        No, Fr Allan, I think you’ve seriously misdiagnosed the situation. I would expect it from a cleric, so I can give you a spot or two of understanding on that point.

        You are still focused on the “sex abuse scandal”–these are your own words. Discerning Catholics know the problem is with bishops. We have a cover-up scandal. Those familiar with sin know that evil tends to hide, to cover its tracks, and misdirect those who search for it. It’s not just about bad actions, but about a whole system of wrongdoing. As a confessor you should certainly be aware of such things.

        We can’t be sure how many pre-JP2 bishops were enablers. Probably most. But we do know that most JP2 bishops, and that means most all conservatives, mishandled sexual predation in their priests. It ranged from careerists like Law and Mahony (who was about as liberal as Law) to culturewarriors like Finn.

        I can lament a pre-1985 bishop for his ignorance. But the JP2 bishops who listened to Tom Doyle and ignored him, and who failed to see the many warning signs–these people, universally conservative, revealed themselves to be lacking in moral character and discernment.

        Today we have no real progressive bishops in the US in active ministry, save perhaps for Albany. And clearly, as recent developments in St Paul-Minneapolis show, we still have no sense of sin, no moral outrage, and no sincere contrition from any conservative bishop.

        What can I conclude? Probably the same thing most lay Catholics and many priests know: that people who are self-styled good faithful and orthodox Catholics are probably no more good, no more faithful, and no more orthodox than anyone they criticize.

        The answer isn’t to turn to ideology. That failed project of 1990-2013 needs to be outed, vilified, and put to rest.

        And you, Father, by aligning yourself with such conservative ideology, and refusing to see the damage wrought by your confreres (and I don’t mean the sexual offenders) taint yourself by association with princes instead of aligning with Christ.

        As with bishops, my problem with you isn’t that you’re conservative. In the matter of scandal and cover-up, you’re just incompetent. Hopefully that’s not been a problem in your parishes. But if I were a parishioner of yours, I wouldn’t know. And barring a demonstration otherwise, you would always be under moral doubt as far as I was concerned.

      4. @Todd Flowerday – comment #34:
        You are misrepresenting my words, part of the pastoral approach, misguided as it was, of bishops was to assure that the priesthood was preserved and healing came about. The blindness was to the pain and suffering inflicted on the laity and their children but more out of ignorance of this truth. Sparing the faithful from scandal is part of the “cover-up” and thus has to be taken into account as well as the social mentality of the day, which is very much different today. So reading back into our church and culture what are our sensibilities today is quite wrong.
        The pastoral approach was to heal. I was vocation director and heard not a few priest-psychologists say that the Church, meaning laity and clergy, needed to treat priests who have sexual addictions, including those that are now considered criminal as addicts and that recovery programs can get them back into ministry and we should treat them as we treat recovery priest alcoholics in recovery programs such as AA. This was well into the 80’s and 90’s! Of course one doesn’t hear this today at all.
        But the other things Todd is that you completely leave out of the discussion religious superiors, both male and female, most of whom were elected within their orders who did the very same thing as the bishops you condemn. These orders both liberal and conservative, even the sponsor of this blog, made egregious poor judgement decisions way back when and are still paying for in it litigation. So let’s not skim over the elected religious superiors of religious orders please including the Jesuits.

      5. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #35:
        The preservation of any earthly institution, including the priesthood, is not accomplished by the secrecy of sin. Anyone experienced with the ministry of reconciliation knows this.

        The so-called pastoral approach was often a cover-up, an excuse. Bishops and clergy pastor people. The brother-to-brother ministry of clergy, or the father-son relationship is something different, as given in church documents. The so-called pastoral approach ignored and marginalized victims.

        If a person is actively addicted to sex or power they are unsuited for ministry. The Church has other needs–not all of them ministry to people.

        In addition to religious superiors, I also left out parents. But not because I am one of them.

        Bishops and their priests serve the wider Church, not a specific apostolate, and so their crimes and errors impact in a much larger way than Jesuits, Benedictines, and others. So I’m not leaving people out of the discussion, which began with an incompetent cardinal. And I’m not willing to take you off the hook either.

      6. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #35:
        Except you are changing the subject again – here is your statement:

        “The sex abuse scandal was fomented by tolerant, compassionate, progressive bishops appointed by Pope Paul VI.”

        So, some random thoughts:
        – your statement makes no mention of religious superiors – a few of us responded to your original post
        – your wildly inaccurate comment tries to blame and categorize all Paul VI appointed bishops as if they all came out of the wild and sexually driven 1960s (again, so inaccurate it is laughable)
        – if you read any of the studies of the ongoing abuse scandal, bishops ignored the correct advice of Tom Doyle, Robert Mouton (they rejected their well thought out plan and process).
        Since you are citing your personal experience, I attended a Doyle/Mouton one day seminar for all the preists in the diocese of Dallas in June, 1986… the conclusion, the diocesan leadership and monsignors stated that this diocese had no need for this *exaggerated process*. that Dallas had no problems. Facts – less than 10 years later, one priest who was sitting only 5 chairs away is now serving life in state prison; the diocese initially was found for $120 mllion in damages; later appealed and negotiated to $27 million largerly paid for by insurance companies. I had already had to deal with an abuser and his seminarian victims in a college seminary and can remember provincials who paid a settlement requiring secrecy; did nothing to the abuser priest who continued to teach in a minor seminary. So, was not surprised at the denial and negative reaction.

        At least 3 monsignors were later found with credible abuse claims and removed.
        The Dallas bishop (like most) did not listen to psychologists’ they listened to lawyers and insurance companies. Yes, even the mainstream psychological experts thought that abusers could be cured….the field knows better now.

        As Todd says well, it is not your imaginary scenario that is the issue, it is the ongoing cover-up even years after Boston, worldwide scandals, and the Dallas chapter (which, of course, ignores the key issue – episcopal accountability) and the institutional clericalism that rarely thinks, acts, or protects children.

        Allan – some light reading:

        Allan – since you are wont to say this, *Allan, you can do better*

      7. @Todd Flowerday – comment #28:

        “I’m sure the man knew well before that interview was released.”

        Which makes this tidbit (from yesterday’s NY Times) even more interesting:

        In an interview in Washington last week, Cardinal Wuerl suggested that the pope was altering the way the bishops’ congregation functioned. For example, Francis is already surveying a broader range of bishops than those in the congregation, the cardinal said.

        “When it comes to future bishops, he is asking a number of sources,” he said.

        Asked whether all of the pope’s changes mattered if Cardinal Burke still had such influence in appointing bishops, Cardinal Wuerl smiled.

        “Don’t we have to give this pope time?” he said.

        Indeed. Time, as the Pope said, really is God’s messenger.

        Michael Alexenko (@ comment #30): It’s now become clear to me that we live in two completely different worlds, which alas, makes engaging in meaningful conversations impossible.

        Thanks for your concern anyway, and Merry Christmas!

      8. @Todd Flowerday – comment #28: “There are very few good American bishops at this point in time. Probably under 20%.”

        I tend to loathe comment boxes (and inevitably loathe myself for commenting every now and then), and this thread and its aspersions and polemics offer a prime example for why I feel this way. (Incidentally, I’m not alone – I’d wager that easily 95% of blog readers wisely don’t bother with engaging the unpalatable comments they encounter.)

        But I must interject myself here simply to say that this comment I’ve tagged above just smacks of an armchair-bishop hubris that does absolutely nothing to champion the argument.

        That is all.

      9. @Brian MacMichael – comment #36:
        Comments in boxes aren’t intended to champion real arguments. They are usually reactions. Nothing more, nothing less.

        I think most American bishops today are good and holy men. Some of them have become better or good on the job, in spite of never having been pastors in parishes or monasteries. Some of them were appointed as culturewarriors and were woefully unprepared for their assignment.

        To highlight my former bishop, Robert Finn, and to mention the impact of his naivete on my family, especially my daughter, I know the man personally. He is kind, personable, and friendly. When he took over his diocese he was naive, ill-informed, inexperienced, and stubborn. He is a good, and I believe, a holy man. He is also a sinner and a poor bishop, ill-suited for the service he was called to give to the Church. Because of him, grave harm has been done to the faith of thousands of Catholics in northwestern Missouri.

        Stating that sharply does not create a truth, nor does it make me happy. I think people who read this blog know I and others state opinions and assessments, and we read, absorb, or ignore as we see fit. No more, no less.

      10. @Todd Flowerday – comment #28:
        “There are very few good American bishops at this point in time. Probably under 20%.”

        Todd my friend, you’re being way too generous with that number. We still have a convicted bishop (Finn) who hasn’t been deposed nor verbally reprimanded by his fellow bishops… I think that speaks volumes about this bunch of dunderhead bishops. Also, Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philadelphia was exhumed last year to determine if he was poisoned. What a bunch we have!

      11. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #39:
        I need to correct something in my post. Card Bevilacqua was examined, not exhumed by the coroner. I believe he died the day after receiving a subpoena in the sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia which of course sent up lots or red flags.
        Because of this a forensic examination was done and tissue samples collected after he had already been embalmed and prepared for burial. No signs of foul play was determined. Still some have asked that he be exhumed for an autopsy.

  10. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #14:
    Kelly – it must be tough for him….he made a couple of comments and then was caught flat-footed and unaware that Burke and his influence is over.

    FYI – Allan just completed a four month continuing education (?) session at the North American Seminary in Rome….unfortunately, there is no evidence he learned anything beyond sightseeing and taking pictures of himself at mass in St. Peter’s. There were any number of presentations and updating going on during the session but his blog posts only reveal his finding fault or picking out why the presentor was wrong; he lamented that the liturgies used music from OCP (how 1960s, banal – his favorite word altho his repeated meme is what is *banal*). By his own description, this seems to have been his approach during his seminary years. He did say on his blog that he did not want his other NA colleagues to know about his blog – that his views would not be well received or understood.

    You say:
    “….you need a more accurate and perhaps up to date version of the Church’s historical facts as we have them today.” His comments, sadly, only underline this statement over and over as he tries to defend himself with the defensive – everyone is spinning!.

  11. Not only did Burke not get confirmed, neither did Rigali who had more influence than Burke.

    Looks like Francis wants to set a new direction for the USA bishops. Of course all this is just spin, or the wuelpool for Rocco:

    With today’s nod, the District cardinal becomes the first shepherd of the nation’s capital to have a seat at the Curia’s most significant table of all; until now, only prior archbishops of New York, Boston and Philadelphia have known the role.

    Obviously the new American was not going to be O’Malley who has his hands full on the Council of Cardinals, but notice it also was not the archbishop of New York!

  12. I find it fascinating that so many think Cardinal Wuerl is some kind of ultra progressive replacing an ultra conservative. This is humorous and Cardinal Ouellette is a liberal is riotous! Maybe everyone needs a goodnight sleep in order to get a grip. Orthodoxy is simply getting a compassionate looking and sounding facelift that had become ossified.

  13. John Allen analyzes the international dimension to the Burke replacements:

    There’s equally no doubt, however, that as of Monday, Francis shifted the center of the gravity inside the body responsible for selecting bishops towards the middle — not just with the American members, as it turns out, but across the board.

    Rocco notes that with only 2 people on the Congregation of Bishops, the USA is at a low since it has had as many as 5 in recent decades. We must remember that Francis is also engaged in internationalizing the Curia reducing the influence of Italians, Europeans, and North Americans while increasing the influence of Latin America, and Asian.

    How fast and how far the changes will go may well be indicated by who and how many new cardinals he appoints in February.

    While Francis has a mandate for changing the Curia including from people like Dolan and Pell, their conception of what was needed was likely far less than Francis has in mind. Dolan complained of the slowness of change over the summer largely because the big change he was looking for, a new Secretary of State, had not happened. Francis obviously thought the problem was more than Bertone, and so easied him out rather gradually. He has even kept him on at the Congregation of Bishops allowing him to leave gracefully in 2014 when his term expires.

  14. I have never been an admirer of Cardinal Burke and his ecclesiastical pomps and pretensions. But I have some sympathy for how this all must feel to him.

    The grand narrative seemed so clear: the will of the Council thwarted by the evil Bug-nini and his liberal liturgist followers; a rediscovery of tradition championed by Joseph Ratzinger, who then becomes Pope Benedict XVI. Bug-nini is sent off to Iran. The Church, having strayed from the true path, returns triumphantly to it. Cardinal Burke comes to power, along with a group of young, dynamic, hermeneutic-of-continuity bishops. Restorationist bloggers are invited to academic conferences and treated like rock stars. The SSPX were about to be reconciled – what a jolt of orthodox energy they would bring into the Church!

    And the best part of the grand narrative: the young are all on the side of restorationism. The only opponents are clapped-out theologians and aging hippie nuns. But they protest in vain; they are about to be swept into the dustbin of history by an inevitable tide. Fr Z treated them with ill-concealed contempt. (Scroll down to see the pictures). “Tremble, all Modernists –” wrote Gerald Warner, “the spirit of Trent is abroad once more. Welcome to the Counter-Reformation.” Bring on the cappa magnas and jewelled mitres. Pop open the Veuve Cliquot. A new generation has arrived, and with it, the end of history.

    And then everything changed, when an almost unknown, newly-elected pope emerged on the balcony and asked the assembled crowd to pray for him as he bowed his head. A lot of formerly triumphant bloggers and a few bishops and cardinals must feel very uncomfortable indeed.

    With that said, the biggest mistake we could now make about Pope Francis would be to assert, as the restorationists did, that what he has done is part of another inevitable tide. Yes, everything has changed. Forever? I doubt it. History has a way of confounding those who proclaim that it has ended.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #41:

      Jonathan: And then everything changed, when an almost unknown, newly-elected pope emerged on the balcony and asked the assembled crowd to pray for him as he bowed his head. A lot of formerly triumphant bloggers and a few bishops and cardinals must feel very uncomfortable indeed.

      Traditionalists often enjoy self-imposed oppression. Under Paul VI and John Paul II, some traditionalists relished the restrictions on Tridentine liturgy. The tenuous state of affairs for traditionalism reinforced a persecution complex. Pope Francis’s indifference to the EF, combined with his forceful criticism of culture-warrior ideologies and priorities, places many traditionalists in a new quandry. The EF now has some legal protection, but ultramontanism and the overt politicization of morality have been exiled beyond the mountains for the foreseeable future. Pope Francis’s emphasis on a reinterpretation of Christian witness and evangelization as the exercise of personal charity and not the creation of political action committees will not sit well with a traditionalist community which has eagerly supported political combat at the preferred mode of engagement with greater society.

      I would hope that traditionalists refocus their priorities towards a less political and more cooperative stance in both the internal and external forums. The question now is not the ability to celebrate or attend the EF, but if traditionalism can honestly and fruitfully move with changing viewpoints not only from the Holy Father but within the wider Church.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #45:
        I know I’ve said this too many times already, but I really think there will be an ever-increasining gap between two camps of traditionalists. The more extreme will flock to the SSPX, while the rest will stay. This may mean some official Masses will lose numbers while the SSPX gains a few people in the short term.

        I think Burke is right about SP – Francis won’t touch it. He has no need to fulfill the vindictive fantasies of the anti-Latin Mass crowd because he has real work to do and because it doesn’t actually help the Church or her people. Francis would need a good reason and, objectively speaking, there is none.

      2. @Jack Wayne – comment #46:
        Jack, I agree — Pope Francis could revoke SP and UE if he wanted to, but it’s highly unlikely that he would. Why poke a hornet’s nest? As you say, he has real work to do. I find this kind of liturgical pluralism messy, but Pope Francis seems to have no problem coping with messiness.

        What I think more likely is that he applies pressure — through direct instruction or by moving bishops or cardinals around — to the more extreme groups, communities where the NO is regularly critiqued from the pulpit, or where there is a lot of focus on liturgical finery, or where the priests refuse ever to use the NO.

        The trads harbour at least as many “vindictive fantasies” as the progressives: an end to communion in the hand, a global ban on female altar servers, EP1 the only prayer allowed, concelebration severely restricted, an end to the congregational exchange of the peace, cardinals like Ranjith and Burke ascending to power, all seminarians required to learn the Tridentine Mass, etc etc.

        I don’t think Pope Francis will revoke SP but I also don’t think he will implement any of the “fantasies” in the previous paragraph.

      3. @Jonathan Day – comment #48:
        I think all seminarians should be required to learn the EF – that doesn’t seem vindictive at all. The other things you listed involve revoking permission, yet learning the Tridentine Mass grants more opportunities to priests and faithful. They shouldn’t be forced to use it unless they are assigned to a parish with a pre-existing Latin Mass community, but requiring priests to learn it seems like a logical thing to do.

        I’m aware of traddy fantasies – and I’m sure some folks are disappointed that the grand narrative you described earlier did not play out – but traditionalists haven’t really had any power or influence in the last forty years – even under Benedict, so it wasn’t that realistic to begin with. When a minority of a small minority has vindictive fantasies, it isn’t as worrisome as when those in larger and more powerful groups have them.

  15. Jack, with all due respect for your Tridentine sensitivities, there is very little interest in attending Masses that are not celebrated in one’s own language. I understand quite a bit of Spanish and speak a fair share of it, but I prefer Masses in English. Benedict created a right for priests to celebrate the old Mass in private or with groups of people who express a keen interest in it. There are very few people with that kind of keen interest. The two forms of the Mass are simply too different because one of them is completely untouched by the reforms mandated by SC. We have a couple of young priests who started of their public ministry with the notion that we’d all be better off if we started using the older rite with all its dignity and reverence. It didn’t take long for them to discover that almost noone–save for those in the Latin parish–was interested. So they wear their cassocks around everywhere, hold their hands stiffly together throughout Mass, and hold themselves above the people they serve. Perhaps a few years of Francis will give them a chance to move through their fondness for all things Tridentine.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #50:
      All the more reason to teach it widely. Why should the old Mass be the sole property of a certain “type” of priest? Where I live, parishes are closing and consolidating. A priest might have to care for as many as three or four congregations and celebrate who knows how many masses. What happens if one of those churches has a long-standing Latin Mass? Does he refuse to serve part of his flock? Do they get their own special priest?

      If those priests you know really do hold themselves above everyone else – then that is wrong. However, it seems they have humbly submitted to serving the people in their care even if those people do not share the same liturgical sensibilities. That is more than I have seen from a few priests who were given charge of Latin Mass folk only to refuse to serve them and view them with utter disdain. It goes both ways. Traditionalists aren’t the only ones wanting a smaller, purer Church. Maybe a few years of Francis will soften their hearts too.

  16. The Pope took the right direction with Cardinal Burke. He should send him packing. His next assignment should be as a working Priest at St Stanislous Church in St. Louis, Missouri. His task SHALL be to return the church back as a Roman Catholic Church as was since the 1800’s and approved by then Bishop Kenndrick. His 2nd Task he SHALL remove the applied Excommunication and Supression of all thet were Excommunicated trying to save,from sale,their beloved church. After comleting those task have him go to argenntina and try to fill Pope Francis’s shoes in the blighted poor neighborhood. He need to learn to be humble,

  17. We dont need masses in latin. We need to understand what is going on at the mass always so all can particapate. No one completely understood what was going on in latin. To this day I dont think the traditionalist uderstand either. We do however need to continue masses in the language of our country. I agree with Pope Francis.

  18. We need more like Cardinal Burke who protect the integrity of the Blessed Sacrament. He was my choice for pope following the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.

    I find the ambiguity of Pope Francis’ remarks unsettling, especially as one who tries to honestly impart the teachings of the Church in RCIA. I agree with Cardinal Burke on abortion and on the enforcement of Canon 915. Pope Francis’ silence at the implementation of ‘Obamacare’, and on the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA Decision has been deafening, especially in light of some of his comments. If silence does indeed presume consent, we are in trouble. He could potentially cause a schism in the Church.

    I pray for him, and for the Church.

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