What in the world is Cardinal Burke doing?  What can he and his compatriots be thinking? The cardinal and several other clerics have published a Declaration of Truths which purports to be a clarification of Catholic beliefs that the signatories hold to be under attack by theologians and clerics within the Church, including the Pope himself.  Please check out the story and the actual document here:  http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/new-declaration-of-truths-affirms-key-church-teachings.  I’ve had the honor and privilege of meeting Cardinal Burke several times.  He is a good and gentle man.  However, in the past few years, he has developed such an antipathy towards the Pope that his own words begin to take on the echo of a parallel magisterium.  He is by far the most recognizable signatory of this document, but his willing acolyte is the peripatetic Bishop Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Kazakhstan, who is almost always traveling around the world championing his view of orthodoxy rather than residing in the diocese he serves.  Other signers include two more Kazakh bishops and a retired Lavian cardinal.  Not the most heavyweight group that could have been assembled.  In fact, three Kazakh bishops almost equal the number of Catholics in that country, now a Muslim state for the past seven hundred years since the Mongols destroyed the medieval Nestorian Christian Church.

‘Clarifying’ Catholic Teaching Or A Parallel Magisterium?

In essence, the group’s message is a restatement of Catholic dogmas, doctrines and laws that are under question by some in the Church.  The signatories place their particular spin on what those teachings actually say.  Cardinal Burke and companions want to make sure that Catholics understand what should be believed and what should be rejected as inappropriate explanations or simply errors in Catholic belief.  They are concerned that the Church is spiritually ill and in the midst of “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation.”

Here’s the problem with what they’ve done.  A bishop must ensure orthodox, i.e. correct belief, in his diocese.  Only two of the signatories actually have a diocese to govern.  But no bishop or cardinal has the power to correct or mandate what the worldwide Catholic Church should believe.  Nor does anyone other than the Pope, or the the universal body of Bishops in union with the Pope, have the authority to define that belief.  Cardinal Burke and companions would no doubt agree with this, but the document leaves the impression of what I called above a parallel magisterium.  That would be a separate system of truths that these clerics believe better explains Catholic dogma and doctrine.  They worry that the current situation confuses the laity, but they are printing a document that Catholics could easily believe supplants, clarifies, or improves upon the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and papal teaching.  Well you know something?  No one but the pope gets to do that.  Cardinal Burke knows better and so do the other signatories.

Controversial Public Opposition To The Pope

I do not mind them being upset with the Pope or disagreeing with him.  But Cardinal Burke, especially, has a wide following among conservative Catholics, many of whom hang on his words as if they were the Gospel itself.  He knows that he is the vocal opposition to the Pope, and it is unfortunate that he is exploiting that fact to sow dissension.  Fight these battles within the Roman Curia or within the body of bishops, but don’t scandalize the faithful with criticisms that undermine the authority of Pope Francis.  It’s unfair to the people, especially when the document makes no clear distinctions between absolute dogma, doctrine or church law.  It just lists issues as if every one is as important or necessary as the other.  For instance, celibacy is a church law and can be changed without harming the essential nature of the Catholic faith.  The belief that Jesus is both fully God and fully human is absolutely essential to the existence of the Church.  But one would never know that from the document itself.

No Clarity, Just A New Kind Of Relativism

This document is scandalous to the laity and disrespectful to the person of the Pope.  Pope Francis deserves better from those who claim to serve him.  If they are really convinced he is wrong and has created a climate of confusion, there are ways to address that issue that don’t involve a public hissy fit–which is exactly what this Declaration of Truths is.  These disgruntled clerics may think they are doing a public service, but they are manipulating the media and the faithful to propound their own versions of the truth.  In the secular world, everybody gets to decide what the truth is for himself or herself.  That’s how much relativism has taken hold of the public sphere.  You have your truth and I have mine.  Cardinal Burke has decided to ride the apocalyptic horse of relativism in a race with the Pope to win the hearts and minds of believers.  In the Preakness race a few weeks ago, a horse threw its jockey and ran the race alone, crossing the finish line riderless.  Cardinal Burke may find himself in the same position as that jockey, left in the dust as his horse–his view of the truth–goes riderless into the public sphere, causing more of the confusion and spiritual sickness he claims to abhor.


About Eric Barr
Monsignor Barr is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. In his 35 years of priesthood, he has been pastor, principal, teacher, Vicar for Clergy and Vicar General. He is a former associate editor of a newspaper and a novelist. He speaks on Celtic Theology and Current Catholic Issues. You can read more about the author here.
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  • Maggie Sullivan

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/34826e42798da2f0f842e5e09c809841e78d27f8e9cc9a06fa2c3fce86a056ee.jpg Pope Francis has turned the Church in China over to the Communists, he called an Italian abortionist who murdered thousands of babies with her own hands a great person, praises Muslims as they slaughter Christians, and has sown confusion throughout the Church.

    Here is the Pope’s “great” abortions killing a child.

  • Doris Muir

    This is what happens when we fail to listen to Jesus when He said “Let the weeds grow with the wheat until I come” now hear the word of the Lord

  • Toni Vercillo

    Thank you for this, Monsignor! Sadly, some Catholics, including Cardinals. no longer know, nor believe, who the Pope is; in his person, in his Office, in his Magisterium, and in his Divinely appointed authority.

  • Andy

    Let’s see I can only find two sites that support your claim about his support of Bonino – neither sitebis onebthat I can trust. I would also suggest that you look at what he was talking about is her support of refugees. I don’t find praise, I find him speaking of what we have in common. Please stop the hysterics.

  • Maggie Sullivan

    From the Declaration of Truths, “A common voice of the Shepherds and the faithful through a precise declaration of the truths will be without any doubt an efficient means of a fraternal and filial aid for the Supreme Pontiff in the current extraordinary situation of a general doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church.”

    We have a ton of confusion….these men are just trying to help

  • Sigroli

    What mean “we,” Kimo Sabe? Those of us who follow the Ope, in other words, faithful Catholics, are not confused.
    Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia. Et ibi sum

  • Sigroli

    She can’t stop the hysterics: she’s too busy Making Amurika Great Again.

  • Maggie Sullivan

    Good point!

    Just wondering for anyone else…….can a person in two marriages receive Holy Communion?
    Can a person who is in four marriages receive Holy Communion?

  • Sigroli

    If the individual is aware of the sinfulness of his/her state in life and continues to live it intentionally, with full and unencumbered consent, then no. If any of these conditions are lacking, then the point is moot, and will vary according to the subjective state of the individual’s soul. AND THIS IS NOT NEW TEACHING.

  • Linda Daily

    I’ve long thought that Cardinal Burke and the EWTN alternative American magisterium is centered on what they see as re-establishing an imagined Christendom rather than following Jesus in docility to the movements of the Holy Spirit. They seek worldly power, as did the Zealots, not the reign of God. We are all subject to this temptation and must guard against it. The Church is being sifted mightily.

  • anthony46

    Cardinal Burke would have more credibility if he didn’t prance around with a 20 foot cape like some fairy queen.

  • Anzlyne

    I thought the article was snarky and so was the use of that photo

  • a sinner

    Then why doesn’t she ban pre-shredded cheese?

  • Charles C.

    And which of the statements in the letter signed by Cardinal Burke does the Pope or the Monsignor disagree with? Really, is the objection that no one but the Pope can restate Catholic truths? If the Cardinal is wrong, point out his error. An appeal to authority is a mighty weak logical argument. Besides, any member of the faithful can question the Pope or the teachings of the Church, if they are looking for clarification.

    Clarification is not this Pope’s strong suit.

  • Carrie Jerome

    This article is not helpful in the least. It accuses Cardinal Burke of error without giving a single example or providing any counterpoint to claims made in the document referenced. The document, on the other hand, contains supporting citations from Church documents. If you have valid objections, please, by all means, enlighten your readers.

  • Aaron

    Excellent article. It seems Cardinal Burke and friends have lost their trust in the promises of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s protection of the Church.

  • Fred Haehnel

    Hey Barb

    Are you really a Msgr?

    How dare you impune Cardinal Burke with your drivel. Go for a long walk off a short plank.



  • Jong Ricafort

    Charles C.
    Have you not understand what Monsignor Barr had simply explained well?
    Cardinal Burke et,al cannot bind a single interpretation they had made about the Doctrine of Catholic Faith, why?
    They simply have No Canonical Power and Teaching Authority aprt from the Vicar of Christ.
    What is the 2000 years Traditions upheld? The Church united to the Pope cannot err in teachings the faithfuls about the matters of faith and morals.
    How about Cardinal Burke et.al, can they spread errors and interpret the Church Doctrines without error being apart from the Vicar of Christ the Supreme Interpreter and Guarantor of Faith?
    Sorry, but the gospel Truth is, Jesus only promised His powerful protection to Peter.
    All the Cardinals, Bishops,expert theologians and even biblical scholars can be deceive by Satan to fall into errors or heresy but not the Pope. (Luke22:32)
    “The voice of Peter is the Voice of Christ”(Luke10:16) can we say the same with Cardinal Burke et,al?

  • Jong Ricafort

    Fred Haehnel
    Yes he is a Monsignor, and just because you did not agree with his simple explanation contrary to your embraced confusions doesn’t mean Cardinal Burke et,al had been impuned.
    Sorry, the simple TRUTH really hurts.
    Cardinal Burke et,al has No Teaching Authoirity apart from the Vicar of Christ and the worst of it, they cannot even “BIND” their interpretation as binding to the Universal Church, why? Because of the simple TRUTH, they have NO CANONICAL POWER apart from the Vicar of Christ.
    DUBIA belong to Satan and FAITH belong to Christ. (Ted Flynn)
    Do not be decieve.
    “OBEDIENCE to the Pope is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for salvation.”
    Did Jesus gave Cardinal Burke et,al a Duplicate Keys? NO!
    So, how can you enter Heaven if you embraced their Dubia?

  • Jong Ricafort

    Carrie Jerome
    The error in on the side of Cardinal Burke et,al. why?
    Cardinal Burke is both a Canon Lawyer and a Theologian and it is a mortal sin to repeatedly and continuosly violate Canon752 and ignores the simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis.
    The Declaration of Truth as interpreted by Cardinal Burke,et.,al has no merit, why?
    The simple DOGMATIC and CANONICAL TRUTH is, they have No Teaching Authoirty apart from the Vicar of Christ.
    Can they bind their a single interpretation contained in the Declaration of Truth? Sorry but the answer is NO!
    Do not be deceive.
    STAY IN THE ARK.My Jesus mercy.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Jong Ricafort,

    You’re absolutely correct, there is a misunderstanding. Perhaps I don’t write as clearly as I should.

    No single bishop can create a new, binding, teaching. However, every bishop is required by Canon Law (see Canons 375 – 392) to teach the faith and has full authority to do so. Sermons and books are presented as teaching the faith, and every priest does it as part of their duty.

    Bishops are not allowed to teach contrary to the faith of the Church, so in order to attack Cardinal Burke fairly one must show that he is teaching contrary to the Faith. That is why there are so many requests here for people to point out where, specifically, Cardinal Burke contradicts Church teaching. Would you be so kind as to show me where the Cardinal’s error is?

    (Oh, and Popes can and have fallen into errors and heresies, just not when teaching infallibly. Not every statement from a Pope is infallible, just not those which are solemn, official teachings on faith and morals.)

  • Charles C.

    That confuses me a bit.

    “Cardinal Burke and the EWTN alternative American magisterium” are always talking about the Church, the Faith, morals, and beliefs. The Pope, on the other hand, seems to spend a lot of time telling governments what policies they must introduce on immigrants, the environment, the economy, the death penalty, and other worldly things.

    It would seem that the Pope is seeking worldly power, but I may misunderstand you.

  • Charles C.

    “It’s a fact that we have conferences of bishops which are contradicting one another with regard to Amoris Laetitia; bishops contradicting one another; we have lay faithful who argue with one another over this; and so many priests are suffering in particular, because the faithful come to them, expecting certain things that are not possible because they’ve received one of the these erroneous interpretations of Amoris Laetitia.

  • Jong Ricafort

    Who are those Bishop who have a Canonical Authority to teach the faithful?
    Those Bishop must be united in Full Communion with the Pope.
    As Cardinal Caffara said it clearly reminding all Bishops who are opposing the Pope;
    “All bishops who are oppose to the Pope must go away because they are no longer one with Christ and will lead the faithful to eternal damnation.”
    What is the error of Cardinal Burke?
    Cardinal Burke is both a Canon Lawyer and a Theologian.
    Let’s take one famous example, Amoris Laetetia.
    Is Amoris Laetetia an already approved Magisterial Teaching? YES.
    Can Cardinal Burke express contrary views on Amoris Laetetia? NO!, why? Read Canon752
    How about can Cardinal Burke expressed his dissent on the media, is it allowed by the Church guidelines on all theologians who have dissenting opinion? NO!, why? it is contrary and violates the simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis on all theologians.
    That’s what happened in the first petitioner of Amoris Laetetia the so called “Filial Correctio” in accusing Pope Francis of teaching and spreading heresy. The Filial Correctio petitioner was signed by more than sixty theologians and priest but they cannot even follows a simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis and so they failed miserably. Have you ever heard of them again? No, but other names are just recycling their failed attempt like the Dubia Cardinals 5 arguments which was answered by Stephen Walford point by point. Please see the open letter of Stephen Walford to the Dubia Cardinals.
    Is Cardinal Burke, et al guilty of violating Canon752 and the evangelical guidelines in Donum Veritatis? Read it and discern for yourself. God bless

    Lastly, do not believe satan human cohorts concocted lies that there was already a Pope in Church history who committed heresies, its a LIE. No Pope in 2000 Church history had committed heresy, why? you will make Jesus a liar in Luke22:32.
    Do not be decieve.

  • Charles C.

    Section 1857: For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

    “Unencumbered” does not mean the same as “deliberate.”

  • Charles C.

    Dear Jong Ricafort,

    Your comment on the Dubia is interesting. Some points:

    1.) Dubia have been used before in the Church, even in this century.
    2.) Dubia means “Doubts,” but they are always in the form of yes-no questions. They are not opposing the Pope, they are asking for clarification from the Pope.
    3.) Despite the fact that the Dubia are addressed to the Pope, he has failed to answer. You claim Mr. Stephen Walford has anwered them, but A.) he doesn’t have the authority to answer for the Pope, and B.) if you are concerned with the authority of Cardinals, may I point out that Mr. Walford isn’t a member of any order of the priesthood or religious.
    4.) As noted elsewhere, the Pope’s failure to authoritatively address the question only increases confusion among the flock he is tasked with feeding.

  • Jong Ricafort

    Rash Judgement is a mortal sin.(Exodus20:16)
    Read 4th and 8th commandment.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Jong Ricafort,

    I’m confused yet again. You’re right that rash judgment is not a good thing, but what rash judgment are you referring to and who made it? Do you think that “It would seem . . . but I may misunderstand you.” Is a judgment of any kind, let alone a rash one?

    And even if it is called a judgment, which I deny, is it rash or wrong?

    Modern Catholic Dictionary:

    RASH JUDGMENT. Unquestioning conviction about another person’s bad conduct without adequate grounds for the judgment. The sinfulness of rash judgment lies in the hasty imprudence with which the critical appraisal is made and in the loss of reputation that a person suffers in the eyes of the one who judges adversely.

    That doesn’t cover my statement, which is why I asked to whom you were referring.

  • Jong Ricafort

    Papacy is a Divine Office and its mission is salvation of souls.
    You stated the Pope is spending a lot of time in worldly affairs and ending with statenent that he is seeking worldly powers..Thats a RASH JUDGEMENT.
    Do you have full knowledge of what the responsibilities of the Pope is? The Pope is in charge of more than 1.2 billion catholic souls plus the other souls belonging to other faith and religions are also must be united thru fraternal charity as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    What worldly power are you talking about?
    Salvation of souls transcends this world and the Power of the Pope is higher that all world powers combined, why? The power of the Pope is Divine and it comes from God.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Jong Ricafort,

    You may be surprised to see that I agree with you and always will, that the mission of the Pope is the salvation of souls and that he has a worldwide mission which brings him into contact with governments which he advises through speeches and publications. We also agree that he attempts to influence the policies of governments. To the extent that he is successful he is wielding power in the world.

    Oh, and on the rash judgment business? I think we agree that the Pope spends a lot of time on worldly affairs, that’s not surprising or even wrong unless he neglects the spiritual. And seeking worldly powers? Would it have been better if i had said “worldly influence over government policies?” He certainly is, and would never deny it. Of course he wants to exercise influence over governments.

    This line of conversation all started with Linda Daily’s claim that Cardinal Burke et al. are seeking worldly power and her inference that the Pope was not, that he was more spiritually minded. I disagreed with her for the reasons cited. Are we all good now?

  • Jong Ricafort


  • Charles C.

    Matthew 5:22 Be careful.

  • Jong Ricafort

    Im giving a description, and not calling you by that word.Its up to you to look in the mirror.The article is very simply explained and after all the explanations you still post comments making rash judgement on the Vicar of Christ.
    Who inspire you to attack the dignity of Pope Francis, Holy Spirit or Satan the Great Accuser?
    As St.Athansius said “Where there is slander there is satan”

  • Linda Daily

    The Pope speaks as Vicar of Christ on behalf of the poor, vulnerable and forgotten who are impacted the most by economic injustices and environmental disasters. Those who have ears should hear.

    On the other hand:


  • Charles C.

    Dear Linda Daily,

    “Speaking on behalf” is a phrase I don’t understand clearly. It can range between “National leaders, search your hearts. Remember the poor, who are Christ’s favorite children,” to “Governments must implement a carbon tax, ease the way for anyone who wants to enter the country by opening borders and providing aid and welfare, and vote to eliminate the death penalty and even life sentences.”

    The Church runs the risk of becoming just another social welfare agency and abandoning her primary mission. It’s a delicate balance. The Church is called to do both. My fear is that the Church is in danger of losing her balance.

  • Linda Daily

    The confusion is yours unfortunately.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Linda Daily,

    Let me rephrase that, then. Perhaps you can clear up my confusion. What do you mean by the phrase? Does it include the Pope saying that the death penalty is “impermissible” and that life sentences are a “hidden death penalty” and also wrong?” Does it include the Pope saying that a carbon tax is necessary? What, if anything, is the role of governments’ prudential judgments?

  • Linda Daily
  • Sigroli

    Oh, FFS, WITH FULL AND DELIBERATE CONSENT, then. Happy now? Get yourself s dictionary.

  • Charles C.

    Words matter, especially in this area. For example, Pope Francis used the word “inadmissible” when describing the death penalty instead of “evil” in his revision to the Catechism. It had only been used once before at that was to say that killing someone to harvest their organs was “morally impermissible.” Had he used the word “evil’ which is used 181 times in the Catechism, he almost certainly would have been called to retract it, failing that it might have meant the end of his papacy, and failing that, the end of the Church.

    Every decision we make is encumbered to some degree. Everything we do requires that we don’t do something else. There is a cost to every decision, so every decision is to some extent encumbered.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Linda Daily,

    I thank you most sincerely for directing me to those pages of quotes. They are inspiring and I will return to them.

    They don’t answer my question, though, which was what is the proper sphere of government? Is there some area where the Pope should say, “That’s none of my business, it’s up to you?” If so, I would nominate his demand for a carbon tax and his rejection of life sentences as candidates.

  • Linda Daily

    You seem fixated on carbon tax. I’m guessing a reaction to Laudato Si, in which the Pope stresses that environmental ecology impacts human ecology and poor stewardship among the wealthy and powerful unduly burdens the poor and vulnerable. Proof texting.

    Yes as Vicar of Christ the Pope, any pope, can (and I believe should) address and offer guidance on moral and ethical issues that impact the Church, the poor and vulnerable, and God’s creation.

  • Charles C.

    Dear Linda Daily,

    I think we agree on a lot. Yes, the Pope should, indeed has a duty to, address moral issues in the light of the teaching of the Church. These include the environment, immigration, etc. I’m glad that he did talk about it there.

    My references to the carbon tax are not prompted by Laudato Si, but rather by an address he made to business executives recently in which he claimed, specifically, that carbon taxes were essential. I mentioned it because it was one of his most recent statements and seemed to push the boundaries of his mandate.

    Yes, talk about the environment and encourage governments and individuals to take action to prevent it, but calling for specific policy choices on how best to accomplish it is intruding on governmental functions. It is only a step away from calling for a ban on plastic straws or requiring cars to get a certain level of miles per gallon.

    I fear that he dilutes his influence and encourages people to treat his words with less respect when he strays away from the moral and into policy choices.

  • Statistics Palin
  • Statistics Palin
  • Maggie..sometimes the confusion arises from our own inability to submit to authority and we lack the humility to ask ourselves first that is it possible that maybe we are in error and sowing confusion rather than Pope Francis.
    The Church has NEVER in its long history had a heretical Pope. I think its incumbent on all of us to remember this FACT especially when overcome with anxiety and fear surrounding our current Pontiff.