Have you heard the latest about Cardinal Burke?

Have you heard the latest about Cardinal Burke? November 11, 2014

I haven’t, and I’ve made it a point not to know what’s going on.

Why not? Because it’s not important to me. Me, as a layman with a job and a family and a personal conscience that keeps me busy enough all by itself. And if you were honest, you’d admit that it really isn’t important to you, either — not unless you work directly for Burke, or are his personal friend and will miss him when he moves to sunny Malta, the lucky son of a gun. It only seems important if you are addicted to following all the ins and outs of a 24-hour religious news cycle that has about as much to do with the Gospel as the schematics for the HVAC system at the Metropolitan Opera House has to do with music.

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  • ipgunn

    Sounds a lot like the story I heard about the 1st century Jew who said:
    Have you heard the latest about Jesus of Nazareth? I haven’t, and I’ve made it a point not to know what’s going on. Why not? Because it’s not important to me. Me, as a layman with a job and a family and a personal conscience that keeps me busy enough all by itself. And if you were honest, you’d admit that it really isn’t important to you, either – not unless you were a disciple of his, or his personal friend or apostle and will miss him when he moves on to the Kingdom of God, the lucky Son of a gun. It only seems important if you are addicted to following all the ins and outs of a 24-hour religious gossip cycle that has about as much to do with the Torah as the building plans for the wall around the temple have to do with the todah sacrifice.

    Silliness aside, there’s something to be said for not getting caught up in the overreactions to every latest political or bureaucratic development in the Church. At the same time, there’s something to be said for keeping abreast of what’s going on in the Church and remaining informed. Lots of people buried their heads in the sand during Vatican II (and it was easy to be in the dark before the dawn of the information technology age) when it would have been a lot better if people had been knowledgeable, spoken up, and changed things for the better – even if it’s just by praying.

    • gregcamacho8

      Jesus, Cardinal Burke being reassigned to Malta, Vatican II – what’s the difference?

    • chezami

      Some of us worthless neo-Catholics, possessed of diabolical Jesuitical subtlety, can discern just the teensiest difference between crucifixion and getting a comfy post in Malta with lots of free meals. One notices a certain lack of grip in Reactionary hysterics that confuse a bureaucratic reshuffling with the Passion and Death of Christ.

  • The Pious Statesman

    I guess Our Lord didn’t tell us to be aware of the signs of the times. You are too smart not to know that the Burke story is important–it is. It’s as important as the stories we have heard of the heroes of the Church who were scorned by the own brothers. Mark how Nicodamus was mocked by his brother Pharisees, such that he snuck around nooks and crannies to get to Jesus, because he knew he would be seen as an enabler of the ‘blasphemer’. When Burke– a son of the Church (term being used properly)– is reduced to an honorary position in such times as the Church is in, and the judases reign supreme (at least temporarily), it helps us to put into context the amount of suffering the Church is in, and how much prayer and fasting we have to do, to show Our Lord that we have contributed to the confusion in the world, but that we are contrite and require his mercy. It is that simple. Burke’s demise forces us to realize the dire situation of the Church and forces us to our knees to ask for forgiveness. It’s not a tabloid story. While it is the action of man that Burke is removed from his influential and prestigious office, it is a grace from God which invites us to the opportunity to wake up.

    • Dan M

      I disagree. Burke was demoted from several positions of influence for a reason. The Pope knows the reasons. Most trust the Pope and believe that those who do not expose their lack of faith in the Holy Spirit.

      The Catholic media spin is as bad any secular media outlet. The vitriol coming from certain Catholic circles is shameful.

    • gregcamacho8

      From Sherry Weddell:

      “What is interesting is that Cardinal George Pell – who was also one of the authors of the pre-Synod book – along with Burke – , is no one’s idea of a liberal or even a moderate, and made his feelings known loudly and clearly at the Synod – has been chosen by Pope Francis as one of his closest collaborators, heading up the new Vatican Secretary of the Economy. But nobody is talking about Pell – because he doesn’t fit the narrative of a covertly dissenting Pope removing conservatives from power. Pope Francis does seem to be picking leadership on other grounds than the oh too familiar US cultural war divisions. Francis also picked Bishop Anthony Fisher – often referred to as “Boy George” in Australia, Pell’s long time protege, who is both brilliant and completely orthodox – if slightly more smooth – to become the new Archbishop of Sydney. And that doesn’t fit the narrative either. I don’t know how each of these decisions were made – and neither do any of you – but they certainly aren’t fitting into a tidy conspiracy narrative.”

      • The Pious Statesman

        You don’t then understand bait and switch in politicking or chess. It’s embarrassing, but that is the reality of Rome–it’s always been this way–as historical documents tell us.

  • MJD

    So that’s the strategy then. Every sign from Rome that disrupts the narrative that Pope Francis is a paragon of Wojtylian/Ratzingerian orthodoxy shall be dismissed as unimportant.

  • Sus_1

    Pope Francis didn’t storm the Vatican and take over. He was elected by a 2/3 majority. People are forgetting this. I feel confident that Pope Francis knows better than I do about Cardinal Burke. I’ve never seen vitriol directed at a Pope like this.

    I feel like there are some Catholics that are being selfish. It’s like they want all the Catholicism for themselves and there’s nothing left for “bad” sinners like the gays and divorced people. That’s not how it works. We’re all “bad” sinners. If you keep people out, then the Church will be empty because we will all be out.

    • Martha Oram

      You’ve never seen vitriol like this? Then you weren’t paying attention during B16 or JPII. All popes get a ton of heat, Frances is getting the same – maybe he’s just getting it from different sources.

  • Tom

    The death of the Messiah? Roman persecutions? Heresies about the basic nature of Jesus persuading half the Church’s bishops? Muslim armies sweeping through thousands of miles of Christian territory? The Church splitting in two? Popes personally leading armies for conquest? Priests and Bishops and Cardinals and Popes living in almost comical levels of sin and corruption? The Church splitting in two again (and then a couple hundred times after that)?


    The Pope assigned a Cardinal I like to head the Order of Malta! Oh, the humanity! Malta! How ever will we survive? Truly, this is the end times!

  • anna lisa

    My husband works all of the time and when he isn’t working, he’s thinking about work, so he depends on me to keep him abreast of matters. If I’ve read something particularly inspiring or brilliant, I’ll just read it to him directly while we’re chilling over wine. Politics frankly bore us. Power plays, and pomp and circumstance in the Church make us roll our eyes. So when I started to tell him about the Burke thing he tried to stop me, because guys in red brocade dresses being replaced by other guys in red brocade generally don’t move him. But I got so excited and agitated he stopped and gave me the time of day, “Don’t you get it??(I insisted) Pope Francis doesn’t give a rat’s #ss about protocol! Benedict and JP (God LOVE them) didn’t want to step on conservative toes, but Francis is a *different* kind of gentleman…he’s more worried about the toes of the poor and the voiceless!–And he’s getting the job done, protocol be damned. It’s so..different than business as usual!!!–*Who* would have seen this coming? Only *Peter* himself could have reoriented our way of thinking about the conservatives being the *champions* of orthodoxy!”
    –Because when you really think about it–what IS orthodoxy other than Jesus who in pursuit of souls, warned another man what this would entail, saying: ‘the son of man has nowhere to rest his head’…

    • Ethel Wiess


    • jay

      Can you see Pope Francis in all that brocade and lace? Do you think our church went off tract? I think that our church went too far in it’s treatment of people who love the high life.

      • anna lisa

        I think Pope Francis makes lemonade from lemons. He probably offers it up. The idea that Bishops are *princes* really gets his goat though. He said something in his sermon yesterday about the virtues of settling some matters with the fists. Of course he’s probably bluffing, but this could potentially get interesting.

        • jay

          Yes, Pope Francis has given many sermons denouncing the clerics who dress like peacocks and prance around being self-referential. Also, he is no fan of the latin mass. I think Burke represents to Francis one of the things that is wrong with the Church. Francis is open to new ideas; Burke is not. I agree with you, things could get interesting.

          • anna lisa

            I married into a slightly insane South American family. When I was first getting to know them and their friends, I would get offended all the time over big or little things. They are *blunt*. They speak their minds. They love to boil over about religion and politics. If they think you’re too fat or too thin, they’ll just say it right to your face. RIGHT after they kissed you on both cheeks. One day you’re gorgeous the next day your’e a train wreck. It’s a lot to take in, but you get used to it, realizing you won’t survive with thin skin. I find myself laughing all the time over things the Pope says because it’s familiar. He even uses some of the same words as my husband who calls his best friend a “marica” (a man that is flamboyant and acts like a girl) or “monstros” (he calls our kids little monsters) but there is also this element of *affection* in those insults. It’s hard for Americans to understand. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t actually mean it though lol. Argentinians are notoriously vain. It’s pretty comical. The men are almost worse than the women! But the part that I think actually infuriates our Pope is worth being infuriated over. The upper class truly behaves like they are better than everyone else. They act like the poor were created by God to serve them. It doesn’t matter if they are Catholic, it’s like you can’t get it through their thick skulls that they aren’t a different kind of human. Americans hardly experience this mentality, but my guess is that Pope Francis has raw nerves from experiencing it in all the disgusting shapes it would take in his home land. I doubt Burke gets that. On the contrary, I would imagine that the Trad types really egged on the finery and displays. Most Catholics are just used to seeing the Church hierarchy dressed that way, but really, maybe it really is uncalled for, and servants of God should stop acting like princes that need palaces and carriages…

          • jay

            This is an excellent post, Anna Lisa! I think you have captured Pope Francis and his feverish concern with inequality, and it’s devastating effects on the poor, quite well. What gets to me are all those silly pictures of Burke wearing his cappa magna (which I think sounds like a college sorority), and having actual people carry the train. It represents the opposite of Francis’ idea of bishops being servant-leaders. Thanks again for a very thoughtful post.

          • anna lisa

            We seem to be in a steeper learning curve than usual and it’s clearly freaking out the ones who want to live in the past–but only because it is familiar. I think God will continue to urge us past our “comfort zone” but we inevitably grouse and complain and become nostalgic about things that weren’t worth clinging to–like the chosen people longing for the amenities in Egypt…:) Hopefully the bishops will get the memo and tone their dresses down! 😀
            Happy Friday!

  • niknac

    So many bishops need to go to “Malta”.

    • ShanaC
  • michicatholic

    For the 5000th time, he’s not moving to Malta. The Knights of Malta are headquartered in Rome. On the Aventine hill. He might have to take a taxi.

  • I don’t care a thing about Burke. I care that this may be the start of eliminating dissent about reducing us from seven to five sacraments.

    • Heather


      • It is very clear from Kasper the Friendly Cardinal that he thinks lifelong vocation is a mistake. It is equally clear from his German delegation that they believe the only mortal sin is failing to pay your government mandated tithe (church tax) and all others are welcome at their table, including racists who still think Africa has nothing to teach Europe.

        Without life long commitment, the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders are simply not Sacramental.

        This synod was supposed to be on the family, and it seems all they talked about was ways to destroy the family. The final document barely even mentioned children, only seven times in three paragraphs out of more than 200.

  • Cordelia

    I thought you might be amused to know that one, at least, of your readers looked over that headline and thought, “Huh. Wonder who’s Cardinal Burke?” I still don’t know, even having read your article and all the hot’n’bothered comments here – but you have persuaded me to continue placidly in my ignorance.

  • Naomi

    I would be interested in seeing a piece on how the relationship of the laity to the (institutional) Church has changed with more “popular” (internet) forms of media. No one has written this. As someone below mentioned, there was dissent with JPII, etc., but this seems to be different, perhaps because dissenting is not so isolating now. Whereas back in the day you either belonged to an SSPX (or similar) parish, or you were one of very few people you knew who said these kinds of things, now you can find an internet army of people of the same mind. Which may give more life to such dissent, misguided though it may be.

    As a Catholic who has kids and is pro-life, people often assume I literally hate Francis. It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s a kind of “whose side are you on” world: are you the ex-hippie, liturgical dancing, woman-priest ordaining, rainbow flag waving Francis-loving Catholic? Or are you the dozens of children, latin-mass going, unwed-mother shaming Francis-hating Catholic? The billions of simply faithful Catholics have no voice in media (present company excluded. 🙂 )