Pope Punishes Staunchly Conservative Cardinal Who Opposes Francis’ Reforms
Burke: Franco Origlia/Getty Images Francis: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis is targeting yet another staunch religious conservative Cardinal in the Catholic Church who has openly criticized the Vatican.

Cardinal Raymond Burke was ordained a priest by Pope Paul VI in 1975; in 1989, he was named the first American Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, by Pope John Paul II. In July 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; in 2008 he was named its Prefect, thus making him the second-highest ranking American prelate at the Vatican after Cardinal Willam Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On November 20, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated Burke to the cardinalate. Burke criticized Pope Francis in October 2014, saying, “There is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,” On November 8, 2014, Burke was removed as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, by Francis.

“Pope Francis has decided to punish one of his highest-ranking critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke, by revoking his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary in the second such radical action against a conservative American prelate this month, according to two people briefed on the measures,” AP reported.

“The pope reportedly said that Burke was a source of ‘disunity’ in the Church and that he was using the privileges afforded to retired cardinals against the Church,” The Catholic News Agency reported.

 Burke and other conservative cardinals asked Francis to clarify his outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and Francis reportedly never answered them; they also asked whether church blessings could be bestowed on same-sex couples. AP reported they “received a conditional maybe in response.”

Burke criticized Francis’ reforms last month, telling a conference called “The Synodal Babel,” “It’s unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit by some has the aim of bringing forward an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine.”

Burke bluntly said in a 2016 interview titled Hope for the World: To Unite All Things in Christ: “If you really understand Islam, you understand that the Church really should be afraid of it.”

Burke stated:

When [Muslims] become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country. If that’s what the citizens of a nation want, well, then, they should just allow this to go on. But if that’s not what they want, then they have to find a way to deal with it … There is no place for other religions…as long as Islam has not succeeded in establishing its sovereignty over the nations and over the world. It is important for Christians to realize the radical differences between Islam and Christianity in matters concerning their teaching about God, about conscience, etc. If you really understand Islam, you understand that the Church really should be afraid of it. Islam is a religion that, according to its own interpretation, must also become the State.

Burke said the West should “be firm about the Christian origin of our own nation, and certainly in Europe, and the Christian foundations of the government, and to fortify those.” Turing to Catholic leaders who thought Islam is “a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith,” he fired back, “That simply is not objectively the case.”

Burke has been outspoken throughout his career; he said in 2004 that he would not give the Eucharist to John Kerry or other Catholic politicians who publicly support legalized abortion. He stated that Catholics should not vote for politicians who support abortion. In 2008, he said, “the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death’, because of its choices on bioethical questions,” especially elective abortion.

In May 2009, Burke stated, “Since President Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience.”

In October 2014, Burke referred to gay relationships as “profoundly disordered and harmful.” After the May 2015 same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, Burke said, “I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviors, they never dared to say this was marriage.”

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