Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal Burke’

Doing God’s Will seems to be Invigorating

May 12th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Cardinal Burke looks about 10 years younger in some of his recent photos.  Leaving the Apostolic Signatura and taking charge of the Order of Malta seems not only to have created a world-wide presence and responsibility, but also an effective  pulpit from which the Cardinal’s faith is shown in both words and actions.  He has taken on a number of initiatives, with pro-life very deep in his heart, and is reported to be the only Cardinal who joined in the March for life this past weekend in Rome! Extraordinary!  And yet, it seems to be that very activity which is putting a special joy into his demeanor.

IMG_8886LifeSiteNews reported about the May 10 march:  “Many participants gathered in St. Peter’s Square prior to the march, to hear Pope Francis deliver the traditional Sunday recitation of the Regina Coeli at noon. After a meditation on the day’s gospel, the pope briefly greeted the participants in the march, saying that it is “important to collaborate together to defend and promote life.”  

“Participants then gathered just steps away from the Vatican, on Via della Conciliazione, where they heard testimonies from men and women whose lives had been affected by abortion, before marching through central Rome, finishing at the Piazzale of Bocca della Verità (the mouth of truth).”

In addition, the march drew attention to the very important subject of the risk to children as targets of gender ideology.

Cardinal Burke’s presence drew widespread attention and acclaim.  His activism is a model for all Catholics.  It is particularly striking how much more joyous he appears in recent pictures.  Read more.

See also FOTO Gallery at

Closer to home, revisit the Cleansing Fire coverage of Bishop Matano at the 2015 March for Life in Washington DC here.

Cardinal Burke — A Light upon the Lampstand

March 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris


This is an absurdly long post.  I know it.  But I’ve chosen to go ahead with it for three reasons:  1) Cardinal Burke deserves the best tribute to his righteousness that I can muster, and to do less would be unjust 2) This is more of a documentary post than a blog post and, lest the information and links be lost, it seemed convenient to put it all together in one place.  There are many subtleties which, if left out, destroy the tenuous fabric of the picture, and 3) while of a length better to submit for publication elsewhere, the delays, re-writing or red tape to pursue that outlet would needlessly delay what needs to be timely said.  However, if it does become possible to publish elsewhere, I will take down this post, if necessary.

OK, so what is the reader’s defense?

Scroll through to the conclusions at the end and decide if you want to read any of the analysis.  That makes sense to me, and I hope makes sense to those who just want to know the conclusions.  This subject isn’t going away. It is going to gain even more import as the agenda for Synod 2015 shapes up for next October.


This post attempts to go deeper on two prior Cleansing Fire posts:   Cardinal Burke quoted: “I will resist….” and its follow-up post: “Resisting”, Canon 212, and Galatians .  Clearly, Cardinal Burke’s reply, that he would “resist” a “change” to Church doctrine that would allow the validly married / divorced / ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion, has stirred much reflection and opinion.  Since it was a theoretical question, why would he answer it, something rarely done in high pressured interviews?  There may be three possibilities, any or all of which might be true, or not.  First, perhaps Cardinal Burke knows that it is not really a ‘theoretical’ question, but rather a likely happening, which is unfolding before his eyes.  Second, if the Pope is implicated in the orchestrating of the Synod toward the reported change, as some fear (and which Cardinal Kasper claims), Cardinal Burke will have pre-empted any subsequent order of obedience to the contrary.  Third, perhaps the Cardinal is preparing us for what we must do if even an angel were to try to preach another gospel to us.   In that case, he himself is modeling what we have a right to do if even a Pope attempts to change Doctrine.

Another reason for this post is that Annonymouse commented, asking “whether Cardinal Burke should be so outspoken, or whether he would be more effective to advance his arguments privately to the Holy Father”?  It is a good question, and deserves an answer, beyond yes or no.  The question prompted my looking carefully into some of the developments over the last year and a half, involving a number of different pieces of input, and peering into Vatican politics, making this a long, detailed post, but hopefully not without value.  Further, the more I looked into this matter, the more Cardinal Burke seems deserving of our gratitude, for his serving well the people of God.

The following observations and opinions are offered to advance our dialogue; good people can certainly disagree on the conclusions.  But the facts of what was reported in the media are unchanged and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate.  But I don’t have any special  insight into the situation, although  I do have one private communication from Cardinal Burke, sent during the Synod (!), in reply to my mailing last September to Cardinals and Bishops.  From small clues in public statements, from relatively unchallenged media rumor, from news reports, and from a certain momentum which has built up among the laity– all  shed further light, as from a Lampstand, on the role Cardinal Burke has manifested, and the sacrifice he has made to do so.   

Also considered in this analysis are the character and words of those who stand with Cardinal Burke, and the questionable reputations of some who sided against him; e.g. an article was recently published in which Cardinal Wuerl (who gives communion to flagrantly pro-abortion politicians!) criticized Cardinal Burke as a ‘dissenter’, reported by LifeSiteNews in an article “…pot calls the kettle black.”  

Background on Cardinal Burke in the Vatican

 Cardinal Burke 2  Let us begin, for perspective, by considering the role of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke in the Vatican .    On June 27, 2008, Cardinal Burke was named by Pope Benedict XVI to be Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the first non-European to hold a position which is one of the most powerful in the Catholic Church, and includes oversight of the Roman Rota, which receives appeals regarding decrees of nullity from litigants in various Marriage Tribunals.  Abp. Burke was elevated to Cardinal in November, 2010, and was one of the Cardinal-electors who participated in the 2013 Conclave which elected Pope Francis.  Cardinal Burke clearly was deeply trusted by Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is one of the people who has stood by Cardinal Burke, most recently publicly praising his service after Pope Francis terminated him as a member of the Curia. 

Staffing changes in such powerful positions are not unexpected when a new Pope arrives, but “how” changes are made, even the slightest nuances, can project admiration or contempt for the person replaced.   The manner in which Pope Francis (and his “PR office” aka Vatican Press Office of Frs. Lombardi and Rosica) left rumors “hanging” for weeks,  and that he moved the 66 year old (relatively young) Cardinal from being head of the Vatican’s highest court into a largely ceremonial, relatively powerless position, has deeply concerned many faithful Catholics.  They see in the “way” it was handled, a “slap in the face” or  “punishment” for Cardinal Burke’s outspokenly traditional views expressed at the 2014 session of the Extraordinary Synod.  That may well be true, and it may even be that he himself was on trial (under pressure or threat) during the Synod before a final decision to remove him was announced three weeks later.   But it was a longer and deeper journey, in my opinion, than just the Synod, and one which needs to be told in order to answer Annonymouse’s question on behalf of many who might wonder why the matter couldn’t have been handled in an alternative, more interpersonal way.  By the end of this detailed post, one might even be wondering if Cardinal Burke himself welcomed reassignment and even provoked it.

Consistory Warning Bells

Pope Francis announced on October 8, 2013, 209 days after his election as Pope, the calling of  an Extraordinary Synod to be scheduled one year later.  In retrospect, one might be surprised at the rush to convene a Synod, although the immediacy was largely unremarked in the media.  In preparation for that Synod, there was  a consistory held in February 21-24, 2014.  By then, the somewhat ambiguous agenda for the Synod had morphed into the German Walter Cardinal Kasper’s own agenda (which that Cardinal would later claim had been overtly the Pope’s agenda, an allegation which Pope Francis has apparently neither acknowledged nor denied.) However, at least part of Pope Francis’s Synod agenda was prescribed in his own words in Zenit  on September 17, 2013 (before the Synod was announced) regarding the divorced, and remarried, and their receiving the Eucharist.  In a meeting with the priests of Rome, he said:  “It is a serious problem regarding the Church’s responsibility towards families living in this situation. The Church must now do something to solve the problem of marriage annulment”.  

These last 7 words very clearly separate Pope Francis’s view from that of Cardinal Burke.  The Cardinal sees that a couple is either married or not.  The annulment follows reality.  It is not a “problem” but an opportunity to establish the Truth, and there is a “right” to have the Truth established.  The Pope’s words, on the other hand, seem more oriented to the annulment being a facilitator of dissolution, rather than a finding of Truth.  What IS the “problem” of marriage annulment to which the Pope refers?   Is there really a “problem”?  Is an inconvenience to the obstinate sinner a problem?  Or is being out of step with secular government  a “problem”?  Or is holding the line on Christ’s teaching when other churches don’t do so a “problem?” Rather,  these might be seen as “glories” of the Church and of those who serve the Church.  (From St. Irenaeus in Against the Heresies:  “This is man’s glory–to remain steadfast in the service of God.”)

Pope Francis gave Cardinal Kasper extraordinary latitude  to dust off his writings from 20-30 years earlier (which apparently were never supported by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), or by Pope Saint John Paul II.)  Cardinal Mueller, now Prefect of the CDF, has vehemently opposed Cardinal Kasper’s so-called “pastoral” proposals, including his pressing to allow validly married, then divorced and ‘remarried’ persons to be able to receive the Eucharist (clearly against Church Teaching). Christ taught that such persons are adulterers. Therefore, those persons are in serious sin and cannot worthily approach the Eucharist.

With such free rein, Cardinal Kasper’s consistory speeches (prevented from dissemination, but parts are leaking out) primed the pump as early as February 2014, to prelates preparing an agenda for the Synod, effectively spotlighting who would likely be the supporters of Cardinal Kasper’s position, and who would not.  A majority of those invitation-only attendees of the first Synod session, in October 2014, voted ‘yes’ on three separate matters of controversy, although a necessary 2/3 majority vote was not achieved.  To complicate matters further, the three items rejected should have been left out of the final “Relatio” that was issued, but it was (questionably) attributed to Pope Francis that it should be left in, but with a mention that it had not passed the 2/3 vote.  Apparently that footnote is lost in some translations, and by the time the delayed English translation was available, marriage was no longer being described as just between a man and a woman, text on which the delegates had voted, adding further to the impression of a high level of manipulation in the document that is supposed to become a working document for the 2015 Synod session.  It is no wonder that faithful Cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as the laity, have a high level of concern and skepticism.

Duel of the Authors — not a level playing field

The February 2014 consistory meeting, in which Cardinal Kasper trumpeted his so-called “pastoral practice,” inevitably led to the realization that it would only undermine doctrine as well as true pastoral care,  if implemented. But, by then, the content was already in the Synod plans.  Such error was the real wake-up call for many traditional and faithful prelates, especially Cardinal Burke.  Many of the laity didn’t “get it” until the two Relatios were released during the eventual Synod.  Then the Catholic media and blogosphere were outraged, and the full import of the Kasper solution and its divisiveness in the Church was understood.

But Cardinal Burke did “get it”, at least as early as the consistory, if not earlier. ScreenShot238Over the next 6 months, in cooperation with Cardinal Mueller of the CDF and other noted theologians and experts, a book was produced, Remaining in the Truth of Christ. It was an extraordinary effort that must have been especially blessed by the Holy Spirit to have been completed and readied in such a short time, a noble effort to educate the prelates who would be attending and voting in the Synod.  Cardinal Burke addressed head-on why there is no “annulment problem” in his chapter: “The Canonical Nullity of the Marriage Process.”

“Resisting”, Canon 212, and Galatians

February 16th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Rather than imposing a VERY long comment on the thread regarding Cardinal Burke’s “I will resist,” it seemed better to begin a new post, focused more toward the sphere in which we can and sometimes must resist. Such discussion is perhaps one reason why St. Paul says we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, in Philippians 2:12

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling….”

While we begin with, and always embrace, the Assent of Faith, nevertheless we work out our salvation one step at a time. There are limitations on our obedience to hierarchy when such obedience would contravene the moral law, for example.  We would not steal in order to keep a parish community solvent, would we?  Even if commanded to do so? What parent would send his or her child to a Religious Education class with a known or even suspected sexual predator in order that the child might be admitted to Holy Communion?

One thing that we learned from the sexual abuse scandal was that members of the Church hierarchy are also human, sinners who are working out their own salvation “with fear and trembling.”  We rightfully castigate leadership that covered up sexual crimes, moved predators from parish to parish, and did not protect the flock. Actually, the laity has been very “light” in the criticism of brother priests of those predators, who knew or suspected and remained silent. And they were ‘light’ on a number of prelates on whose watch the abuse occurred, without even asking what might have been done earlier to ferret out the abuse?  Only God will know who failed and how much.  And only God will know how much the priest sexual abuse scandal has been (or will be) turned to effecting the good of more involvement in matters which endanger the faith of the laity; i.e. resisting revision of Doctrine, no matter who promulgates the changes.  Did God work, to the good, even the great scandal of the 20th century to prepare us for one that could be imminent?

Cardinal Burke 5Why is Cardinal Burke’s involvement now so important?  If prelates of high rank and influence had gone public years earlier in the sexual abuse matter, even in a general way, would much suffering have been avoided? Would the image of the Church now be more able to influence  today’s secular world for the good?  Is the threatened abandonment of Doctrine (through the mechanism of a Synod, e.g.) such an approaching wolf, that one shepherd, at least, must get lay attention by crying out, at his own risk: “I will resist”?  Will his own fear and trembling be echoed in our own fear and trembling as we don’t run or hide, but rather engage in our own prudent response, given sufficient warning?

The best defense is, of course, always prayer and discernment of what we are called to do.  We pray that we are not called to enter into ‘the test.’  Everyone can pray; not everyone will have the clarity and courage to undertake a prominent resistance, whatever that will mean.  But all are called to resist sin, in whatever form it appears.   Another key element of our own protection is being well-catechized, and continuing to deepen in the Faith.  The support as well as the correction by our brothers and sisters in the Faith is key to our own endurance.  Hence, even discussing these matters together, as we are doing here, is vital to working out our own role “in fear and trembling.”

The following is Canon 212, copied from the website of The St. Joseph Foundation, Code of Canon Law Book Covera not-for-profit foundation which vindicates the rights of Catholics under the Law of the Church. The term “Christian Faithful” includes clergy as well as laity. Thus, Cardinal Burke would also seem to have rights herein.  Moreover, one might ask if it were not better for him to have publicly verbalized his concerns now, before he is possibly forbidden to do so and conflicted with demands of obedience, and encounters an even more difficult decision. Without limiting current discussion only to this Canon, it is also appropriate to mention that the person who should most know what Canon Law permits or prohibits is Cardinal Burke, having served for years as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.   Moreover, departure from his prior practice of more silence simply serves to elevate the importance with which he views what he is saying to us.

Canon 212

§1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Note in particular that “opinion” in section 3 is modified by the requirement that the person expressing the opinion express it “according to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess.”  It does not convey a willy-nilly right to insist on our own ill-formed opinions, for example, or to create dissent for the sake of dissent. It assumes a certain level of catechesis, as well as good will.  But also note that it does not require only a one-on-one ‘up the ladder’ communication.  Some of our prior experience from years gone by would indicate much of such input was simply disregarded anyway.  Partly, that is because Canon 212 is missing the corresponding obligation on the part of hierarchy to respond; however, rights aren’t given without some expectation of response.  Nevertheless, there also is no obligation to express concerns just one time and let it go.  (St. Catherine of Siena didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer in asking the Pope to return to Rome, did she?) Moreover, section 3 is specific that we can make our opinions known “to the rest of the Christian Faithful”, as we do on this blog, e.g.  So too, apparently, can Cardinal Burke!


I have been particularly concerned about Cardinal Kasper’s hijacking of the word “Gospel” in his arguments regarding the “Gospel of the Family,”  and even more concerned about the repeated use of this term in the Relatios from the Synod.  While even Saint Pope John Paul II may have used the term as understandably illustrative, he never used it to introduce a departure from Gospel Teaching.  In one sense, there is no “Gospel of the Family” or ” Good News of the Family.”  The Relatios catalog more problems than good news.

We must be clear.  There are four Gospels that comprise Sacred Scripture, attested as divinely inspired: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  There is no other Gospel, and the not-so-subtle “language” by which Cardinal Kasper tries to legitimize his desperation is transparently in error, as evidenced by the attempt to permit those living in what Christ called “adultery” to commit the sacrilege of receiving Holy Communion.  We should be grateful that the error is so clear, flagrant, and easy to oppose with strong voice.  What I have most held onto during this period is St. Paul to the Galatians 1: 6-12.  It is worth memorizing:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Is it not ironic that at least part of the motivation to be more like the world, more like the Churches which do homage to the world, is indeed “pleasing men?”  St. Paul nailed it, giving us fair warning.

Cardinal Burke quoted: “I will resist….”

February 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

I hardly know what to think on this matter.  Nothing I received in my Catholic education prepares me for such a scenario.  I greatly admire Cardinal Burke, and I am very concerned about the path being taken by Cardinal Kasper, the Synod, and what seems to be Pope Francis’s concurrence.  But, what is the guideline for how we are to act?  Where is the line between sin and conscience?  Looking for input and discussion.

Lifesite News: Cardinal Burke on “too feminized” Church; liturgy

January 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Cardinal Burke: Catholic Church has ‘become too influenced by radical feminism

“In a wide-ranging interview Cardinal Raymond Burke used frank language to express his grave concerns about the way in which the Catholic Church has been damaged by radical feminism. He also addressed, with a candor rarely heard from pastors, sexual immorality and liturgical abuse.”   See article here.


“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,” the cardinal told Matthew James Christoff, founder of ‘The New Emangelization’, an evangelizing mission focused on men.”

“’Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society,’ said Cardinal Burke. ‘So much of this tradition of heralding the heroic nature of manhood has been lost in the Church today.’”

“‘The Church has become so ‘feminized,’ he said, that ‘men are often reluctant to become active in the Church.’ He explained: ‘The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.’”

“The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service,’ he added. While emphasizing that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church, Cardinal Burke said the introduction of altar girls ‘has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.’”

“The problems men face that have been largely ignored by the Church are especially related to sexuality.  The cardinal decried the ‘very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship.’ The problem was compounded by ‘an explosion of pornography’ in society, he said, ‘which is particularly corrosive for men because it terribly distorts the whole reality of human sexuality.’”

“Turning to liturgy, Cardinal Burke said, ‘There has been, and continues to be, serious liturgical abuses that turn men off.’  He suggested that the Traditional Latin Mass holds for men, especially young men, a great appeal.  ‘The Ordinary Form, if it’s celebrated very reverently with good music, can have the same strong positive effect on men,’ he added. ‘Men don’t go in for this kind of corny approach to the Mass when it becomes some kind of feel-good session, or where there is irreverence.'”

For the full interview see