January 2015 Print

Church and World


Cardinal Burke’s Latest Interview

In early December, soon after his demotion from Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to Patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Raymond Cardinal Burke gave an interview to Gloria.tv in which he discussed many pertinent issues in the life of the Church today. What is of greatest interest about the interview is the straightforwardness of His Eminence’s answers and the assessment put forward regarding Vatican II. Here are a few of Cardinal Burke’s comments.

The entire video of the interview may be found here: http://gloria.tv/media/v6WpZoaFx8t and is well worth viewing.

When asked if he embraced the “big changes” after the Council with enthusiasm, Cardinal Burke responded:

“What happened soon after the Council—I was in the minor seminary at that time, and we followed what was happening at the Council—but the experience after the Council was so strong and even in some cases violent, that I have to say that, even as a young man, I began to question some things—whether this was really what was intended by the Council—because I saw many beautiful things that were in the Church suddenly no longer present and even considered no longer beautiful. I think, for instance, of the great tradition of Gregorian Chant or the use of Latin in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Then also, of course, the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ influenced other areas—for instance, the moral life, the teaching of the Faith—and then we saw so many priests abandoning their priestly ministry, so many religious sisters abandoning religious life. So, there were definitely aspects about the post-conciliar period that raised questions.”

Noting that His Eminence was ordained a priest in 1975, the interviewer then asked him if thought that, at that time, something in the Church had gone wrong. Cardinal Burke answered:

“Yes, I believe so. In some way, we lost a strong sense of the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy and, therefore, of the priestly office and ministry in the Church. I have to say, I was so strongly raised in the Faith, and had such a strong understanding of vocation, that I never could refuse to do what Our Lord was asking. But I saw that there was something that had definitely gone wrong. I witnessed, for instance, as a young priest the emptiness of the catechesis. The catechetical texts were so poor. Then I witnessed the liturgical experimentations—some of which I just don’t even want to remember—the loss of the devotional life, the attendance at Sunday Mass began to steadily decrease: all of those were signs to me that something had gone wrong.”

Cardinal Burke had this to say when asked if, in 1975, he would ever have imagined being able to offer the Traditional Mass:

“No, I would not have imagined it. Although, I also have to say that I find it very normal, because it was such a beautiful rite, and that the Church recovered it seems to me to be a very healthy sign. But, at the time, I must say that the liturgical reform in particular was very radical and, as I said before, even violent, and so the thought of a restoration didn’t seem possible, really. But, thanks be to God, it happened.”

Regarding the two juridical “forms” of Holy Mass,1 His Eminence was asked about his concrete experience when offering a Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional and Novus Ordo rite. He answered:

“…I understand that they are the same rite, and I believe that, when the so-called New Rite or the Ordinary Form is celebrated with great care and with a strong sense that the Holy Liturgy is the action of God, one can see more clearly the unity of the two forms of the same rite. On the other hand, I do hope that—with time—some of the elements which unwisely were removed from the rite of the Mass which has now become the Ordinary Form could be restored, because the difference between the two forms is very stark… The rich articulation of the Extraordinary Form, all of which is always pointing to the theocentric nature of the liturgy, is practically diminished to the lowest possible degree in the Ordinary Form.”

Speaking about the Synod on the Family,2 the interviewer noted that it has been a shock and sometimes even a scandal, especially for young Catholic families who are the future of the Church. He then asked Cardinal Burke if these families have reason to worry. Cardinal Burke answered:

“Yes, they do. I think that the report that was given at the mid-point of the session of the Synod, which just ended 18 October, is perhaps one of the most shocking public documents of the Church that I could imagine. And, so, it is a cause for very serious alarm and it’s especially important that good Catholic families who are living the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony rededicate themselves to a sound married life and that also they use whatever occasions they have to give witness to the beauty of the truth about marriage which they are experiencing daily in their married life.”

Speaking about the ordinary Synod on the Family to take place in October 2015, the interviewer noted that many Catholics fear that, in the end, the Synod of Bishops will resort to doublespeak, using pastoral reasons to de facto change doctrine. Cardinal Burke was then asked if these fears are justified. He responded:

“Yes, they are. In fact, one of the most insidious arguments used at the Synod to promote practices which are contrary to the doctrine of the Faith is the argument that, ‘We are not touching the doctrine; we believe in marriage as the Church has always believed in it; but we are only making changes in discipline.’ But in the Catholic Church, this can never be, because in the Catholic Church, her discipline is always directly related to her teaching. In other words: the discipline is at the service of the truth of the Faith, of life in general in the Catholic Church. And so, you cannot say that you are changing a discipline not having some effect on the doctrine which it protects or safeguards or promotes.”

Speaking about the power and authority of the Pope, Cardinal Burke had this to say:

“The word of Christ is the truth to which we are all called to be obedient and, first and foremost, to which the Holy Father is called to be obedient. Sometime during the Synod, there was reference made to the fullness of the power of the Holy Father, which we call in Latin plenitudo potestatis, giving the sense that the Holy Father could even, for instance, dissolve a valid marriage that had been consummated. And that’s not true. The ‘fullness of power’ is not absolute power. It’s the ‘fullness of power’ to do what Christ commands of us in obedience to Him. So we all follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, beginning with the Holy Father.”

As was noted above, Cardinal Burke’s entire interview is more than worth the time to view. In addition, it would behoove all to keep the good Cardinal in our prayers that his faith may not waver in the days ahead.


1 It should be noted that the Synod on the Family has been divided into two parts. The first, the “extraordinary” synod took place last October. The “ordinary” synod, which will result in an official “Apostolic Exhortation” from the Holy Father, will take place in October 2015.

2 In his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which allowed every Latin Rite priest to offer the Traditional Mass without any permission from his bishop or superior, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of there being two “forms” of the Roman Rite: the ordinary form (the Novus Ordo Missae) and the extraordinary form (the Traditional Mass). He declared that both these forms are, for juridical purposes, equivalent.

Cardinal Tauran Appointed Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church

On Saturday, 20 December, Pope Francis appointed His Eminence, Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran as Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. The Cardinal was born on 5 April 1943 in Bordeaux, France. On 29 March 2014, he was confirmed as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue by Pope Francis, a post which he will continue to hold in addition to being Camerlengo. Cardinal Tauran replaces Cardinal Bertone (the former Cardinal Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI), who retired from the position having reached the age of 80 and no longer able to participate in a conclave to elect a new pope.

The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church is responsible for the formal determination of the death of the reigning Pope. After the Pope is declared dead, the Camerlengo destroys the “Ring of the Fisherman” of the deceased pontiff, an act which symbolically marks the end of his reign and prevents its use in forging documents. The Camerlengo then notifies the appropriate officers of the Roman Curia and the Dean of the College of Cardinals. He then manages the preparations for the Pope’s funeral and the conclave. Additionally, until the election of the new pope, the Camerlengo serves as the acting head of state of Vatican City, though the government of the Church is in the hands of the entire College of Cardinals. Unlike the rest of Roman Curia (with the exception of the Cardinal Major Penitentiary), the Camerlengo retains his office during the sede vacante.

The Vatican Visitation of the LCWR Orders

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI ordered an apostolic visitation of all the women’s religious orders in the United States. This was done in order to answer the many concerns being expressed that many of these orders had lost their way and had fallen into many practices which more resembled paganism rather than Catholicism. Of particular concern were those orders which were part of the national organization known as the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Woman Religious), whose yearly “conventions” often featured speakers of dubious orthodoxy, if not outrightly heretical. The LCWR represents the vast majority of orders of nuns in the United States, orders which are rapidly dying out for lack of vocations. Another national organization of women religious was founded by the superiors of orders who maintain a more traditional (read: Catholic) understanding. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) was begun in 1992 in response to the deviations from Catholicism taken by the LCWR and their member orders. Needless to say, the orders belonging to the CMSWR were not the focus of the apostolic visitation.

In December 2014, the Vatican issued the final report concerning the visitation and, sadly, the report seems to ignore or at least downplay the glaring problems known so well by Catholics in the United States. The entire report can be read here: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/12/16/0963/02078.html.

The most distressing part of all of this is the comparison of this report and the treatment of the LCWR orders with the “visitation” carried out by the Vatican of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate. These exemplary religious, with many young vocations, were singled out because, following Summorum Pontificum, they enthusiastically embraced the Traditional Mass and Breviary which gained for them the charge of being, in the words of the apostolic visitor, “crypto-Lefebvrians.” It appears that being a religious who is “pro-choice” or who celebrates the winter solstice (IHM Sisters, Monroe, Michigan—the advertisement for their Winter Solstice “celebration” has been removed from their website after it was publicized on a traditional blog) is just fine with the Vatican, but wanting to assist at the Traditional Mass is problematic.

It is also important to note that not all the religious in the various orders represented by the LCWR agree with what is going on (though they are a small minority). These sisters are indeed suffering a white martyrdom as they try to live the Catholic religious life (community prayer, common life and the religious habit) but are ridiculed and ostracized by their orders. Keep them in your prayers.

Vatican Philatelic Office Honors St. Pius X

While most curial officials and offices at the Vatican have had very little to say about the centenary of the death of St. Pius X, the Philatelic Office has noted the event by issuing a commemorative stamp which depicts the statue of the saint in St. Peter’s Basilica. The official description of the stamp and the centenary states, in part, the following:

“In 1907 he promulgated his encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, which challenged the doctrines of the modernists. Pope Pius X showed the same humility and great simplicity in living out Christian virtues also in the Vatican. It was said that one could sense his interior peace which could only come from a person placing his entire life in the hands of God.”

Although one can correctly note that Pascendi Dominici Gregis did much more than “challenge” modernism and those that held this “synthesis of all heresies,” at least mention was made of the encyclical which is infinitely more than was done by anyone else in the Vatican.

An image of the stamp and the full description can be found at the website of the Philatelic Office (http://www.vaticanstate.va/content/vaticanstate/en/servizi/ufficio-filatelico-e-numismatico/emissioni-filateliche/emissioni-filateliche—2014/centenario-della-morte-di-san-pio-x.html). All of the stamps issued by Vatican City since its inception can be viewed at this website as well.

The Vatican Philatelic Office came into existence as a result of the Lateran Treaty signed by the Holy See and the Italian government. This Treaty recognized Vatican City as a sovereign entity and on 1 June 1929, Vatican City was admitted to the Universal Postal Union and the Vatican Postal Service was created on 30 July of the same year and began operations two days later on 1 August.

Pope Francis, the United States, and Cuba

The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis was involved in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The pope wrote to both Barack Obama and Fidel Castro urging the leaders to resolve humanitarian questions and the status of certain prisoners and to enter into a new phase of relations between the two countries. While some applauded the pope’s initiative behind the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, many did not—particularly Cuban refugees and their families now living in the United States after fleeing the Castro communist regime in the early 1960s.

The Associated Press has reported that “the key role Pope Francis played encouraging talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro left fractures among his flock in South Florida, where many older Roman Catholics equate the Castro brothers with the devil.

“ ‘I’m still Catholic till the day I die,’ said Efrain Rivas, a 53-year-old maintenance man in Miami who was a political prisoner in Cuba for 16 years. ‘But I am a Catholic without a pope.’ Rivas said he cried when Obama surprisingly announced a reversal of a half-century’s efforts to isolate Cuba. Then, when he learned of Francis’s role, he got angry. ‘The Church is contaminated,’ said Miguel Saavedra, a 57-year-old Miami mechanic who leads an anti-Castro group and wears a gold cross as a sign of his Catholic faith. Exiles incensed by the diplomacy openly wonder: Was Francis strong-armed by President Barack Obama? Does he understand how terrible the Castro brothers are? Was he perhaps making a foolhardy bid to cement his change-making image? ‘I don’t know what the pope was thinking,’ said Jose Sanchez-Gronlier, a 53-year-old lawyer who said he was persecuted for his faith until leaving Cuba as a teenager, and will never forget watching the government seize a convent near his childhood home. ‘I see a certain naivete in the pope,’ he said. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida who has led the Republicans’ criticism of Obama’s executive actions on Cuba, also took a swipe at the pope, telling reporters in Washington that he would ‘ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy.’ Jay Fernandez, a retiree who left Cuba in 1961, said Francis acted like a beggar, taking whatever scraps of concessions the Cuban government offered.

“ ‘He wants to be everywhere, he wants to be liked by everyone,’ Fernandez said. ‘That’s his job to be a peace guy, but it doesn’t accomplish a damn thing, especially in Cuba.’ ” 1

1 Available: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CUBAN_AMERICAN_CATHOLICS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Blessing of the Crèche at the European Parliament Building

On 9 December 2014 Bishop Fellay traveled to Brussels in order to bless the crèche which was erected in the lobby of the European Parliament building at the invitation of Italian MEP Mario Borghezio. The Nativity scene was placed in the lobby at the initiative of Civitas Institute. The president of the French Civitas Institute, Alain Escada, stated that the baby Jesus in the manger should rule over all nations, since all power comes from God. He then quoted Pope St. Pius X: “Civilization must not be contrived, for it was, it is and it has been a Christian civilization, it is the Catholic society.  To restore it merely requires the unceasing renewal of its  natural and divine principles.”

For his part, Bishop Fellay reiterated the importance of the social reign of Jesus Christ. His Excellency stated: “That’s where it all started, in the crib. It is therefore natural that European leaders pay homage to the God who comes among men to save them, He who is the King of Kings. We must remember what Cardinal Pie said to Napoleon III: ‘If the time has not yet come for Christ to reign, then the time has not yet come for governments to last.’”