Reality check: Burke’s star will shine on

The knives are out for Cardinal Burke this morning. He’s on the next plane out of Rome after Pope Francis sacked him and summarily ended all of his duties this morning.

Oh wait, that’s not what happened. Actually, Pope Francis simply chose not to renew his membership on the Congregation for Bishops, the body that helps select bishops for the United States and around the world. Still, this was enough for noted Burke-haters here in America to proclaim this is the end of Burke’s episcopal career.

Even the normally sober-minded John Allen cited this recent EWTN interview given by Cardinal Burke on “The World Over” where the cardinal said “we can never talk enough about the defense of human life” as some sort of example that Pope Francis wants to move away from the Cardinal’s “aggressive line” on the culture wars — please! As if Pope Francis has nothing better to do than monitor what gets said on EWTN every night.

Let me pour some cold water on this hyperventilating speculation.

First, Pope Francis has not hid his intention of making the curia more efficient. He appointed Cardinal Wuerl as a new addition to the Congregation for Bishops, someone whom Pope Benedict had already placed trust in when he appointed Cardinal Wuerl as the U.S. guardian of the Anglican Ordinariate. If you asked me to pick who has a better working knowledge of the makeup, demands and expectations of the American episcopate right now I would say the state-side Cardinal Wuerl, not Cardinal Burke who has been in Rome for half a decade at this point. So from one aspect, this is a move towards efficiency.


And poor Cardinal Burke, after today’s move, he will have so little to occupy himself. In addition to being the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, a member of the College of Cardinals, a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, a member of the Congregation for Clergy, a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and President of the Commission for Advocates, and a frequent speaker to select Catholic causes and organizations, I’m not sure what he’ll be doing with all of this new free time.

Back to the anti-Burke speculation: the real reason some are trying to make a big deal of this news is because a) they are trying to create the perception that there is a rift between Pope Francis and conservatives, and b) because they hope Burke’s absence from the congregation will yield more liberal episcopal appointments here in America.

Let me pour more cold water on both of these futile hopes.

There is absolutely no sign the Congregation for Bishops is about to reverse the 70 or 80 streak of conservative Episcopal appointments to U.S. dioceses we witnessed under the reign of Pope Benedict.  This massive swell of young conservative bishops is already having a huge impact on the Catholic Church in America.

It was these bishops who upset precedent and elected Cardinal Dolan over Bishop Kicanas for USCCB President, and just elected Archbishop Kurtz.

If we want to see anything significant in today’s news, it should be that Pope Francis confirmed Cardinal Marc Oullet as the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops! A more conservative Cardinal you couldn’t ask for.

If liberal Vatican-watchers want to read tea leaves, they should wake up and smell what’s brewing!

And as for this false meme that Pope Francis doesn’t like conservatives, well, the pope’s interview with La Stampa just poured more cold water on that than I could ever hope to.

So let nothing you dismay. Cardinal Burke’s star will shine on in the Eternal City for another 10 years at least. American liberal Catholics should go take a cold bath. Orthodoxy is here to stay.


Categories:American Papist Church News Pope Francis Vatican

  • Thomas Mootz

    BS.No other way to express the fodder you are engaged in…
    I will pray for you.

  • Richard G Evans

    PLEASE NOTE BEFORE POSTING–AGAIN I RE-WROTE THIS AND CORRECTED A FEW TYPOS, ETC so if not too late please use this copy, not the first 2!!! Many thanks. HERE GOES: I think that Cardinal Burke has indeed at times appeared somewhat rigid on certain issues, but he is also a canon lawyer and extremely well-versed in that area of Church discipline to say the least. I would also add that, as a celibate Catholic Christian with same-sex attraction, I do believe that the Church needs to not just welcome “on paper” those in my situation, whether celibate or not, and to do so in a way that goes beyond the letter of the law, and has not always been as apt in doing this as I personally would wish. Having said that however, my own contacts with then-Archbishop Burke, Charles Chaput of Philadephia, and our own MN Archbishop Nienstedt, all cause me to strongly believe that each of these are men of integrity who are anything but cold and unfeeling, or, as the previous commenter suggests, “out of touch” on this or other issues. All of them have treated me with complete respect, as did you, Thomas Peters, when I first shared this struggle with you and them a few years ago, and even when I briefly went back out of the fold of Roman Catholicism thinking that I could no longer face that struggle too. Nienstedt for one, who is over 800,000 Catholics here in MN, personally wrote to me 3 separate times and then welcomed me back home yet again when I re-returned after a rather rough patch in my journey. How many hugely busy civic or world leaders would do that? To me that says far more about a person than their “traditionalism” or lack thereof. I think someone’s demeanor or style in sharing their views can be a very misleading way of showing what is inside them. Just like Pope Francis has a very different personality than Cardinal Burke, so do I from certain others who view life from a different set of lenses than me. To my thinking that is a good thing, not a negative. But in any case that is not at issue here, nor should it be. The issue is that, as Thomas Peters has rightly said, Burke will still be very powerful and have much to do that will and does highly influence the Church at large. And while he and Wuerl may disagree on who should or should not be admitted to Holy Communion and under what circumstances, and they do seem to have a different pastoral approach to this issue, both men are loyal and committed children of the Church and very orthodox. Peters is right as usual, and eerily beyond his years constantly in his assessments. And he too has been accused of hating those from my background on more than one occasion–and I know that too is a lie because he was one who welcomed me back before almost anyone else. So with that I say welcome back to the blogosphere Thomas Peters!!! You have my forever respect and always will, as well as my prayers.

  • Steve Downstate

    Agree completely with what Todd StL said — except that I’ll concede that Burke may have compassion in his heart, but he manages to keep it pretty nicely hidden. I’m sure he loves God and God loves him, etc. However, he made very little effort to reach out to everyday Catholics in St. Louis, much less those of other faith traditions. He had a well-earned reputation for being a cold fish who huddled among his own and would not even grant interviews to local journalists or TV reporters. Most people in the area saw him as aloof, judgmental, and consumed with expensive vestments. There are so many ways he could have reached out in St. Louis — but he didn’t seem at all interested.

  • Joe

    This was a refreshing read. If only the liberals would stop wasting time pretending that this is a liberal/revolutionary papacy and see him as a true Vicar of Christ, the world would heal more quickly.

  • abitreckless

    Cardinal Burke is my HERO! He walks the walk, but yet has a gentle presentation of his tough love.
    My bishop is retiring, and I hope he is replaced by someone like Cardinal Burke, as we need a strong leader to counter Gov. Cuomo’s abortion expansion agenda.

  • ToddSTL

    I disagreebon one point, Mr. Peters. People are happy to see any instance where burke is removed from power, *not only* because of his conservative stance, but because he is out of touch with the congregation of the faithful; he is far more interested in money and political power. He has done unimaginable damage to the cause of the Church through driving away Catholics in droves rather than leading people to and welcoming them among the flock. I was elated to see him leaving St. Louis. It will take decades to repair the damage he did, if it can ever be repaired. While he is obviously a golden boy based on his accolades and appointments, he has no understanding of the common man, no warmth, no compassion, and makes no attempt at reconciliation.

    • HenrySTL

      If anyone lacks understanding of the common man, has no warmth, no compassion, and makes no attempt at reconciliation, it’s you ToddSTL. For those out of the know, modernist “catholics” in STL hold a grudge against his eminence because he told pro-abortion politicians to refrain from the most holy Eucharist, broke off with Cardinal Glennon because they hired ultra leftist Sheryl Crow to fundraise, excommunicated the dissident catholics of a local parish polish parish (a church that is now run by a nutty, dissadent defrocked priest), and he established a TLM community in STL.One thing is clear by the vitriol of people like ToddSTL, that they lack compassion for the unborn, the sacred liturgy, souls of the faithful, and love of Jesus in the holy Eucharist. They seem to only desire worldly love and acceptation. Thus the character of heroes like Cardinal Burke must be destroyed at all cost.

    • tammy

      Amen! American Bishops are strangely quiet on matters they should speak out against. Good Priests who stand up for those of us still in the pews are persecuted and exiled!

    • Didymus

      Unimaginable damage? Really?



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