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.

108 thoughts on “Reality check: Burke’s star will shine on

  1. Catholic Dad says:

    I am surprised to learn that CatholicVote is such an editorial haven for those who characterize themselves (commenter’s words, not mine) the Catholic Left. Not sure what the Catholic Left is. I deplore faithlessness on both the right and the left…and it abounds on both sides…the self-righteous comments of those on the Catholic Left are amusing in their vapid, self-service and pure speculation…not to mention the sheer conceit of presenting opinions as facts. But then I suppose both sides can be guilty of that. I am reminded of an exhortation by a priest frien who chided me that it is as easy to fall out of the boat on the right side as it is the left. That said, I hardly blame the so-called “conservative” clerics for the rampant homosexual infiltration of the Church immediately following VII, nor do I blame them for the imaginative and innovative lengths to which media and liberal clerics went to twist and torture the actual products of VII. There should be no distinctions between conservative and liberal in the Church, but alas, there is. My observations, however, indicate that heresy and heterodoxy come far more abundantly from the left than the right. Sad…pray for all in the Church and pray for the communion of all of us to His Truth, from wherever we come. Thank you…mGrby

    1. Well, two things. If you’re curious about what I am, you can ask directly. I don’t think CatholicVote links websites, but I’m not hard to find.

      I will say that Tom and I have crossed swords, so to speak, in the past, but I’ve been following his recovery with prayers and best wishes. When I noticed he was writing again, I admit I was thrilled, despite our ideological differences. I believe him to be a sincere man of God and a good Catholic. Though perhaps misguided politically.

      Paraphrasing a friend, good Catholics I know do what is right, no matter what they are told. Too many Catholics of all stripes do what they are told, no matter what is right.

  2. Caspar says:

    Conservatism is not synonymous with orthodoxy. Orthodoxy transcends both liberalism and conservatism, judging both and correcting both.

  3. Catholic facing east says:

    I see a silver lining but not a side lining. Interesting how this dovetails with what’s happening in the upper room. Cardinal Burke’s lamp is well lit!

  4. James says:

    Catholic Vote continues to be a huge disappointment. Party line heralding and not much reality. No talk about the Franciscan Friars, and no talk about the devastating news of the promotion of Cardinal Wuerl. I pray that Cardinal Burke keeps getting kicked to the outside so that people can wake up and see the tide fast approaching. We are called to be honest, not to feed untruths to the faithful. We are big kids, we can handle the fact that conservatism is on the way out–along with black and white doctrine.

  5. Todd Flowerday says:

    Yes, Tom, definitely good to see you back writing. Keep up the effort.

    Speaking from the Catholic Left, I just want to see competence restored to the American episcopacy. I’m fine with conservative bishops, as long as they have appropriate experience as pastors, preferably 20-30 years.

    The problem with the Congregation of Bishops is that they’ve abandoned the hallmarks of the ministry of bishop in search for allies in the culturewar. The Church doesn’t fight enemies. We convert them.

    The problem with Cardinal Burke is his worldview. The man has been a disaster in his two US dioceses, spreading discord and enmity. That’s fine for a media personality or a teenager. Not a bishop.

  6. MichaelJoseph says:

    It appears the Holy Spirit is working through P Francis as the Pope appears to be freeing up a considerable amount of the Arbsp’s time to allow him to do what he was ordained to do Pastoral work! P Francis is correct in his move to make church administration more efficient- which I hope translates into less bureaucracy.
    Church reform inspired by the Holy Spirit at Vatican Council II & thwarted by conservative bureaucratic clerics is now free to be implemented- may God’s Will be done… finally.
    If the conservatives who led Holy Mother Church had it correct why is the Church is such chaos and disrepair? Why was Vatican Council II needed? Why is a Reformer Pope elected? Why have MILLIONS voted against the corrupt conservative hierarchy (yes, some are in JAIL or being prosecuted for criminal, Sinful behavior) by leaving the church and bringing their money with them?
    P Francis will Reform & Rebuild the Church or, in 100 yrs or less, there will be no Church other than a mere shadow of its former self!
    P Francis is pointing out the Sins of the clerics that have been judged by the world & imprisoned for their crimes at a rate not previously known. Conservatives have brought ruination upon God’s house. P Francis is our greatest hope.

    1. Pat says:

      The corruptions of which you decry … these having come by way of UnFaithful/Perhaps-Liberal Catholic Bishops and Priests … and since we not having Faithful/Perhaps-Conservative Catholic Bishops in charge of our country’s USCCB for years now … IMO … so … what the heck do you think you are saying … ? …

      A sin is a sin is a sin … and those who committing them, if they who committing the sins having Faith, then they at least knowing and Believing their action to be a sin and likely they will be repenting of same … and if they who committing the sin Not having Faith, then they will likely Not be accepting that they themselves and their actions to be sinful and they likely will Not be repenting of same …

      And Conservative or Liberal or Left or Right having little to do with being a weak or willful sinner or with having Faith or Not having Faith.

      Your statements of blame against conservatives seem quite blind to the real events or the the real nature of the problems … as I seeing it.

      GOD Bless you and us all.

    2. Jacqueline Y. says:

      Blaming everything on “the corrupt conservative hierarchy” misrepresents reality. Cardinal Law was somewhat conservative, but Mahony was not. And then there was a certain disgraced former archbishop of Milwaukee, who once opined that pro-livers needed “an enema and a hug”. Shallow and biased ideology, whether on the left or the right, misses point.

      1. Jacqueline Y. says:

        I meant *pro-lifers*, of course.

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