The Pope Didn’t Exile Cardinal Burke. The Pope Gave Him An Army. [Photos]


I wish someone would exile me the way Pope Francis exiled Cardinal Burke.

When I think of exile or banishment, I think of tiny islands.

Flight from Orlando to Philadelphia.

Where friends are few and far between.


The Associated Press described Cardinal Burke’s new position as “largely ceremonial” and said the Knights of Malta are a “charity” who provide “residences for the elderly.”


Oh, really?

Because last time I checked, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (their full name) was the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry boasting over 13,000 members (knights and dames), 80,000 permanent volunteers and 20,000 personnel.


The Knights of Malta became a military order in 1099 during the First Crusade that conquered Jerusalem.


They kept themselves busy for the next Four Hundred Years by conquering islands, protecting Christian pilgrims and fighting Muslims.


Then in 1517 they helped turn back the Ottomon Empire in the Battle of Lepanto. It was kind of a big deal.


The modern day Knights of Malta are present in over 120 countries. They have bilateral and official diplomatic relations with over half of the world.


The Order now also includes Dames of Malta, seen here preparing for battle in line outside the Vatican.


Cardinal Burke has said he will be traveling to meet with Knights and Dames of Malta all over the world, maybe in one of their planes.

That’s right, planes.


When he gets to his destination, maybe he will use one of these Sovereign Military Order of Malta passports.


You know who else has to carry multiple passports?

Secret agents.


Undercover operatives.


International men of the liturgical counter-revolution!

Vatican Pope

As Cardinal Burke explains, the Knights of Malta have two primary missions (that we know about): the defense of the faith (defensio fidei) and the care for the poor (obsequium pauperum).


Pretty awesome, right? And we’re just getting started.

Every year the Knights of Malta bring thousands of malades (the sick and infirm) on pilgrimage to Lourdes, France for a week. They gather in the Basilica of St. Pius XII, which looks like this from above on Google Maps.


But underground it holds 25,000 knights, dames, pilgrims and malades.


Cardinal Burke will be serving as Patron of the Order, an office where he serves as the representative of the pope to the prince of the sovereign military order, Fra. Matthew Festing, the 79th head of the order.

Here is Cardinal Burke leading a procession in Lourdes.


Oh wait, that’s a bad angle.


There. That’s better. The unofficial motto of the Knights of Malta is “Go big or go home”.

Cardinal Burke says he is optimistic for the future and is looking forward to his new assignment.

I would be too if the pope had just given me an army!

Newly Appointed Cardinals Portrait Session


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About Author


Thomas Peters, 33, grew up in Southern California and attended college in Michigan. He has two graduate degrees in theology. He began his award-winning American Papist blog in 2006, which went on to become one of the most popular Catholic blogs in America. He was one of a handful of Americans invited to the Vatican’s first-ever Bloggers’ Meeting in Rome. Peters has appeared in dozens of TV, radio and online media outlets over the years discussing the intersection of Catholicism and political activism, debating topics related to life, family and religious freedom, in addition to writing and speaking about the future of social media and online organizing. From 2010-2016 he served as an advisor to He and his wife Natalie live in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @AmericanPapist.

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