27 June 2008

Goodbye, St. Louis: Holy Father Tabs Archbishop Burke as Prefect of Apostolic Signatura

Today brings the confirmation of the long-rumored appointment of Archbishop Burke to be the head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. From the Vatican website:


Il Santo Padre ha nominato Prefetto del Supremo Tribunale della Segnatura Apostolica S.E. Mons. Raymond Leo Burke, finora Arcivescovo di Saint Louis.

This position ordinarily carries a promotion to Cardinal as well, which is of some solace to those His Grace leaves behind in St. Louis.

It is certainly a bittersweet announcement for those in St. Louis and around the world who have rejoiced in the Archbishop's stalwart defense of orthodoxy, his courage, his perseverance, and his wise and faithful pastoral care. He has been a shining example of how a Bishop should guide and govern.

Of course, this promotion will almost certainly obtain for him the Cardinal's red hat, and thus a seat at any conclave that may occur for the next twenty years. His Grace turns 60 at the end of the month. May it be in the plans of Almighty God that someday Cardinal Burke appears on the balcony in St. Peter's Square; whatever may come for him, however, we can be assured that His Grace will fulfill his duties with the same zeal he has shown in St. Louis and in the past.

I ran a post last November naming Archbishop Burke the"Saint Louis Catholic of the Year 2007". The obvious choice for an award created as a tongue-in-cheek exercise (as in, who cares who a blog thinks is Catholic of the Year), but which I intend now to make an annual award, named after him. That post, linked above, listed many of the reasons we can be thankful of his leadership in St. Louis. Since that time, the steadfast leadership he has exercised with regard to the local dissident crowd provides the pattern for the future Archbishops of this Archdiocese and Bishops around the world Time will tell if any will pick up the banner and advance.

A word of warning-- brace yourself for the unrestrained glee of the so-called progressive crowd who will not be able to contain themselves. The press will interview every disaffected self-described "Catholic" who ever sought out a guitar Mass. They will say this is a repudiation of the just discipline he has dealt to schismatics. That it is a repudiation of his position that Canon 915 requires that pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians must be denied Holy Communion. That it is a way to get him out of the way.

Do not fret. God alone suffices, and we can trust His Son to send us another shepherd of souls after His Heart-- which, by the way, is Archbishop Burke's episcopal motto: Secundum Cor Tuum, or After Your Heart.

I can think of no better way to spend the coming weeks than in offering up Masses, Communions, Rosaries, Novenas and other prayers and sacrifices for the Archbishop, this Archdiocese, and for His Grace's successor yet to be named.

Edmund Burke, the English statesman, has been attributed as the author of the maxim, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing." Archbishop Burke did something. Does something. And God willing, will continue to do something-- for the triumph of Christ's Church over her enemies and for the salvation of souls.

For a little background information not contained above about the already outstanding episcopal career of this good Bishop, the following is taken fromhis Wikipedia entry:

He served as the Bishop of La Crosse until December 2, 2003, when he was named as successor to Justin Rigali, who had been appointed to be the Archbishop of Philadelphia. He was formally installed on January 26, 2004. Not long thereafter, Burke was presented with the pallium on June 29, 2004 by Pope John Paul II. In St. Louis, Burke has given particular emphasis to the promotion of vocations to the ministerial priesthood; he also publishes a column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper, the Saint Louis Review. In both La Crosse and St. Louis, Burke has established oratories for those who attend the Tridentine Rite. He has invited traditionalist Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest into his dioceses and has ordained priests for the group. His ordination of two traditionalist priests on June 15, 2007, was the first time in 40 years that the Tridentine rite of ordination had been used in the cathedral. In July 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke to be a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court in the Catholic Church. He issued a statement, in line with Catholic moral precepts, opposing embryonic stem cell research when an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that allows it was narrowly passed by voters there.

On June 25, 2007, Burke accompanied Seán Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, on a trip to Rome, where the prelates reviewed Pope Benedict's impending motu proprio Summorum Pontificum granting greater freedom for the use of the Tridentine Rite.

When he was still bishop of La Crosse, Burke initiated a plan to construct a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. The spacious church, designed in the Renaissance style, is due for completion by July 31, 2008. The archbishop has also installed a prominent shrine to the Sacred Heart in the diocesan cathedral. Both projects represent his desire to foster the sacred arts and to encourage spiritual devotions which have long been characteristic of Catholicism.

On May 6, 2008 Pope Benedict XVI named Burke to two Vatican offices, increasing Burke's already prominent stature in Rome.

Burke was named to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon, or church, law and also assigned to the Congregation for the Clergy, which regulates the formation and training of diocesan priests and deacons.

The Congregation for the Clergy is one of nine congregations in the Roman Curia, as the church government is known. The Council for Legislative Texts is one of 11 pontifical councils in the Curia.


Burke is seen by some as one of the more controversial bishops in the United States. Among the reasons are his position regarding the political actions of Catholics who hold public office, and his disputes with St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Saint Louis.

2004 Presidential Election

During the 2004 presidential election, Burke publicly stated that John Kerry and other Catholic politicians who vote pro-choice should not receive the Eucharist. This statement was based mainly on two canons of Catholic Canon Law, which state that ministers of Holy Communion should not administer the Eucharist to people who obstinately and publicly persist in some serious sin and that those who are conscious of being in a state of grave sin (as determined by Catholic doctrine) should not receive the Eucharist. Burke had articulated the same position while he was in La Crosse but the statements made as Archbishop of St. Louis gained more notice and added to his controversial reputation. He is one of a small number of bishops who have declared that they would refuse Communion to such politicians.

He also stated that Catholic voters who supported pro-choice candidates specifically because they supported abortion rights were committing grave sin and shouldn't receive Communion without first having their sin absolved through the Sacrament of Penance. Later, Burke clarified his position to state that one could vote for a pro-choice politician and not commit a mortal sin, if one believed there was a more significant moral issue than abortion at hand, but had also stated that he could not think what sort of issue would qualify.

Sheryl Crow concert

On April 25, 2007, after singer Sheryl Crow, a pro-choice supporter, was scheduled to perform at a benefit concert for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Archbishop Burke resigned as chair of the hospital foundation's board of directors.

Deeming this a scandal, Burke claimed that to have the hospital host Crow would give "the impression that the Church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching." The Saint Louis archbishop reportedly asked that her invitation be privately removed, but then felt compelled to submit his resignation when Crow's performance at the concert was confirmed.

St. Louis University faculty

On January 22, 2008, Archbishop Burke urged St. Louis University to take disciplinary action against its head basketball coach, Rick Majerus, after Majerus publicly supported the rights of abortion and stem cell research at a campaign event for SenatorHillary Rodham Clinton three days earlier.

With St. Louis University being run by the Society of Jesus, Burke responded by saying, "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic Church." St. Louis spokesman Jeff Fowler responded to Burke's statement thus: "Rick's comments were his own personal view. They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative".

Burke again responded to the controversy aroused by his statements in an interview with the archdiocesan newspaper, The St. Louis Review, on the following February 1. The Archbishop said, "It gives scandal to other people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, if they hear a Catholic give an interview to the media, saying that I am proud to be a Catholic but at the same time I hold these views." When asked about his usually outspoken manner in controversial issues, he responded, "Is there something unusual about a bishop saying that it’s wrong to be in favor of procured abortion? I’m a Roman Catholic priest and bishop. What else would you expect me to say?"


Finally, as in any sudden appointment, Archbishop Burke leaves behind some matters that are not yet concluded. The most obvious is the final denouement of the Marek Bozek fiasco, not as firmly concluded as the canonical process involving Sister Lears. The restoration of the reredos at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which had been dismantled only to serve as a constituent part of the cathedra and which was rumored to be on the agenda, hopefully will move forward. The expansion project of the seminary has yet to be completed. The spread of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite of Mass, called for by Summorum Pontificum and urged by the Holy Father, requires that priests and seminarians continue to be trained in its celebration, and that the Mass of the Ages be allowed to flourish without hindrance.

In other words, we pray most fervently that the next Archbishop will continue the bold and successful effort to promote Catholic tradition in this Archdiocese in the liturgy, in the pulpit, and in the classroom.

God bless you, Archbishop Burke. And thank you.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful gift for the universal Church but how sad--a selfishly human response, of course--for St. Louis. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Almost from the beginning we knew that this day would come, yet deep in our hearts we hoped we were wrong.

Pray that the Holy Ghost will fill void of Archbishop Burke's absence by sending us an equally strong spiritual Father.

Mark S.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am COMPLETELY selfish and wish that he could stay in St. Louis! Timman, I had a feeling this was what your countdown was heading towards! :(

Does anyone know how long it will take to get another Bishop to take his place?

Anonymous said...

I am mourning his loss already!! I hope the Lord gives us someone who loves tradition as our new Bishop...how about Bishop Finn from KC? We are working on getting a Latin Mass said in our parish-please pray for our success, please everyone!!


Mark S. Abeln said...

KMOX has just given you credit for breaking the story.

Anonymous said...

I would like to express my sadness for those of you in St. Louis at losing such a wonderful Archbishop. As a fellow Catholic American, I am saddened to see him leaving our shores as well. He has been a source of inspiration to many of us who never had the priviledge of being directly shepharded by him, but every time he made it into the news, it was a source of inspiration to see how strong and true he is. I trust Pope Benedict's decisions and feel sure that Archbishop Burke will continue to be a strong voice for the Church. I pray that God will give them both long life and continued strength to do His will. We need such strong shephards. And I pray you get the Latin Mass, Maureen. May God bless us all with good Priests and Bishops.

thetimman said...

Mark, thanks-- I just heard that and noted it in my post above. I jump to conclusions sometimes-- a failing I try to work on.

Marianne said...

I write from Sri Lanka and it is amazing that I too feel saddened at such a loss to America but God has a mighty plan for this faithful servant. I will pray for him too as I do for all the priests around the world. May he remain steadfast as he has been, especially in the Vatican, when he would meet with all sorts of opposition. Enemies of God visit all sites!
God bless America

Principium Unitatis said...

Archbishop Burke has been a great blessing here in St. Louis. Just consider how much he has developed the seminary and the seminarians. In that way we will benefit from his time here for many years to come. His departure is a great loss for us; may it be a much greater gain for the Catholic Church. And may God bring us a worthy shepherd.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

I am one of the catholics who, as a teenager, 'sought out a guitar Mass' and thoroughly enjoyed making glorious music for the Lord. I also enjoy hearing the Latin Mass - they are not exclusive desires. And I am one of Sr. Louise Lears' biological sisters who has been quietly following the blogs from my home in Baltimore, reluctant to comment lest it backfire in some way. Now that my sister has received her 'just' penalties and will be returning to her loving family in Baltimore, I want to speak.

No one has to brace themselves for my reactions even though I may be perceived as part of the 'progressive crowd,' because I do not feel 'unrestrained glee' about Archbishop Burke's move to Rome nor do I feel the least bit happy about my sister's disposition. I feel only sadness.

I thought we all belonged to a Catholic family where people could get to know each other, talk about their differences or at least listen to both sides of the story before being judged. That has not happened in the case of my sister. Louise was labeled 'irreformable' by the Archdiocese before anyone even talked to her and many inaccurate statements have been reported in the blogs.

I am not going to rehash all of the details of this incident with Louise, but I will say that my idea of 'a shining example of how a Bishop should guide and govern' would be one who listens to a person before judging.
Kate Lears

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Burke is a wonderful and faithful Shepherd. He is always willing to take on the hard tasks and be responsible to our Lord in all he says and does. Yet he always does it in charity. The Universal Church is blessed with this announcement but his archdioce will be sad although I am sure overjoyed for God is using their Archbishop. I am in Pitsburgh and I will truly miss him.

Anonymous said...

If there is to be an American Pope, which to be honest, I would not want since most bishops in America seem to love the state more than the Church---but if there was an American Pope, Please God let it be Archbishop Burke.

doughboy said...

Thank you, Your Grace, for your leadership and example of humility, generosity, and integrity!

I hope he has some say as to who will be considered as his replacement. Could we be so blessed to have another like-minded Shepherd? It hardly seems possible, but all things *are* possible with the Holy Spirit.

A sad day for St. Louis but a wonderful blessing for the Church Universal as His Grace moves onward & upward for Christ.

Anonymous said...

It is not selfish to grieve a loss, even knowing that the loss is for a greater good. I grieve the loss of this good shepherd. His faithfulness to the wishes of the Holy Father and his stalwart defense of all that it means to be truly Catholic have been a shining example to all of us. He has truly cared for us, and his nurturing of the Traditional Latin Mass community has endeared him to our hearts. I thank God for him and I pray that God bless him in his new duties. I also pray for us that God send us another good shepherd.
Cherie G.

Anonymous said...

I was informed that it could take up to 9 months to have a new shepherd in our Dioceses. That gives us plenty of time to PRAY HARD!

God Bless you Archbishop Burke, while you'll be missed in St. Louis, you'll still be serving our Church here on Earth!

Anonymous said...

I am sad that we will no longer have any personal contact with our Archbishop Raymond Burke. I will always remember the times that I have been fortunate enough to have spoken to him and the kindness he has shown me, my husband and children.

He is a down-to-earth person who treats everyone with love and respect, just as Jesus would. He is a true shepherd. I pray that he will someday be the successor to Pope Benedict XVI!

Anonymous said...

Great sadness for me, so it seems the best and most courageous American Archbishop is buried alive in a Curial office, hearing annulment appeals, and such disputations. As mentioned above, " -- brace yourself for the unrestrained glee of the so-called progressive crowd who will not be able to contain themselves." Certainly so, although that gleefulness be kept hidden. We will no longer have his example to other American Bishops. This belongs in the handbook of How to Silence Troublesome Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

He shall surely be missed. His courage, in these troubled times, is so needed. We still have the right to free speech and it should be used to speak out against evil. The Archbishop never failed to do so. May Christ multiply the St. John's in these last days. Thanks to the Holy Father for his outstanding courage also. Truly he has strengthened his brothers as Jesus commanded. Prayers to all...
In Christ and His Immaculate Mother.

Anonymous said...

A great canonist! He will now be an asset to the Universal Church!

Next Abp of St Louis ... hmm...

A Bp with a Polish last name could help in the St Stan mess. From up north: Listecki and Paprocki (2 Chicago-area Bps.)

And ... it would be a final blessing to Card Ritter's work in St Louis to have a black Abp -- Archbishop Terry Steib?

Or someone from across the river?

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Archbishop Burke, for leading us to heaven.

I can honestly say if it had not been for you I would not be back in the Church. You not only brought a beautiful Institute into my life (ICKSP), but you have enabled me to be surrounded by good, holy priests and other faithful friends. My child was fortunate enough to have received the sacrament of confirmation from you as well.

We will continue to pray for you and for your successor.

Ralph said...

Sometimes it takes real courage to defend the faith. that is an important issue today with so many wavering. Some Bishops are great at it, others are not.

thetimman said...

K. Lears,

I just wanted to let you know that I took so long to post your comment because I thought it merited a thoughtful response, and today has been so crazy for me that I have been unable to do much except monitor events.

I don't yet have time to respond, but I didn't want you to think that I wouldn't post your comment. I will respond soon, hopefully tomorrow.

In short, I support the Archbishop's actions regarding your sister, but I completely understand how a loving sister's feelings would be implicated. I also have on previous posts/comments, noted that I believe that Sr. Lears comported herself much better in this process than the likes of Bozek and his camp. Yet the faith is larger than any of us, and Truth is a Person. We owe him our allegiance, and it matters what positions we advance.

I will respond with specifics later. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry, but this is very disappointing. Why? Because we needed him to shake up another one of the American archdioceses the way he shook up St. Louis!

Cardinal Egan should have been made Prefect of the Signatura, and Burke should have succeeded him at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Imagine Burke’s patient faith and adherence to tradition, plus his media savvy, in the media capital of the world!

Or, imagine him undoing the mess in Los Angeles!

And now — poof! I’m sorry, but this was a missed opportunity.

Joseph Fromm said...

Can you say, "Archbishop Robert Finn?"

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Being in Los Angeles, I was hoping that he'd come out here to clean this mess up. I feel the loss here. May God grant you the good ppl in St. Louis a great Shepard n the mold of Abp. Burke.

Athelstane said...

Hello Tim,

I just heard - stcuk in Europe right now.

Congrats on breaking the story, and condolences on losing arguably the best bishop in the country. St. Louis's loss is the Vatican's gain, however. Likewise the College of Cardinals.

We pray for his grace's success in his new position just as much as for a worthy successor in St. Louis. He will have very big shoes to fill.

- Richard

NorthNone said...

We are losing a wonderful, pastoral archbishop unafraid to teach and uphold the Catholic faith here in Saint Louis. All that the dear man has endured here reminds me of the following quote:
"The brothers of the patriarch Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred" Saint Thomas More
P.S. Archbishop Finn !!!!! YES :-)

StGuyFawkes said...

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, may he live 100 years. In his Italian studies he will soon learn an adjective and hear it applied often to him: "papabile".

A possible Pope.

God Bless him.

Anonymous said...

So sad. First Rigali. Then Burke. The next one is likely to be even colder and more removed from the lives of everyday people in St. Louis than his predecessors. Let's hope we get, by some strange chance, an archbishop who is less consumed with rules and pageantry. Not likely, but let's hope. (Anyone remember Archbishop May? The fellow who valued building bridges in the community rather than furthering divisions? May he rest in peace.)

thetimman said...

Last anon-- your comment betrays the fact that you don't understand the essential role of a Bishop in guiding the flock with care and with truth-- these things are not opposed. If someone sees you about to drive off a cliff and asks you to turn around, and even orders you to turn around, you might think that were pretty "cold" until you realized what the reality of the situation really is.

It is a poor friend who "builds bridges" that lead off of that cliff.

Anonymous said...

Tinmman, are you suggesting that Archbishop May helped to lead people off a cliff? Was he not your favorite kind of archbishop? Is there any specific cliff you have in mind? (By the way, May did guide his flock "with care and with truth.")

StGuyFawkes said...

To the last anon.

Nobody could be more interested in pastels and pagentry than the liturgists at St. Cronan's. Vespers by candlelight in the rain. Pink Code banners in Soulard. Gay Pride colors and demonstrations.

Now that's vain pagentry.

And St. Stan's. An Archdiocesan crisis so these guys can dress up like 19th Century Slavs and have "Polka Masses". You wanna talk about "pagentry"? Ever look at their silly website?

And if you want, drive over to 2020 Washington sometime and take a look at Fr. Bozek's condo building. You want to talk about vain pomp? There you have it.

Anonymous said...

And Archbishop Burke isn't living in a MANSION?

thetimman said...

Anon, perhaps, but he rents it-- he doesn't own it.