Bishop Hermann: 'I thought you should know'
On Archbishop Burke’s love for Christ’s Church
by Bishop Robert J. Hermann, Archdiocesan Administrator
I am hoping that this column will be short-lived and that we will have a new archbishop in a timely fashion. In this weekly column, I wish to reflect briefly on issues significant to you and to our archdiocese.
Looking back, I am so grateful for the leadership of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke. While I could focus on the phenomenal influence he has had on our priests and seminarians, in this column I wish to focus briefly on his great love for the Church and his commitment to teach the timeless truths of the Catholic faith, whether or not it was popular.
On the night before He died, Christ prayed to the Father: "Consecrate them in the truth. Your Word is truth." (John 17:17). Archbishop Burke has committed his life to witnessing to the truth of God’s Word as it has been proclaimed by the Catholic Church from the very beginning. He knew very well that this would cause him much suffering, but Archbishop Burke’s love for Christ and His Church made it very clear to him that he had no choice.
In the 21st chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus talked about the coming persecution, he said: "It will lead to your giving testimony." Whether it was witnessing to life issues or to Catholic identity, Archbishop Burke never flinched from standing up for the truth. He knew very well that many times he would be perceived as not being politically correct. Yet, he did it, and he did it out of love for Christ and His Church.
A few well-meaning Catholics are simply embarrassed by some of the teachings of the Catholic Church because when these teachings are played out in the court of public opinion, these Catholics feel uncomfortable. It reminds me of a teenager who is embarrassed by his mother or father as being out of touch with what is politically correct in the eyes of his teen peers. Pope John Paul II would repeat over and over again Christ’s words to His disciples: "Do not be afraid." Witnessing to the Gospel was never intended to fill us with warm fuzzies but to help define us as courageous disciples.
Again and again, as I go around the archdiocese, I hear high praise for Archbishop Burke’s firm commitment to witness to the truths of the Catholic Church.
Another point that some people do not see is that Archbishop Burke sees canon law as a pastoral tool intended to help the faithful live the teachings of the Catholic Church. He understands that canon law was developed as a pastoral response to pastoral problems. I and others who have worked closely with Archbishop Burke see him as a very warm, compassionate and caring shepherd who wants to help his people in the very best way he can.
We owe it to Archbishop Burke to pray for him daily. He has given us such a clear vision of what the Church expects of us. He has courageously witnessed his love for us and for the Church. He has spent himself tirelessly on our behalf. Pope Benedict XVI sees all of this and more, and now needs Archbishop Burke in the Apostolic Signatura at the Vatican. As an archdiocese, we are incredibly honored to have had him serve us so well, and now we see that the Vatican needs those services for the universal Church. Our hearts are overflowing with great wonder and gratitude!