09 February 2015

Now Is the Time to Wake from Sleep: the Cardinal Burke "I Will Resist" Interview

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that one of the reasons this blog exists is the great man of our day in the Holy Catholic Church, Raymond Cardinal Burke.  In February of 2007, Cardinal Burke was the Archbishop of Saint Louis. And he was in a familiar place-- standing for the truth, and under attack by his enemies via the media.

I thought it outrageous that the Archbishop was under fire for doing his job as a Bishop, when so many Bishops were seemingly unwilling to do theirs.  It wasn't just His Eminence's love of tradition that spurred me to action, though that was a motivating factor, but it was his love for the truth-- the Truth of the Faith-- and that he was willing to suffer for it.

Sorry for the analogy, but like Gandalf at the bridge, he didn't deserve to stand alone.  Like Pippin, perhaps, I didn't have much to add, but I was going to add it.

Cardinal Burke loved his time in Saint Louis, I'm convinced, and he is loved and deeply missed by faithful Catholics here.  It is telling that upon his elevation to the Signatura, he retained the title Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis.  

Well, since then the whole Church learned what we in Missouri (and Wisconsin-- I won't forget you) already knew: this exceptional prelate was going to stand for the truth, in charity, and was not going to yield.  He was, and is, prepared to suffer for it.  

Are we?

Cardinal Burke is prepared to follow his Lord to the Cross over the integrity of the faith, and the integrity of the Church.

Are we?

His kind of leadership, springing from moral integrity, is what attracts people of good will.  I am not ashamed to say that I love this man, a man I have not spoken to above ten times, but one for whom I pray every day.  He is a true shepherd in the service of the Good Shepherd, the One whose sheep know Him, and He knows them.

You have to admire someone who will actually say what he thinks is true, regardless of what the game requires a savvy person to say. This kind of truth-telling can elevate a person to high office, and it can get him sacked. It has done both for Cardinal Burke, as is well-documented.

The reaction depends on whether the person with decision-making authority over personnel values this integrity and sometimes whether the decision-maker is himself a man of integrity.

We have recently marked the ending of the Christmas season, celebrating Christ, the Prince of Peace.  But we know that this Prince of Peace Himself said, "I come not to bring peace, but the sword." (Mt. 10:34).

The truth is a sword.  It divides.  The question for us is this: which side will we be on?

So... fast forward to the interview Cardinal Burke gave to the French program 13:15 Dimanche.  He answered questions in French and in Italian, with a Latin phrase thrown in.  There were no English questions, and no English answers.  And the program's editing was very stylistic, with a lot of jumps from comments to program commentary to film clips.  So, bear that in mind.  There may be some clarification by the Cardinal on this, but so far there is none.  And the content of his words, even the context of his words, is not seemingly in doubt. 

As usual, Rorate Caeli has the full story, complete with video and readable translation.  From the translation:

-[Burke, in Italian:] I cannot accept that communion be given to a person who is living in an irregular union, because it is adultery. On the matter of persons of the same sex, this has nothing to do with matrimony. This is a suffering that some persons have, of being attracted - against nature, sexually - to persons of the same sex. Those people, we must help them to live chastely. But there is no relation to marriage and family, it is a separate issue.


-[Interviewer:] How do you intend to place pope Francis on the good path?

-[Burke, in Italian] On this, also one must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope. The classic formulation is that, "the Pope has the plenitude, the fullness, of power." This is true. But it is not absolute power. His power is at the service of the doctrine of the faith. And thus the Pope does not have the power to change teaching, doctrine.

-[Interviewer:] In a somewhat provocative way, can we say that the true guardian of doctrine is you, and not pope Francis?

-[Burke, in Italian:] [Smiles, shakes his head] We must, let us leave aside the matter of the Pope. In our faith, it is the truth of doctrine that guides us.

-[Interviewer:] If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?

-[Burke, in Italian:] I will resist. I cannot do anything else. There is no doubt that this is a difficult time, this is clear, this is clear.

His Eminence's comments are very bracing, very sobering.  Also, they're true.  If Pope Francis attempts to change Church practice on allowing persons living in adultery to receive Holy Communion without any sign of repentance, then His Eminence will resist. Because the Pope's authority is at the service of the truth, and no Pope can change the truth. 

As I alluded to above, this kind of integrity wins grateful friends and creates implacable enemies. During the salad days of thatPope, when Cardinal Burke was in favor, you saw lots of camp-followers. Now, in the days of thisPope, those same paid shills are part of the howling mob.  You know this.

Remember that His Eminence is willing to suffer for the truth.  Are we? 

Obviously, this is an if/then scenario.  If the Pope does not change the position on unrepentant public adulterers receiving Holy Communion, then this interview is a mere curiosity.  So no, we should not press the panic button yet.  But would be fools if we did not acknowledge that we live in a time when the scenario described is a credible possibility.  So what now? Pray and watch: 

11 And that knowing the season; that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.  

Romans 13:11-14

May God's Holy Mother guide and protect the Holy Father, Cardinal Burke, and all of us.  

May she ever protect the Church.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering what the "resistance" will entail. Assume arguendo that the pope were to change the Church's uninterrupted discipline in this regard. Cardinal Burke then makes a public statement that the pope is in error and he won't follow him on this point.

Exactly what effect will that have on anything, practically speaking? Cardinal Burke is not an ordinary, so he has no authority over a diocese, and the majority of bishops are going to follow the pope.

Cardinal Burke has already publicly stated several times that pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion, and that has fallen on deaf ears for the most part.

And what of the laity? Of what does our resistance consist? The Sunday after the pope changes the Church's discipline, the lay person goes to Mass and sees his/her parish priest give Holy Communion to a divorced and remarried person. Then what?

I would like to see a discussion on the practical aspects of this subject. Exactly what acts does this alleged "resistance" encompass?


thetimman said...

Those are excellent questions. My own thought is that we as laymen will be needed to provide meaningful support to those brave priests and bishops who will stand for the truth. Obviously, the decision to give communion is the communion-giver's, or at least to use a tort phrase they have the "last clear chance" to avoid giving it. Bishops can be removed by the Vatican if they resist. Priests can be sacked by compliant bishops.

So, no, unless you are an "extraordinary" minister of Holy Communion, you cannot do any practical resistance. As an aside, might I point out that if one is such a person, it might be the time to consider why you would put yourself in this box?

So, if we see that pastor X at parish X is giving out sacrilegious communions, I suppose we can make our displeasure known, implore a change, etc. Assuming this will not often work, then we can vote with our feet, I guess.

But, like I said, we can support with prayer, practical efforts and publicity those who will be persecuted for adhering to the words of Christ and upholding the dignity of the sacraments.

Enough of this kind of support might just clarify things enough to point out the schism.

Prayer, mainly, is what we must "do".

Anonymous said...

I agree that these are excellent questions and ones that we should all start thinking about. What are we prepared to do? A plan is just a list of things that won't happen but you still have to have one.
Besides the prayer, which of course comes first, we really just have our 'time, talent, and treasure'. Who will we choose to give it to and who will we choose to take it away from? And does it perhaps do some good to start laying those markers down right now?


Anonymous said...

I'm sure that I am not the only reader here that has seen a similarity to where Cardinal Burke is at present and where Archbishop Lefevbre was 40 or so years ago. Makes it really easy and comforting to know my family is at a place in the Church where we are taught only that which has been handed down without ambiguity. No hand wringing here.

Pray for the Holy Father, his Grace Cardinal Burke and the Church.