Raymond Leo Burke
|Cardinal, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta|
Prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura
Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis
Burke as Archbishop of St. Louis
|Appointed||November 8, 2014|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Deacon of S. Agata de' Goti|
|Ordination||June 29, 1975|
by Pope Paul VI
|Consecration||January 6, 1995|
by Pope John Paul II, Giovanni Battista Re, and Jorge María Mejía
|Created cardinal||November 20, 2010|
by Pope Benedict XVI
|Born||June 30, 1948|
Richland Center, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Motto||Secundum cor tuum|
(English: "After your own heart")
|Coat of arms|
Raymond Leo Burke
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
|See||St. Louis (Emeritus)|
Sant'Agata dei Goti (titular)
Ordination history of
Raymond Leo Burke
Raymond Leo Burke (born June 30, 1948) is an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is an archbishop and the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, but is sidelined from the latter function. He served as the archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri, from 2004 to 2008 and as the bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, from 1995 to 2004. He was Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from June 2008 until November 2014.
A canon lawyer, Burke is often perceived as a voice of traditionalism and orthodoxy among prelates of the Catholic Church. He established a reputation as a conservative leader while serving in La Crosse and St. Louis. Burke is a major proponent of the Tridentine Mass, having frequently offered it and conferred ordinations on traditionalist priests. He has criticized what he sees as deficiencies in the newer Mass of Paul VI. He is frequently seen as the de facto leader of the Church's conservative wing.
Burke has publicly clashed with Pope Francis, vigorously opposing attempts by other bishops to relax Church attitudes towards gay people and those Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the church. He has expressed skepticism and criticism towards attempts by Pope Francis and other bishops to do so. Burke once mentioned the possible need to "formally correct" the Pope in relation to Amoris laetitia, although he has also expressed his loyalty towards him. While Burke has denied allegations of being disloyal to Pope Francis, a number of statements that he has made have been interpreted as direct criticisms of the Pope, leading to a backlash from some Catholics directed at Burke. On September 26, 2015, the Vatican announced that Burke had been reappointed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, from which he had been removed in December 2013, but not to his more influential positions on the Congregation for Bishops and the Apostolic Signatura. In 2016, he was not reappointed as a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
On February 2, 2017, Burke was sidelined when Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu as his special delegate to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, notwithstanding Burke's existing role as Patron of the order, with exclusive responsibility for the duties normally exercised by the Patron. On February 21, Albrecht von Boeselager, the Order's Grand Chancellor, announced that this meant Burke was "de facto suspended" from the patronage. He was reappointed by Pope Francis as a rank and file member of the Apostolic Signatura in September 2017.
Burke was born on June 30, 1948, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, the youngest of the six children of Thomas F. and Marie B. Burke. He is of Irish heritage with ancestors from Cork and Tipperary. Burke attended St. Mary's Parish School in Richland Center from 1954 to 1959. In 2012, an addition to the school was named the Raymond Cardinal Burke Annex in his honor. The family later moved to Stratford, Wisconsin. From 1962 to 1968, he attended Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin. From 1968 to 1971, he studied at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as a Basselin scholar, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 and a Master of Arts degree in 1971, both in philosophy. He completed studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome between 1971 and 1975, receiving a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree and a Master of Arts degree. Pope Paul VI ordained Burke to the priesthood on June 29, 1975, in St. Peter's Basilica.
After his ordination to the priesthood, Burke was assigned as assistant rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He also taught religion at Aquinas High School in La Crosse (where the new addition the Bishop Burke Hall was named in his honor in 1997 and then in 2011 was renamed the Cardinal Burke Hall). From 1980 to 1984, Burke studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a licentiate in canon law in 1982 and a doctorate in canon law in 1984. He then returned to La Crosse where he was named the Moderator of the Curia and Vice Chancellor of the La Crosse diocese. In 1989, Pope John Paul II named Burke the first American Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church.
On December 10, 1994, Pope John Paul II named Burke Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse and consecrated him on January 6, 1995, in St. Peter's Basilica. Burke took possession of the See of La Crosse on February 22, 1995.
In 2000, Burke convened the fifth diocesan synod for the Diocese of La Crosse, which resulted in the publication of Synod V, acts: celebrated June 11-14, 2000 in 2003. In 2002, he was influential in founding the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, an order of Augustinian canons dedicated to the Tridentine Mass, the traditional form of the liturgy in the Latin Church.
Two anonymous priests in the Diocese of La Crosse said that Burke's leadership was divisive. Many of his actions alienated some. One such example was the construction of the $25 million Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, with some saying that the money used should have gone to the poor, while Burke defended the move as a fruitful way to raise spiritual devotion. Another was the diocese's withdrawal from Church World Service's annual Crop Walk because some of the money raised was being used to purchase condoms in developing countries. Burke also welcomed numerous traditional orders, including the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), whose priests offer exclusively the Tridentine Mass, to his diocese. This proved unpopular among the clergy and laity alike. Two priests left the diocese as a result of his policies. Burke closed a number of schools while also raising teachers' salaries. His style was noted by some of his aides to be more formal than that of his predecessor, John Joseph Paul, although his aides described him as warm and approachable in private. During his tenure, the diocese continued to participate in charitable efforts while also increasing its moral and political activism.
On December 2, 2003, Burke was named Archbishop of St. Louis, succeeding Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, who had been appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia. He was installed on January 26, 2004, and was presented with the pallium on June 29, 2004, by Pope John Paul II. In St. Louis, Burke emphasized the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. He also published a column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper, the Saint Louis Review. In both La Crosse and St. Louis, Burke established oratories for those desiring to worship according to the traditional form. As he had done in La Crosse, he invited the Institute of Christ the King into his diocese and ordained priests for the group both in the U.S. and abroad. His ordination of two ICKSP priests on June 15, 2007, in a Solemn Pontifical High Mass marked the first time in 40 years that the Tridentine rite of ordination had been used in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. In 2006, when Missouri voters narrowly approved an amendment to the state constitution permitting embryonic stem cell research, he said it meant that "our tiniest brothers and sisters ... will be made legally the subjects, the slaves, of those who wish to manipulate and destroy their lives for the sake of supposed scientific and technological progress".
During his tenure, Burke escalated a long running dispute over the attempted closing of a church in the diocese, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, and the ownership of its significant assets. After Father Marek Bozek led a Christmas Eve Mass in 2005 despite the archdiocese's previous attempted-closure of the parish, Burke "declare[d] that the church was in 'schism', a designation that led to the excommunication of Bozek and the church's lay board. In 2012, a state court ruled against the diocese and sided with the congregation, now an independent Catholic church, and awarded it full ownership of the significant parish assets.
In July 2006, Benedict XVI appointed Burke a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court in the Catholic Church. In May 6, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave Burke two Vatican assignments. He was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon law, and a member of the Congregation for the Clergy.
On June 27, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which exercises final appellate jurisdiction for conflicts between Vatican congregations and appeals of administrative decisions by diocesan bishops and Vatican congregations. Burke was the first non-European named to head the tribunal and became the second-highest ranking American prelate at the Vatican after Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Burke was appointed a member of several dicasteries of the Roman Curia: on May 6, 2008, of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which authoritatively interprets canon law, and of the Congregation for the Clergy, which regulates the formation and training of diocesan priests and deacons; on October 17, 2009, of the Congregation for Bishops, which oversees the appointment of most Latin Church bishops outside mission territories; on July 6, 2010, of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; on July 24, 2010, of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; and on January 29, 2011, of the Council of Cardinals and Bishops of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. On October 7, 2008, Burke was appointed President of the Commission for Advocates, which is responsible for admitting qualified canon lawyers to a registry of those who may practice in the Vatican's courts.
On March 11, 2010, in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that had come to light in Europe, Burke said that the Vatican needed to prepare a document that outlined a set of explicit guidelines rooted in Canon Law that would guide bishops and their local tribunals worldwide in determining how to report the cases to the Holy See, so as to speed up the process by which justice is done for the victims. Changes would also be made to a policy that provided for high levels of secrecy in the process.
On November 20, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made Burke Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Agata dei Goti, the fifth Archbishop of St. Louis to become a member of the College of Cardinals. On February 5, 2011, the memorial of Saint Agatha, Burke took canonical possession of his titular church in Rome.
On December 16, 2013, Pope Francis made extensive changes to the influential Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican department that oversees the selection of new bishops. Among them, Burke was not reappointed as a member. It was speculated that Pope Francis removed Burke as a form of rebuke for his conservative ideology. As a result, it "raise[d] eyebrows." According to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the removal of Burke happened largely due to the influence of then-cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington. However, such a claim has not been independently verified.
On November 4, 2014, Burke publicly complained that "There is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder." He had balanced his critique by stating that he did not want to be interpreted as criticizing the pope.
On November 8, four days later, Pope Francis removed Burke as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and named him Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a largely ceremonial post usually given to a retired cardinal or as a secondary job to an active one.
Many perceived Burke's dismissal as related to his "rudderless ship" comment. Pope Francis denied that removing Burke as head of the Vatican's highest court was a "punishment" for his outspoken conservative views at the 2014 Synod on the Family, saying that he wanted a "smart American" to serve as patron of the Order of Malta. The pontiff said that the move was part of a broader restructuring of the Vatican bureaucracy that had been decided well before the synod, but he had waited until after the synod to make it official so Burke could still participate in the meeting as the head of a Vatican department.
Trouble later surfaced for Burke by early 2017 after it was revealed that he and former Knights of Malta Grand Master Matthew Festing had worked to oust Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager for supplying condoms to people in Myanmar, in contradiction to official Catholic teaching which prohibits artificial contraception. On February 2, 2017, Burke was sidelined as the Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta when Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu as his special delegate to the Order with exclusive responsibility for the duties normally exercised by the Patron. On February 21, Albrecht von Boeselager, the order's Grand Chancellor, announced that this meant Burke was "de facto suspended" from the patronage.
In November 2016, Pope Francis removed Burke from the membership of the Congregation for Divine Worship. This was seen to be in response to the dubia (Latin for doubts) submitted by him, together with three other cardinals, to elements of Amoris laetitia which appear to them to be at odds with Catholic moral teaching, notably with regard to the treatment of divorced persons. Burke had indicated that in the absence of a response to the dubia a "formal correction" of Pope Francis would probably follow.
Beginning in February 2017, Burke was transferred to Guam, where he presided over a five-judge panel at the trial of Bishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agaña on charges of sexual abuse of minors. In March 2018, the court found Apuron guilty and ordered that he be removed from office.
On September 30, 2017 Francis reappointed him a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He assumed the position of a rank and file member, and did not regain his earlier position as prefect.
Burke previously chaired the advisory board of the Institute for Human Dignity, a Catholic-inspired non-governmental organization based in Rome. Burke terminated his relationship with the institute in June 2019 amid its being identified increasingly with the political program of Steve Bannon. He became the leader of the Holy League, officially launched on March 7, 2015, on the 444th anniversary of the Holy League called by Pope Pius V against the Ottoman empire in 1571. The modern Holy League describes itself as a parish-based network of men united in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Burke is widely viewed as a leader of the conservative wing of the Church, and de facto leader in the United States to those that oppose the reforms under Pope Francis. Shortly after Pope Francis did not re-appoint him to the Congregation of Bishops, Burke said, "One gets the impression, or it's interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we're talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman. But we can never talk enough about that."
Burke has denied media perceptions that the Pope planned to change the Catholic Church's teaching on moral issues. He said that people "hardened against the truth" would claim that the Pope wants to change Church teachings that today's secularized culture rejects. He also said "their false praise of the Holy Father's approach mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter", and that he consequently "rejects the acceptance and praise of the world". Pope Francis spoke favorably of Burke in 2017, saying, "I do not see Cardinal Burke as an enemy." He also called Burke "an excellent lawyer."
In an interview with The Wanderer on January 10, 2019, Burke denounced Pope Francis's September 2018 Holy See-China Agreement. He said that it was "in effect ... a repudiation of generations of martyrs and confessors of the Faith in China." Burke also criticized the notion of "synodality", in which authority is removed from the pope and placed in the hands of bishops. "In listening to the Pope, one is given the impression that he is giving more and more authority to individual bishops and Conferences of Bishops. But this is not the Catholic Church", Burke said. He accused promoters of synodality of attempting to affect a "revolution" in the Church, the end of which would result in Catholicism being practiced differently in various countries, to the overall detriment of the Church.
Burke's perceived status as an ultra-conservative and opponent of Pope Francis has led to criticism. Some bishops have refused to allow him to host conferences in their dioceses, and a number of priests have protested against him "and accuse him of spreading propaganda against the Pope." The National Catholic Reporter published a highly critical editorial about Burke in July 2019, castigating him as "the modern version of that religious leader that drew some of Jesus' harshest condemnations, those who placed undue burdens on others and pronounced themselves the undisputed bearers of truth." It rebuked him for allegedly wanting to "reconstitute the clericalism that is at the heart of the sex abuse cover-up scandal that continues to undermine the authority of the church," and for attempting "to replace the dynamism of Francis' model of accompaniment with a return to a statute-bound and static institution in service of itself."
In September 2019, Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan published an 8-page letter denouncing what they alleged to be six theological errors in the working document for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region and asking that Pope Francis "confirm his brethren in the faith by an unambiguous rejection of the errors." Burke and Schneider criticized the document for its "implicit pantheism," support for married clergy and a greater role for women in the liturgy, and for what they considered to be excessive openness to pagan rituals and practices common among the Amazonian peoples. They asked that the laity and the clergy pray at least one decade of the Rosary and fast weekly for the rejection of such ideas over a 40 day period, from September 17 to October 26.
During the 2004 presidential election, Burke stated that he would not give communion to John Kerry or other Catholic politicians who publicly support legalized abortion. "One of the problems I have is bishops who say to me, 'Well, this is unheard of in the church's practice.' Actually it goes back to St. Paul in the (First) Letter to the Corinthians, when he says: The person who eats and drinks the body and blood of Christ unworthily eats and drinks condemnation unto himself," he said. He also wrote a pastoral letter saying Catholics should not vote for politicians who support abortion or other "anti-life" practices. Burke later clarified his position, stating 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 he also stated that he could not think of any sort of issue that would qualify. In a September 2008 interview, Burke said that "the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death', because of its choices on bioethical questions", especially elective abortion.
In 2008, Burke urged Saint Louis University to take disciplinary action against its head basketball coach, Rick Majerus, after Majerus publicly supported abortion and embryonic stem cell research at a campaign event for Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Burke stated that "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 University supported Majerus's right to publicly expound on his own personal views when made at an event he did not attend as a university representative.
In March 2009, Burke called on American bishops to withhold the Eucharist from Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion. The bishops' failure to do so, Burke said, "is weakening the faith of everyone. It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion." He also said that any president who promotes and implements "anti-life" legislation could be an "agent of death". Burke later said that he made his remarks not as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, head of the Vatican's highest court, but simply as an American bishop. Two months later in May, Burke stated, "Since President [Barack] Obama clearly announced, during the election campaign, his anti-life and anti-family agenda, a Catholic who knew his agenda regarding, for example, procured abortion, embryonic-stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage, could not have voted for him with a clear conscience." During the election, Obama had not officially called for same-sex marriage, but had advocated same-sex civil unions.
When Sheryl Crow, who advocates for abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, was scheduled to perform at a benefit concert for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Burke stated that to have the hospital host Crow would give "the impression that the Church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching." He asked that her invitation be privately removed, and resigned from the board on April 25, 2007, when Crow's performance was confirmed.
In an August 2019 interview, Burke criticized people who consider themselves members of the Church but disagree with its teaching on certain issues. "I've had non-Catholic leaders of government in this nation tell me that they were certain that the Catholic teaching on abortion and so-called same-sex marriage have changed because so many Catholics on Capitol Hill are regularly supporting this kind of legislation. And that's a scandal," he said. Singling out Joe Biden, he told such people not to attempt to receive Holy Communion. "It's not a punishment. It's actually a favor to these people to tell them don't approach, Burke said, "because if they approach, they commit sacrilege." Burke denounced Kamala Harris for her criticisms of Judge Brian Buescher and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, saying that people "need to look at that kind of statement for what it is and say this isn't a person who I want to be the leader of my nation."
In June 2008, Burke as the Archbishop of Saint Louis applied an interdict, which excludes a person from Church ministries and the sacraments, to a Sister of Charity, Louise Lears, judging her guilty of three grave canonical offenses against the Catholic Church's faith and teachings. Lears, a pastoral worker and educator, had publicly stated her belief that all of the Church's ministries, including the priesthood, should be open to women. Lears received the interdict after attending an ordination ceremony, which the Church does not recognize, of a woman to the priesthood at a Jewish synagogue by the WomenPriests movement.
In January 2015, Burke gave an interview to an organization called the New Emangelization [sic] Project. The group was formed to confront what it calls a "man crisis" in the Catholic Church. In the interview, Burke is sympathetic to the group's concerns that men are being driven from the pews because of the "feminization" of the Catholic Church. Burke criticized what he saw as the excessive role of "radical feminism" in the Church. He said that it has "assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized" and led the Church to deemphasize issues important to men, such as chivalry and sacrifice. In addition to decrying "radical feminism", he specifically criticized the introduction of female altar servers as an unwelcome sign of the "feminization" of the Church and a disincentive to boys to serve at the altar and start on the path to ordination. "The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service", Burke said. "Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time."
Burke adds that it requires a "certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of a priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys. If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically."
In a 2013 interview, Burke said that same-sex marriage "is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which, after life itself, defines us. There is only one place these types of lies come from, namely Satan. It is a diabolical situation which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation."
In an interview in October 2014, Burke referred to gay relationships as "profoundly disordered and harmful", stating that parents should not "expose [their] children to that." He suggested that parents should not allow their children to have contact with sexually active gay people and should discourage them from attending family gatherings such as celebrations at Christmas. He has described homosexuality as an "ailment" which is not genetic but largely depended on a person's environment. Shortly after he argued that Pope Francis had never said that positive elements could be found in homosexual acts, adding that it was "impossible to find positive elements in an evil act."
In a 2015 interview with LifeSiteNews he said that the situations of gay couples and divorced and remarried Catholics are analogous to the situation of "the person who murders someone and yet is kind to other people," in that good acts do not mitigate the sinfulness of other acts. David Gibson, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, suggested Burke's comparison is out of step with the more pastoral approach of Pope Francis. Speaking in Oxford after the May 2015 same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, Burke said that he struggled to understand "any nation redefining marriage ... I mean, this is a defiance of God. It's just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage." Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh rebuked Burke and called his comments offensive and urged individuals "to try to be respectful and inoffensive in language" wherever possible.
In August 2017, Burke said that Cardinal Reinhard Marx's assertion that Germany's recent legalization of same-sex marriage should not be a major concern for the Catholic Church there showed how the Church lacked "the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture". He alluded to diabolical errors spreading from society to Church leaders, raising concerns that the "end times" were nearing, and once again stating that homosexuality was a sinful act. He insisted that the correct approach would distinguish between the love for the person and the hatred Catholics "must always have for sinful acts".
In 2019, Burke chastised some of his fellow bishops for their perceived failures in keeping Church teaching. He believes there are "pressure groups" within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who have been attempting to soften the church's attitude on homosexuality, including trying to remove the description "intrinsically disordered" from the discussion of homosexual acts in the Catechism, a change which Burke said is "not possible." Burke went on, "There is definitely within the hierarchy of the United States an element which is not coherent with the Church on these issues." He then criticized prelates who "promote Fr. James Martin ... within their dioceses." He alleged that Martin "is not coherent with the Church's teaching on homosexuality" and said that such promotion is "an indication to us that there is a serious difficulty within the hierarchy that must be addressed."
In February 2019 Burke penned an open letter with Cardinal Walter Brandmuller addressed to Pope Francis calling for an end of "the plague of the homosexual agenda" which they blamed for the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church. They claimed the agenda was spread by "organized networks" protected by a "conspiracy of silence."
Burke has opposed any hypothetical change of Church doctrine that would permit civilly divorced Catholics who are validly married to remarry or receive the Eucharist once they have entered into a second civil marriage. In 2013 he co-authored a book with cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Müller and George Pell on the subject.
An interim document from the 2014 Synod of Bishops softened the Catholic Church's language on gays, contraception and divorced and civilly remarried people. Burke said that the response showed that "a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable." In an interview with Catholic World Report, Burke said the document "lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church) and gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one member of the Synod called 'revolutionary', teaching on marriage and the family." Burke went on to say, in an interview with BuzzFeed, that if "Pope Francis had selected certain cardinals to steer the meeting so as to advance his personal views on matters like divorce and the treatment of LGBT people", he would not be observing his mandate as the leader of the Catholic Church.
In a January 2015 interview, responding to a hypothetical question concerning the actions of Pope Francis, Burke vowed to "resist" if the pontiff moved to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. In another interview in the German daily Die Welt on April 24, 2015, concerning the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Burke renewed his criticism of German Cardinal Walter Kasper, whose "merciful" solution for remarried divorcees who wish to receive communion was discussed at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod. "We are bound by the Magisterium. But some Synod Fathers, above all Cardinal Kasper, want to change it. So I had to make myself very clear. Clashes at Synods, incidentally, are nothing unusual. Think of the early Councils, the Arian heresy, for instance, when Athanasius even became physically aggressive", Burke recalled. He also mentioned that Pope John Paul II had ruled out women's ordination "once and for all".
Burke, along with three other cardinals, issued a set of dubia, or doubts, to Pope Francis, entitled clarity various points of doctrine in the Pope's 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia and on general Christian life. The other cardinals were Italian Carlo Caffarra and Germans Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner. Since the 2014 synod, some bishops had begun allowing Catholics who had been divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion, despite the fact that such persons are traditionally said to be committing adultery and living in mortal sin and therefore ineligible to participate according to official Church law. A footnote in Amoris laetitia was seen as allowing that under some circumstances. Burke said that if divorced and remarried Catholics were permitted to receive Holy Communion, "then the Church's teaching on marriage is finished."
The four cardinals submitted the dubia in private, followed by a public letter ("Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia") in November 2016, asking Francis to clarify various points of doctrine. The first dubia asked about the reception of the sacraments by the divorced and remarried. The public letter asked about fundamental issues of the Christian life and referenced Pope John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis splendor. In April 2017, following no reply to their letter, the cardinals requested a meeting with Francis, but there has been no response to this request.
On April 7, 2018, Burke, along with Brandmüller and Schneider, participated in a conference rejecting the outline proposed by German bishops to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist. Citing chapter 19 of the Gospel of Matthew, he disputed the notion that anyone, including the pope, had the authority to accept divorced and remarried Catholics as full members of the Church. During the conference, Burke expressed the belief that a "public correction" of a pope in error can take place after a private one has been ignored or rejected. "As a matter of duty, the pope can be disobeyed," Burke said. He added that "the Roman pontiff can dispense with the law only for the purpose of preserving its purpose, and never for subverting it."
In an interview on September 6, Burke said that he shared fellow dubia signatory Caffarra's "profound sadness" that the dubia never received a response, and wondered whether such sadness contributed to his death. "The dubia must have a response sooner or later," Burke said. "It's a simple response: Yes or no. That's all. It's not complicated."
At a July 23, 2011, conference on end-of-life care sponsored by the St. Gianna Physician's Guild, Burke said that suffering does not cause a person to have less meaning in his life, nor does it give the government the right to decide if that person should live or die: "No matter how much a life is diminished, no matter what suffering the person is undergoing, that life demands the greatest respect and care. It's never right to snuff out a life because it's in some way under heavy burden."
In 2012, during negotiations between the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which is not in full union with the Holy See, Burke expressed optimism that the Society's members would reconcile themselves with the Vatican. He referred to the Society's members as people who "have the Catholic faith and the love of the sacred liturgy." The talks eventually failed. In July 2017, Burke said that SSPX was "in schism" and that it was "not legitimate to attend Mass or to receive the sacraments in a church" of theirs, and that faithful Catholics should avoid SSPX liturgies. He criticized Pope Francis's openness towards SSPX, stating that "There is no canonical explanation for it, and it is simply an anomaly", because while they were not excommunicated, they also were not in full communion with the Church.
In a July 2007 apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI authorized wider use of the older Tridentine Mass, which mostly fell out of use following the Second Vatican Council. Restoration of all or some parts of the traditional Mass have been supported by Burke as part of a "reform of the reform", modifying what he sees as deficiencies in the implementation of the newer Mass of Paul VI. In 2012, Burke said the following regarding the liturgical changes that took place after the council:
There was a stripping away, a changing of the form of the rite that in my judgment was too much. You can't take a living reality, the worship of God as God has desired that we worship him, and tamper with it without doing violence [to it] and without in some way damaging the faith life of the people.
Burke referred to Summorum Pontificum as "the most splendid contribution of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI." Over the years, Burke has frequently offered the traditional form of the Mass, including regularly performing ordinations for the ICKSP and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, both traditionalist groups whose priests offer only the older form of the Mass.
On March 2, 2011, Burke said that too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant, when they are actually "serious abuses" that damage the faith of Catholics. He criticized a perceived lack of reverence in the way the modern liturgy is sometimes conducted, stating "If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith." In a 2015 interview, Burke reiterated his concern that man has become center of Mass, saying that "In many places the Mass became very priest-centered, it was like the 'priest show.' This type of abuse leads to a loss of the sense of the sacred, taking the essential mystery out of the Mass. The reality of Christ Himself coming down on the altar to make present His sacrifice on Calvary gets lost."
The 2012 Synod of Bishops meeting focused on "The New Evangelization". In written comments to the synod, Burke criticized "antinomianism", the belief that grace exempts Christians from obedience to moral law, stating that it is "among the most serious wounds of society today," and is responsible for the legalization of "intrinsically evil" actions such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.
In an interview on July 20, 2016, Burke said there is "no question that Islam wants to govern the world", and that Western societies should return to their Christian roots. Burke said that, for anyone "not at peace with the idea of being under an Islamic government", it was reasonable to be "afraid" of such a prospect. He was speaking ahead of the publication of a new book, Hope for the World: To Unite All Things in Christ. In the book, Burke says:
Islam is a religion that, according to its own interpretation, must also become the State. The Koran, and the authentic interpretations of it given by various experts in Koranic law, is destined to govern the world. ... In reality, there is no place for other religions, even though they may be tolerated as long as Islam has not succeeded in establishing its sovereignty over the nations and over the world.
Before the 2016 United States presidential election, Burke met with Steve Bannon, a close advisor to Donald Trump who strongly opposes illegal immigration and Muslim immigration. The two men were reported to have maintained at least occasional contact with each other. After Trump's victory, Burke said that he did not "think the new president [would] be inspired by hatred in his treatment of the issue of immigration." In 2017, Burke met with the right-wing Italian nationalist Matteo Salvini, head of Italy's Northern League and an opponent of Pope Francis on immigration and dialogue with Muslims.
On May 17, 2019, Burke reiterated his critical views of Islam and large-scale Muslim immigration into the West. He said that some Muslims in the United States have "set up their own legal order", through which they "resist the legitimate authority of the state." He specifically cited a book called No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, by former Breitbart News reporter Raheem Kassam. Burke restated his conviction that Islam "believes itself to be destined to rule the world" and said that "to be opposed to large-scale Muslim immigration is in fact, as far as I'm concerned, a responsible exercise of one's patriotism."
On August 16, 2018, Burke described ongoing sex abuse scandals in the church as "an apostasy from the faith." He added that "principally, it starts with the idea that there can be legitimate sexual activity outside of marriage, which of course is false, completely false." Burke called for prayer and acts of reparation in the midst of the crisis.
On August 25, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page letter describing a series of warnings he claimed had been given to the Vatican regarding sexual misconduct by Theodore McCarrick. According to Viganò, Pope Benedict XVI placed secret restrictions on McCarrick, but Pope Francis removed them and made McCarrick "his trusted counselor." The end of the letter called on Francis and all those responsible for the coverup to resign. The allegations have not been conclusively verified - however the letter provoked diverse reactions. A number of bishops sharply criticized it while others called for an investigation. Burke said that Viganò's statements "must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church" and added that "each declaration must be subject to investigation." Burke later said that "lay faithful who are well-prepared" in dealing with sexual abuse cases "should be called upon to investigate and help get to the bottom of" the church's clergy abuse problem, while also stating that any group of people investigating abuse cases must ultimately report and answer to the pope.
In 2019, Burke was reported to have received, together with other influential U.S. Catholic leaders, substantial monetary gifts from West Virginia bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who had resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. The gifts had been reimbursed by the diocese. Burke said that the gifts that he received were "generous" but "not lavish," and that he had used them to make charitable donations.
On June 10, 2019, Burke, Cardinal J?nis Pujats, and three other bishops published a 40-point "Declaration of Truths" claiming to reaffirm traditional Church teaching. The bishops wrote that such a declaration was necessary in a time of "almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation." Specific passages in the declaration implicitly relate to several writings by Pope Francis, and some of them are seen as criticism or even opposition. The declaration states that "the religion born of faith in Jesus Christ" is the "only religion positively willed by God," seemingly alluding to a document signed by Pope Francis on February 4 called "Human Fraternity" which stated that the "diversity of religions" is "willed by God." Following recent changes to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to oppose capital punishment, the declaration states that the Church "did not err" in teaching that civil authorities may "lawfully exercise capital punishment" when it is "truly necessary" and to preserve the "just order of societies."
Archbishop Robert James Carlson of St. Louis created the Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Chair in Canon Law at St. Louis's Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. In May 2011, the Franciscan University of Steubenville awarded Burke an honorary doctorate.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, seen as the leader of the pope's conservative opposition.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, an arch-conservative American canon lawyer.
|Catholic Church titles|
John Joseph Paul
| Bishop of La Crosse
Jerome E. Listecki
Justin Francis Rigali
| Archbishop of St. Louis
Robert James Carlson
| Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
|-- TITULAR --
Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Agata de' Goti
| Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta|