By Guild of Blessed Titus, Wednesday, 13 April 2016
On social media and even some blogs, there are some quite wild and fantastical things being said of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s ‘intervention’ including talk of ‘betrayal’. What madness.
Nobody’s asked me for my thoughts, so I thought I’d give them to you anyway…
Precisely because faithful Catholics – especially in the blogosphere, yep, me too -are engaged in the painful realisation that their worst fears have largely been confirmed by the tone and noted passages within Amoris Laetitia, and because we are either involved in or are witnessing something akin to a mass public meltdown, it is probably a very good thing that Cardinal Burke has stepped forward with a calm and measured response to the document. Precisely because unfaithful Catholics – especially in the blogosphere – are engaged in the jubilant realisation that their dreams are made true by this document, is it important that Cardinal Burke has said what he has said. He has said, ‘You are still living in dreamland.’
We can easily get into a frame of mind in which because we are angry at the injustice that we have seen, that we are entirely justified, in every sense, in how we respond to that wrong. Cardinal Burke’s approach to the document is distinctly different to the lay, angry Catholic blogger. He is being criticised, may I suggest, because his response is humble, measured, deferential, meek, legal, proportioned, Christian and, for a man in his particular rank, very prudent. He is not pouring petrol onto the fire. He is pouring water.
Nowhere in the article he has penned for the National Catholic Register can it be inferred, that Cardinal Burke believes Amoris Laetitia to have added anything of great value or weight to the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel. It can almost certainly be inferred that it adds nothing to the Church’s teachings. Cardinal Burke is looking at Amoris Laetitia from a legal perspective. He is, after all, the former Apostolic Signatura. He knows his canon law. His assessment that the document changes nothing is, as a leading Prelate, important and worthy of note. His assessment is that, ‘There is nothing to see here.’ He is being widely ridiculed for saying that, but he is right to say it. Cardinal Burke is saying that, in terms of the Church’s teachings and in terms of the Church’s pastoral practise, Amoris Laetitia is 260 pages of irrelevant.
And yet, some Catholic bloggers are saying that the good Cardinal has hereby ‘wimped out’ of the debate? Have you seen any other prelates summarily call Amoris Laetitia, in terms of the Church’s teachings and practise, basically ‘entirely irrelevant’? I don’t know about you but if I had penned a document frantically or maniacally hoping that it will effect massive, revolutionary, epoch-defining change within the Catholic Church – or at least signed it in this hope – and a leading Churchman came out and publicly called my efforts – in terms of the Church’s perennial, irreplaceable teachings a waste of time, I might be a bit affronted if for no other reason than I had been challenged publicly by someone much cleverer than me and who was wise to my game plan.
Cardinal Burke surely knows that it is the intention of ‘progressive reformers’ to use this document to lever a culture shift in the Church. While bloggers speak of ‘betrayal’ few have noted that he is publicly reminding those who seek to do so that there is no cause at all in altering your Diocese’s or your parish’s customs in terms of the distribution of Holy Communion to those in objective mortal sin. When Cardinal Burke said, ‘I will resist’ in answer to an interviewers question concerning how he would respond should Pope Francis persist with the Kasper proposal, I think a lot of people thought that would mean, ‘I will rebel’. The good Cardinal is in no good place and no good position to behave as a petulant Catholic blogger nor just say the first thing that comes into his mind. Do you not think he may have prayed about this? Why are you not also feeling betrayed by Pope Benedict XVI who hasn’t yet said anything? Don’t expect Bishop Schneider to do say what you want him to say, in the way you would say it either. They would be fools to do so and they would also be fools not to think of the Church’s long term future after Francis, while countering the erroneous idea that this document has the authority to change anything.
For let us imagine that day, for a dreadful moment, that day when our beloved Pope dies and goes to his eternal reward. One day the Church will have to elect a new Pope and that Pope – if he is of sound Catholic judgement and believes sound Catholic doctrine – is somehow going to have to reconcile the thoughts, words and actions of his humble, pastorally-minded predecessor given to public bouts of populism, sometimes at the expense of sound doctrine, with what came before Francis and what comes after him – namely, the new Pope and those who may follow him. Whoever that man might be, unless he is going to dig up the bones of his predecessor and throw them into the Tiber, somehow the teachings of Francis, even his non-magisterial teachings (of which there are many) are going to have to be addressed.
What will be kept of Francis’s papal teachings? What will be left to gather moss and disappear? What does the post-Francis Church look like? A glorious citadel? A city in ruins? A crumbling edifice? Somehow, continuity, rather than rupture, in the line of Popes will have to be presented to the Church. That can be done, now, only if the thought of Jorge Bergoglio is ignored and the teachings of Pope Francis are retained. It may be that due to a lack of well-constructed thought and many ‘off the cuff’ remarks not a great deal of Pope Francis’s teachings are retained. After all, if you’re going to throw away your original speech/homily, tell the UN you come ‘in your own name’ etc…
Don’t you realise that Cardinal Kasper wants to change the culture of the Church in a revolution that will span 100 years? Don’t you realise he thinks that he has won? Don’t you realise that if leading Prelates suggest – for a moment – that he has won, that this lends to him a victory in terms of credibility that has not occurred? Don’t you realise that it is likely that Cardinal Burke and others, not wishing for the Church to break in two, must keep also in mind not just the present but the future of the Catholic Church after this tempest? Don’t you realise that Cardinal Burke and others are praying with you and for you that this storm within the Church comes to an end and peace will be restored within the Church, that the Barque of Peter can once more sail on waters that are serene? Are you really willing to so readily turn on someone who is on God’s side, who is on your side, who is on the side of the Angels?
As a lay Catholic blogger, I can say that I believe that whatever flowery language is within this document I believe it is thoroughly fraudulent, malevolent in intent and a danger to souls and I believe that in saying this, I am correct. Cardinal Burke is no less correct in telling the Church that the document carries no weight in apostolic teaching authority, that it is the private opinion of Pope Francis and that this summary of the Synod on the Family contains some interesting thoughts but ultimately cannot adjust, even a little bit, the Church’s teachings, customs, doctrines, laws and disciplines. But if you think he’s going to say what I just said in the way I say it, you’re mad. I think we bloggers can get so excited by our role in teaching our glorious faith that we can easily think we need not be taught or we have little new to learn, but we do. We need to learn humilty.
If priests and bishops and bishops conferences decide to take this document and use it as a vehicle for institutionalising their grievous dissent from the Magisterium and from the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ then they must know that they do so not because the Pope has released a non-magisterial document ‘permitting’ they do so – no power on Earth can, in fact, do that – but because they are looking for any excuse they can to spread their lawlessness over the Church. If they do, they act illegally and contrary to the will of Christ. Nothing the Pope has written changes that. It is Cardinal Burke’s position that it is not the Holy Father’s intention to do so.
I admire very much the tireless effort of those who blog much more than I do on the errors and dangers posed by this tempestuous period in the Church and the deeply distressing things that have been said, written and done during this papacy, by this confusing Pope and those who he has gathered around him. Especially, analysis of this document which highlights its serious flaws is important in defending the Church.
However, I also admire Cardinal Burke for his unfailing bravery, his unfailing charity, his unfailing modesty, his unfailing love for the Pope and the Church, his unfailing prudence and the fatherly nature in which I have seen him conduct himself in the public forum. He is a true Pastor behaving in a reasoned and calm manner while the whole Church is losing its head. He has shown true leadership by penning this article, leadership which is calm and measured which seeks to gather in, rather than to scatter, to make firm that which is shaken to the core. Holding these positions are not mutually exclusive. Come on, people. Chin up. Gird yourselves. Keep the Faith. Don’t give in to despair and don’t give into hatred, bitterness and rancour, for know you not that your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, then, strong in faith. And hope. And charity.
Long live this wise and prudent Prince of the Church and long live the Pope. Let us pray very much for the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops and the clergy and entrust all of them to the ever-Virgin, most wise, most amiable and prudent, Mother of God, Mary, most Holy.