January 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church doesn’t need to ask forgiveness for its teachings on sexual morality, Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview.
Speaking to O Clarim, Burke, one of the dubia cardinals and best-known defenders of Catholic orthodoxy around the world, addressed the Pope’s June 2016 claim that the Church should apologize to homosexuals. He blasted abortion and homosexual acts as “absolutely unacceptable” and “against the nature that God has created for us.”
“I must say sincerely, even though I haven’t read the words of the Pope, that I don’t see why the Church ought to ask forgiveness for teaching the truth about sex and sexuality,” said Burke.
“What I can say is that this year I turned 69, and I have spent my whole life in the Catholic Church,” he said. “I have never encountered discrimination against people who suffer from the homosexual condition.”
“We know that we are dealing with an abnormal condition,” Burke said. “God has not created us to have sexual relations with people of the same sex. This is not a discrimination against persons. It is to affirm the truth of Christ, the truth of our faith.”
“During my priesthood of more than 42 years, I have always found priests very compassionate in meetings with people who have had this difficulty and have suffered from this condition,” he said.
Burke himself is no stranger to helping the Catholic faithful who struggle with or even openly reject the Church’s teachings on sexual morality.
In 1995, Eric Hess boxed up his crucifixes and Bible and dropped them off at Burke’s office, renouncing his Catholic faith and embracing same-sex relationships. Burke was then the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Burke told Hess that he respected his decision, but would pray for his return to the faith and would be ready to welcome him back should he come home.
Three years later, Hess returned to the faith. The cardinal still had the man’s box of Catholic items, which he had kept, believing Hess would come back to Catholicism.
“While some malign Archbishop Burke for his fidelity to God, Church and all souls, I say that he is a true shepherd of the faithful and a present day Athanasius,” Hess maintains. “I tell you that he remains a mentor and an inspiration to me. Although my own biological father rejected me, Archbishop Burke became my spiritual father by lovingly representing our Father in heaven.”
Some acts are ‘absolutely unacceptable’
The cardinal, who is the former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, lamented the “frightening decline of Christian culture” and the increase of “rampant secularism” in the United States.
“I grew up during the ‘50s, when American society was marked by a Christian character, mostly Protestant but nevertheless faithful to the Christian identity,” said Burke.
“In those times, we knew about things that have become common today: the reality of abortion, of people who manifest homosexual tendencies, whose personal dignity we always respected, but we were formed to see these acts as absolutely unacceptable, against the nature that God had created for us,” he explained.
The “rampant secularism” tearing through the U.S. includes the annual killing of a million preborn babies and the imposition of “the practice of recognizing unions between two people of the same sex as marital unions.”
Burke described “mounting” attacks on religious liberty: “the government—which has become a very powerful agent of this secularism—forbids the Catholic Church and Catholics from following their conscience regarding the practice of abortion. The Church herself must accept what are considered homosexual ‘marriages.’”
Some of Pope Benedict’s advisors ‘did not serve him well’
Burke also commented on the Traditional Latin Mass, the Church’s relations with China, whether extensive traveling is necessary for a pope, and the role of Latin in the liturgy.
The “integrity of Catholic practice and of the faith” must be maintained when negotiating with the Chinese government on behalf of the Church’s rights.
He said he hopes papal resignations don’t become “common practice” because since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down, “there is a certain feeling among many Catholics that their father abandoned them.”
Burke repeatedly praised Pope Benedict during the interview, calling him an “extraordinary teacher of the faith” with “great charisma” and “a way of writing and speaking in a manner accessible to everyone.”
Extensive traveling is “not part of the Petrine ministry per se,” said Burke, even though Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Paul VI traveled a lot, so inability to travel should not necessarily end a pontificate.
Some who worked for Pope Benedict “did not serve him well,” Burke said on the topic of whether the retired pontiff was good at governing.
Offering the Tridentine (pre-Vatican II) Mass “is a way to remain strongly anchored in Tradition, because the Mass that we have celebrated since 1962 is more or less the Mass we have received from the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great,” he said. It’s “important” to keep it “alive” to “maintain a stronger link with Tradition.”
Burke gave an example of the increasingly apparent trend of young Catholics loving their ancient patrimony: “Today there is a great interest in Latin especially among young people. Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, who works now in the Latin section of the Secretariat of State, has a summer course in Latin that is always full. Many would like to participate, but cannot because often there are not enough places.”
Latin is the “living language of the Church,” the cardinal noted, “not a dead language.” And it’s not difficult to follow along when the Mass is in Latin given the availability of missals and handbooks that allow the faithful to pray the entire Mass along with the priest.
“The Mass in Latin has never posed a problem for me, even when I was a boy,” he said. “I understood that this language is a sacred language, spanning the centuries through its use in the Sacred Liturgy. Also, I remember very well the people who used to visit my family’s house when I was a boy, who told us about going to foreign countries, where they went to Mass, to the same Mass we did. This is a very important thing.”