Cardinal Burke: conservative troublemaker

Pope Francis’ transfer of Cardinal Raymond Burke on Saturday from being the Vatican’s “chief justice” to a mere cardinal-protector of the Knights of Malta has intensified yet more irresponsible talk of schism within the Catholic church.

And top prize for the person most responsible for being irresponsible goes to none other than the man wearing the long red train.

Yes, to Burke himself.

In an interview with the news site just days before he was officially removed as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the 66-year-old American cardinal again stoked the fires.

He said if bishops, in the months leading to next year’s second gathering of the Synod of Bishops on the family, were seen to move “contrary to the constant teaching and practice of the Church, there is a risk [of schism] because these are unchanging and unchangeable truths.”

In the same interview, he urged Catholics to “speak up and act.”

If you look a bit more closely at the cardinal’s surprisingly fast advancement up the hierarchical ladder, as well as the groups with which he’s been most associated, you’ll understand which Catholics he’s talking about.

Raymond Burke studied theology in Rome, where Pope Paul VI ordained him to the priesthood in 1975.

He returned to his home diocese of La Crosse, Wis., and did a couple of years of chancery work and assisting at the cathedral before returning to Rome to get a doctorate in canon law.

He then did another few years of chancery work and teaching in the diocese before being called to the Vatican in 1989 to work in the Apostolic Signatura.

Five years later, at only 46 years old, Pope John Paul II appointed him bishop of La Crosse.

In the nine years as head of his home diocese, his credentials as a doctrinal conservative and his strange penchant for the pre-Second Vatican Council Mass became more and more pronounced.

He reopened the diocese’s long-shuttered high school seminary, set about building a retrograde shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and helped establish a weird neo-Tridentine religious community that had a special indult to use the Old Rite.

This was a full decade before Pope Benedict XVI would eventually grant unfettered use of the Tridentine Mass throughout the church. Continue reading

Robert Mickens is editor-in-chief of Global Pulse.

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