Cardinal clarifies comments on resisting Pope over doctrine

An American cardinal has moved to contextualise his claim that he would resist any possible move by Pope Francis away from Catholic doctrine.

In an interview on a French television channel, Cardinal Raymond Burke said popes do not have the power to change the Church’s teaching or doctrine.

Papal power is “at the service of the doctrine of the faith”, he explained, according to a translation of the interview on the blog Rorate Caeli.

The interviewer then asked: “In a somewhat provocative way, can we say that the true guardian of doctrine is you, and not Pope Francis?”

“We must, let us leave aside the matter of the Pope,” the cardinal replied.

“In our faith, it is the truth of doctrine that guides us.”

“If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?” the interviewer then asked.

“I will resist. I cannot do anything else,” he said.

Cardinal Burke went on to say that the Catholic Church is facing “a difficult time” that is “painful” and “worrisome”.

But he recalled the Lord’s assurances in the Gospel that the forces of evil would not prevail.

Asked whether Pope Francis is his friend, the cardinal replied, “I would not want to make of the Pope an enemy, certainly!”

According to a subsequent report on the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Burke said he was “responding to a hypothetical situation” in his comments about Pope Francis and doctrine.

“I simply affirmed that it is always my sacred duty to defend the truth of the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding marriage,” Cardinal Burke said.

“No authority can absolve me from that responsibility, and, therefore, if any authority, even the highest authority, were to deny that truth or act contrary to it, I would be obliged to resist, in fidelity to my responsibility before God.”

Late last year, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Burke to a largely ceremonial position with the Order of Malta.

This came after the cardinal’s term as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura had come to an end.

Many commentators saw the move by Pope Francis as a demotion for Cardinal Burke.


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