Monday, November 3, 2014

Muzzle the Cardinals

This Synod 14 was one of the most interesting ones I have observed. It was full of so much tension, drama and had Catholics on the edge of their seats, so to speak. Many believe the Church was going to endorse same-sex marriage, Holy Communion for the divorced and other strange ideas. The release of the relatio made it even worse.

Accompanying this drama was the tension between Cardinals Kasper and Burke.  Both were at it in regards to the discussion regarding annulments and divorced Catholics being allowed to receive Communion. Kasper is on the side of relaxing the rules while Burke is on the leave it as is side. I must admit that both offered great arguments for their positions; however, I was bothered by how this tension was made public.

The media had a field day with this battle of the Cardinals. Stories on "schism in the Church" and "disunity among Cardinals" were rampant. This news of these public battles is unfortunate due to the fact that for centuries the Catholic Church made it a priority to do things quietly. I was bothered by both Cardinals using the media to battle it out, so to speak.  This was not a smart idea and I do not understand why the Cardinals would trust the media in this fashion.

What is even more troubling is Cardinal Burke's perceived attacks against Pope Francis. I say perceived because we are not really sure what was said and the media does not have a good track record in regards to quoting people correctly. However, in some of the interviews Cardinal Burke took part in, he seemed to insinuate that Pope Francis was not a strong leader and was calling him out on that. Recently in a Spanish paper, Burke apparently said, “Many have expressed their concerns to me. At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder, Now, it is more important than ever to examine our faith, have a healthy spiritual leader and give powerful witness to the faith.”

These words are deeply troubling for me and many other Catholics. I do not think it is wise to for Cardinal Burke to make comments like this. If he did say this, then it is obviously an attack on Pope Francis.  Many believe that Burke is venting his frustration and anger at the Pope after being demoted from his position as head of the Vatican dicastery of the Apostolic Signatura. He is now assigned as a patron of the Order of Malta.  Cardinal Burke is only 66 and for him to be placed in this position brings about speculation that maybe the Pope did not want him around in the curia.  Pope Francis has often voiced his view that Catholics must not be rigid.

Whatever the case may be, Cardinal Burke should speak with the Pope privately and not go to the media to do interviews.  Both Cardinals Burke and Kasper need a muzzle.  I say this with utmost respect but with bluntness.  We cannot have the princes of the Church using the media to battle each other or attack the Pope.  This sends an ugly message to all Catholics and to the world.  It sets up the stage for mockery among anti-Catholics and further discredits the Catholic Church from its claim to being a unified unchanging institution.  In a sense, this looks like two parents fighting in front of their kids leaving the kids confused as to why two people united in love are arguing in front of them.  

Cardinal Burke should stop doing interviews and go to a place to pray in silence as Pope Emeritus did. Perhaps this was why he was demoted. Pope Francis maybe wanted Burke to become more humble and accept a "lowly" position.  I understand and appreciate Cardinal Burke's zeal, but his approach is not good for the Church. Burke is now the laughing stock of many in the media, liberal square and among Catholics who feel he is a sort of cry baby whining about every thing. Some claim he is one of the last remnants of the old Catholic rigid world which is desperately seeking attention and relevance. They call him ridiculous for using attire from the past which comes across as arrogance and narcissism due to its "royal" tone.

 In some photos, I have seen him wearing a galero which is not allowed according to an article from L'Osservatore Romano, weekly English edition, II (April 17, 1969), p. 4 which says "The red cardinalitial hat ("galero") and the red plush hat are abolished." If Burke is wearing the red galero, he is openly defying the Church's norms regarding clergy attire. This is probably why he is seen as ridiculous and cartoonish for using these old styles that have always been criticized as being overly pompous and contradictory to Christ's call to be simple and poor. In formation both in seminaries and religious life, seminarians, postulants and novices are often told not to become "billboards." I have seen some young guys and girls with crucifixes or religious medals who were told to remove them because they were becoming too caught up with having a "religious look."  In seminaries and religious places such as friaries or monasteries, those who feel the need to wear a cassock or habit all the time are told not to do so because serving God and the Church is not about wearing a uniform, so to speak.

Again, it is sad to see these Cardinals making their dissenting views public. It is scandalous and causes division. Many lay faithful and even some clergy are arguing among themselves believing Cardinal Burke is somehow a hero while Pope Francis is a heretical zero. This is just wrong. The Pope should order all prelates to remain quiet and keep the Church's laundry away from the public. Cardinal Kasper is looking more like an Anglican bishop instead of a prince of the Catholic Church while Cardinal Burke almost looks like he is about to become the next Archbishop Lefebvre or start another Old Catholic church sect.  



  1. I agree, that " is sad to see these Cardinals making their dissenting views public...."

    I'm not nearly as upset about Synod 14 news coverage, reports about Relatio, and sound bites from various Cardinals, as I might be, though.

    I was a researcher long before I became a Catholic; can read 'academese,' and have learned to take news reports with a grain of salt. Sometimes, with a cargo-container-full of salt.

    I don't blame reporters and news editors for selecting the juiciest bits. They have obligations to their employers to maximize viewers or readers.

    That said, I think it's prudent to remember that Synod 14 was a bit like a business meeting. The idea, I gather, was to collect information and see what Cardinals from around the world perceived as current issues. It has, apparently, achieved that goal.

    I gather that we'll have a year to 'cool off,' followed by a review of the same topics.

    I'm looking forward to the result: with hope and expectation that the Catholic Church will continue as it has for two millennia - following the standing orders my Lord gave, adapting new techniques as humanity's societies change.

  2. One more thing, about individual Cardinals.

    I do not doubt that some Cardinals may have forgotten what the Catholic Church has been teaching, or have either misunderstood or deliberately distorted what our principles mean.

    Every Cardinal is a human being. Human beings are - not perfect. It's that inherited ethical rot we call "original sin," as understood by the Church.

    But cardinals, bishops, priests, the Pope, and the laity, are just the folks who currently work in the Church. Some of us have been Saints, some of us have been anything but, and the Church is still here.

    I became a Catholic in part *because of* the occasionally-appalling leadership the Church has endured. We hit a really bad patch, about a thousand years back, for example.

    I knew enough history to realize that an institution shouldn't have survived this long - as dynasties, kingdoms, and empires rose and fell. And that's getting off-topic.

    Bottom line, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and we've weathered much worse storms than today's.


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