Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Cardinal Burke, one of four cardinals asking Pope Francis to clarify the ambiguous and confusing parts of recent apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, has given an interview which you can read HERE.

MY COMMENT: Years ago, like in those infamous 1970's when I was in a liberal/progressive seminary and prior to the election of Pope St. John Paul II, there was, as it was called then, the loyal opposition to Pope Paul VI, who at that time was considered an outdated conservative. Why? Because His Holiness had issued that very controversial Humanae Vitae as well as tried to put the brakes on discussion of the ordination of women as priests. There were other things too. He was quite beleaguered by the left and right.

Then Pope Saint John Paul II was elected in the fall of 1978. His Holiness came in promising to restore the great discipline of the Church, asking nuns, monks and priests to wear distinctive religious garb/habits and a whole host of other more traditional aspects of the Church. In the 1990's His Holiness issued the new Catechism of the Catholic Church which left nothing ambiguous. In other words it wasn't coloring book Catholicism. I would say that the CCC is one of the most signifcant elements of His Holiness' papacy. His clarity of thought, philosophical background rooted in logic, all contributed to his splendid pursuit of truth in a confused Church and world.

Progressives hated it! They preferred to live with ambiguity and confusion, the messiness of life.

Pope Francis seems to be of the school of the 1970's that hated or had a major disdain for the clarity of moral and doctrinal teachings of Pope St. John Paul II and his co-worker, supporter and enforcer, successor Pope Benedict XVI.  Of course Pope Benedict in one of His Holiness most important speeches to the cardinals at Christmas set His Holiness' agenda as reviewing the Second Vatican Council's documents and implementation and seeking "reform in continuity" not rupture with what the Church had been prior to this pastoral Council.

It is now clear, that Pope Francis is a progressive and there is a settling of scores with the JPII and Benedict era where Cardinal Kasper had had a storied on-going conflict with both, but especially Pope Benedict when His Holiness was Cardinal Ratzinger. There are other elements of the South American Church that the JPII/Benedict period of the papacy challenged which Pope Francis has sought to suppress.

Back in the 1970's polarization of the Church, many conservatives where considering following Archbishop Lefebre into a papal schism (which eventually became the SSPX and oddly enough Pope Francis may integrate into the full communion with His Holiness).

Liberals were considering joining the truly schismatic liberal Catholic schisms, too many to mention.

I always thought to myself in the 1970's that I would never, ever break communion with the papacy, no matter how depraved a particular pope may be or how heterodox. I simply would wait it out and allow the Holy Spirit to take care of things (which the Holy Spirit did in the JPII/Benedict period!).

I feel the same today. I have serious questions about a public "loyal opposition" among cardinals, bishops and theologians to any reigning pope. I think it should be private and not public.  So I question Cardinal Burke and the other three cardinals for going public with their concerns and placing the pope in a public "rock and a hard place" position. This seems unprecedented to me, although I do know that cardinals and bishops openly disagreed with Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, but the challenge was never as overt and stinging as what the four Cardinals have done.

Time will tell if this will produce good fruit or bad or lead to the further polarization of the Church.

But I have to agree that progressives, like Pope Francis, are dogmatic and authoritarian and pre-Vatican II in their authoritarianism in implementing their liberal agenda. They are polarizing and as polarizing as progressives or liberals are in secular politics as we have seen in the Obama/Clinton recent election.

While my sentiments reside with the concerns of the four cardinals and have no doubt that their motives are ultimately worthy, I see it as further polarizing the Church and pushing the vulnerable away from the full communion of the Church under the pope.

There are checks and balances in terms of what a pope can change and can't. The mess that Pope Francis has intentionally caused will one day be clarified and in an orthodox way. We will have to patiently wait for that day and pray for the Holy Father every day! But I will never break Communion with any pope no matter how crazy, heterodox or simply caught in the "Peter principle." I will never support anything did isn't the truth and will always understand the papacy is a servant of Christ and His Church, not the master.


rcg said...

I suspect the four cardinals feel the same as you do, FrAJM. I also think that they feel required to do this or appear to support confusing ideas that come from the situation. The implication here is that they may have privately tried to get clarifying statements from Pope Francis and failed.

James said...

L'Osservatore Romano photo service has some charming pictures of Cardinal Burke's audience with the Pope last Thursday:

Maybe I'm being naive, but the smiley photos don't fit in with the media story of them being locked in conflict.

Given that the meeting occurred four days before the media ran the story, it looks like there are two possibilities: either Cardinal Burke raised the issue of the cardinals' letter and their intention to go public, and the pope didn't object; or he didn't raise the issue at all. The second option seems like very sneaky behaviour, and certainly not characteristic of Cardinal Burke. So we have to assume that the pope knew about and didn't object to the cardinals going public.

Victor said...

Fr M:
"... I see it as further polarizing the Church and pushing the vulnerable away from the full communion of the Church under the pope."

These Cardinals are not polarising the Church more. They are bringing out the polaristion that is already there; nay, it is the Holy Father who is polarising the Church more by not responding to the valid and crucial criticism of these cardinals. His hardness of heart attitude towards various parts of the Church is playing with schism.

Anonymous said...

Reports from the synod said that Pope Francis went into a rage when the thirteen cardinals wrote the last letter. Just imagine what is happening in the casa Santa Martha? Lamps and chairs must be flying. I sure hope that someone doesn't get so upset that they have a stroke. That would be horrible. Pope Benedict should have also signed that letter. That would have been the cherry on the top. It is so nice to see some clerics have a backbone. But it would be great to see the entire episcopate of Poland and of every country in Africa to also have signed that letter. But brick by brick. Just knowing that Francis is enraged by this is like a little kiss from Jesus. Christmas is around the corner just imagine the speech to the Curia this year. Those bishops need to get up and walk out the room when Francis starts his hizzy tizz.

Anonymous said...

"This seems unprecedented to me, although I do know that cardinals and bishops openly disagreed with Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, but the challenge was never as overt and stinging as what the four Cardinals have done."

The difference is that those cardinals who disagreed with Paul VI on Humanae Vitae would have been asking the pope to abandon perennial Church doctrine. Whereas those today who disagree with Francis on Amoris Latitia are asking the pope NOT to abandon perennial Church doctrine.

What's unprecedented is that none of the previous 265 popes has ever consistently appeared to undermine perennial Church doctrine.

Jusadbellum said...

As a student of history, all this just makes me very tired and very sad.

It's as though the Church is doomed in this valley of tears to always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Every. damn. time.

So starting with the Roman era, in the 3rd century, the Romans had ships large enough to haul 50 ton granite oblisks from Egypt all the way to Rome for decoration...they had 300 ton grain ships and figured out how to navigate between Egypt and Italy... they COULD have sent missionaries around Africa, across the North America, etc. had they been united.

Instead from 313 to the collapse and conquest of Rome, there was non-stop heresies, turmoil, civil wars, and insurrections even as the Church consolidated in the intermissions....

After Spain and Portugal conquered the first global empires and began to export the faith to tens of millions across the globe.... their success bred complacency and corruption. The first 150 years of the New World brought incredible advances of civilization, establishing missions and spreading the faith....but again it wasn't sustained. By 17th century things stagnated and corruption set in - slavery and loss of the faith to de-facto neo-paganism.

When Islam was all but vanquished after 1920.... instead of a great missionary effort, the victorious Europeans gave themselves over to practical atheism, materialism and hedonism leaving only the Muslims with any sense of religious fervor and the local Christian populations still unarmed and unsupported.

Now huge numbers of our clergy and religious are still clinging to Marxist worldviews with respect to the poor, economics, and how government ought to function on behalf of society and so yet again we miss all manner of opportunities to advance the Gospel inasmuch as in their desire for socialism they have to downplay any resistance to the culture war (sexual and socialist revolutions are intermingled).

It's just sad. I read National Catholic Reporter, America, Commonweal, get a sense of what the Liberal/socialist Catholics are thinking. It's all essentially about neo-Gnosticism, hedonism (LGBTQ), materialism (economic poverty = holiness of life and yet.... they want to eliminate poverty which would mean lifting these godly poor out of godliness????) It's a weird white person's world of racial guilt and racial idolatry (brown/black/yellow people are morally superior because of skin color and white racism see, and this isn't at all to perpetuate racism????). Their boogie men are racist, sexist, bigots, homophobes, Islamophobes...and yet the people most obsessed with race, sex, gays, and Muslims are themselves!

The meek will inherit the earth to be sure, but it'll be from the ruins when it could have been from our strength.

So sure, Trump won, I'm happy (for now) but the Church is a mess and our culture is not out of the woods by a long shot. We've at most got 3 years to 'relax' before the wheels come off. And when/if they do, are THESE the sorts of people who will be able to care for the poor when the music stops? No.

TJM said...


You nailed it. Santita needs to correct his statement or resign.

Anonymous said...

"Reports from the synod said that Pope Francis went into a rage when the thirteen cardinals wrote the last letter. Just imagine what is happening in the casa Santa Martha? Lamps and chairs must be flying."

Reports? What reports? From whom? Unnamed sources?

This is more of the same hysteria that gives us "reports" of a letter imaginarily written by Benedict XVI concerning his illicit/invalid abdication.

If you want to talk about rot in the Church, start with this kind of rot.

Mark Thomas said...

When Amoris Laetitia was presented publicly, Raymond Cardinal Burke assured us that AL was orthodox. Cardinal Burke insisted that Amoris Laetitia was the "fruit" of the Synod of Bishops, whose work he praised.

Cardinal Burke denounced those who had presented AL as having departed from Church teaching.

Cardinal Burke said the following:

"The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.

"Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful and potentially a source of scandal, not only for the faithful but for others of goodwill who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.

"It is also a disservice to the nature of the document as the fruit of the Synod of Bishops, a meeting of bishops representing the universal Church “to assist the Roman pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world” (Canon 342).

"In other words, it would be a contradiction of the work of the Synod of Bishops to set in motion confusion regarding what the Church teaches, safeguards and fosters by her discipline."

Cardinal Burke insisted that Amoris Laetitia was not a magisterial document. He insisted that Amoris Laetitia, "a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time."


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

Upon its public release, Raymond Cardinal Burke insisted that Amoris Laetitia was orthodox. For that, he drew the wrath of many "traditional" Catholics.

Prior to that time, certain "traditional" Catholics had presented the narrative that Cardinal Burke opposed Pope Francis. Cardinal Burke championed supposedly the movement to "recognize but resist" Pope Francis.

However, when he insisted that AL was orthodox, said right-wingers turned viciously upon Cardinal Burke. They labeled him a "Novus Ordo sellout. They even issued vile statements in regard to his sexual orientation.

The Remnant, for example, denounced Cardinal Burke (and additional Cardinals and bishops) for his having presented AL as orthodox. The Remnant insisted that Cardinal Burke was to be counted among "foolish bishops" who, in turned, had played us as fools.

From: The Remnant

"Amoris Laetitia: Foolish Bishops and Bishops Playing Us For Fools"

"Whereas Cupich at least recognized that the exhortation allows for unrepentant adulterers to receive Holy Communion, our “conservative” bishops still seem to be in abject denial. Archbishop Chaput apparently lives in alternate reality, along with our friends Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider.

"In this new conservative escapist reality, Francis didn’t just allow for sacrilegious Communion, upend Catholic teaching on mortal sin, introduce situational ethics into an official Church document, and destroy the underpinnings of three sacraments (marriage, penance, Eucharist).

"No. To them, Francis’ explicit contradiction of Church doctrine and the moral law is simply imagined to be “ambiguous” or a “misread.”

The Remnant added the following in regard to Cardinal Burke (and each person who did not accept The Remnant's claim that Amoris Laetitia was heretical:

"The prayer should rather read, “Thus we pray that the anti-Christian vision of marriage that infects this document will spark a revolution against it that begins with the conversion to the Catholic Faith of all time.”

"I pray this prayer for Bishop Schneider, Cardinal Burke, and all of our bishops. For the time is growing near where there will no longer be any choice but resistance or apostasy."

Does Cardinal Burke support his initial analysis that Amoris Laetitia is orthodox? Or has he thrown in with the right-wing's (such as The Remnant) analysis of Amoris Laetitia?


Mark Thomas

Jusadbellum said...

How much does ANY document really, when all's said and done, matter?

The Protestant world almost immediately accepted the idea that men could divorce their wives and remarry (repeatedly) when the only 'document' they had to go on was the Bible.

The 2nd century Gnostics constructed their entire convoluted cosmology on a twisted reading of St. John's Gospel.

So it's not the any document but the people's desire to do their own will and ex post facto justify it that we must consider.

Suppose someone rang your door bell and when you opened the door he announced that "according to this here piece of paper, your home belongs to me". Would you immediately pack your bags? Would you care what the piece of paper looked like? At a minimum you'd ask "on whose authority do you come"?

Probably you'd refuse the man's request and tell him to remove himself from your property pending a court case.

In the letter of Jude we're actually warned about people coming among the Christian faithful with a new gospel proclaiming a new message that justifies sins against God almighty. We are not to blindly follow them just because they wave a piece of paper before our eyes.

Insofar as AL can be construed differently and is thus vague, no one can command anyone to change past Church teaching (doctrine or pastoral practice) on the premise that what's vague is suddenly clear. If it's vague then it can't possibly be clear and the man with the paper demanding you vacate your home must be turned out, politely, and told to come back only with a clear mandate (and an army).

TJM said...

Mark Thomas,

Well Cardinal Burke had to step back in because left-wing loon clerics (your buddies) twisted AL to fit their agenda rather than the truth of Holy Church. Face it: Francis is no intellect, no match for Benedict or John Paul II. He's a lightweight who will leave the Church a wreck by the time he is taking a dirt nap. Can't you write succinctly? It's like diarrhea running over the page when you express yourself

Mark Thomas said...

From a National Catholic Register interview with Cardinal Burke that was published today.

National Catholic Register: "What happens if the Holy Father does not respond to your act of justice and charity and fails to give the clarification of the Church’s teaching that you hope to achieve?"

Cardinal Burke: "Then we would have to address that situation. There is, in the Tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare.


"But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error."



Mark Thomas

Anonymous 2 said...


"Comments that are derogatory of the Faith or insulting to others will not be published, especially name calling or disrespect shown to clergy or laity."

Your last post at 2:46 pm attacking Mark Thomas angers me. I see you are still at it—unleashing ad hominem insults (a sure sign of someone with weak arguments). You do this to anyone who disagrees with you and you call them a faux Catholic or some other slur. How Catholic is it to engage in such discourse, or should I say dis-coarse? Can’t_you_keep a civil tongue in your head? If Father McDonald will not police the posts, the rest of us will have to.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 - These things don't matter to either Fr. McDonald or TJM or the others who engage in personal attacks. Making insulting remarks is there stock-in-trade for precisely the reason you note: they have no real, substantial arguments to make.

Fr. McDonald thinks it's "cute" to let this sort of thing go on mainly because it brigs views to his blog. If it were a blog of substance, he would not have to depend on the TJM's and the Gene's of the world to keep it interesting.

TJM said...

Anonymous 2 and Anonymous,

Start your own blog and you can ban anyone you want. So gob was all goodness and light? Lefties are only unhappy when they are on the receiving end of what they dish out.

Anonymous said...

TJM - Start your own blog so you can bloviate and misrepresent the Faith all you want. Fr. McDonald is under no compunction to allow your vitriol to be poured out here.

You continual insults, your derogatory comments about the Holy Father, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, and just about anyone else who does not agree with your peculiar view of the Faith and of the world are your own undoing.

Comparing yourself to gob is, no surprise here, highly accurate.

Anonymous 2 said...


You overlook a fundamental distinction (and the fact that you overlook it may explain much about your own posts)—the distinction between the sin and the sinner, between the act and the doer. I do not want to “ban” you, just your vitriol.

Gene said...

Anon 2, The concept of sin is not that simple. Scripture, both OT and NT, understand that man cannot be separated from his actions. All this feel good talk about "hate the sin, love the sinner" introduces a false dichotomy. The whole man acts, though his acts are tainted by sin. When Paul says that his sinful actions are due to "sin that dwelleth in me," and that it is not the true Paul acting in such a way, he is saying that, although it is the whole man acting, sin has sway over those actions and it dwells in him like a disease. He is not introducing some schizophrenic notion of the person. We cannot be separated from our actions. Thus, Christ redeems the whole man, not just the sinful part.