Pope Francis demotes outspoken American conservative Cardinal Burke

November 10, 2014
(Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke leads a Holy Mass in the chapel of the Vatican Governorate to mark the opening of the Judicial Year of the Tribunal of Vatican City at the Vatican, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

(Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke leads a Holy Mass in the chapel of the Vatican Governorate, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Pope Francis on Saturday demoted an outspoken conservative American cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s reformist leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, 66, was removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court and appointed to the ceremonial post of chaplain of the charity group Knights of Malta.

The move, which the Vatican announced on Saturday without comment, had been expected. Burke said last month he had been told he would move to a new job but did not know when.

Burke, who until Saturday was the highest-ranking American in the Vatican, gave a series of recent interviews criticizing the pope and had emerged as the face of conservative opposition to Francis’ reform agenda.

In an interview with a Spanish magazine last month, Burke, known for his unbending interpretation of doctrine, compared the Catholic Church under Francis to “a ship without a rudder”.

At a meeting of bishops from around the world last month, Burke was the flag-bearer for conservatives opposed to the Church adopting a more welcoming attitude towards homosexuals.

Burke has publicly clashed with the pope several times since the Argentine pontiff’s election in 2013 and Vatican sources have said the pope saw Burke’s outspokenness as part of the so-called “culture wars” among Catholics that he wants to avoid.

During the synod, Burke assailed German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who had argued that the Church should modify teachings that ban Catholics who have divorced and then remarried in civil services from receiving communion.

Burke was also highly critical of an interim synod document that had talked more positively of homosexuals than ever before in Church history.

Shocked by the language, Burke and other conservative bishops spearheaded a campaign that led to a much watered-down version in the gathering’s final statement.

It was the second time in less than a year that the pope had sidelined Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis. Last December he removed Burke from the board of the influential Vatican department that handles the appointment of bishops.

Burke said last month he would be disappointed to leave his post at the top Vatican court, which oversees the administration of justice in the Church and hears appeals from lower Church tribunals, but would obey the pope’s orders.

via Pope demotes outspoken American conservative cardinal | Reuters.

12 comments

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Nice to hear Burke is getting his come-uppances. The arrogant snot.

We were happy to see him exiled from St. Louis – he has all of the compassion and charisma of Dick Cheney. St. Louis has been riddled with pedophile priest scandals, cover-ups, and downright out-of-touch church leaders. Burke can steadfastly hold his idelological line somewhere else than St. Louis.

Now, hopefully, he will be stripped of the ability to cover up more scandals, wherever the good Pope chooses to assign him.

Posted by CecilNixxon | Report as abusive

I agree with the pope for demoting Cardinal Burke. But, the hats have to go.

Posted by star_messenger | Report as abusive

Demote him back to Alter boy.

Posted by EchoTony | Report as abusive

With all due respect, in my church, the average age is 75+, some voted for FDR in his last run. These “catholics” call themselves the real catholics, and have a serious “us v. them” attitude. That is fine if these “catholics” are the majority in a growing US church, then are NOT. The US and western churches appear by all accounts to be graying, and passing, in decline. Strident NeoCon dogma from Burke and Dolan are so completely out-of-line as to be laughable. The US is a secular country, not christian, not muslin, hindi, etc. The US church has enjoyed multi-generational support, but that is over. Pope Francis is reflecting the true demographics of the church today, latin, hispanic, african and asian. Anglos in the US as in the political demo as well as in the church are a diminishing and vanishing group. Their time has past, church teachings do change from Christ’s time to today. The WWIIer’s generation has lived longer and held power longer then any generation prior, ANY. It is time, more than time for serious generational change. All things have a infinite live cycle. Anglo WWIIers in the US both in the church and in politics are and have reached theirs.

Posted by ac789962 | Report as abusive

Pope Francis on Saturday demoted an outspoken conservative American cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s reformist leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, who until Saturday was the highest-ranking American in the Vatican, gave a series of recent interviews criticizing the pope and had emerged as the face of conservative opposition to Francis’ reform agenda. Last December Pope Francis removed Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke from the board of the influential Vatican department that handles the appointment of bishops. Burke also to leave his post at the top Vatican court, which oversees the administration of justice in the Church and hears appeals from lower Church tribunals.

Now if we can get rid of Clarence Thomas from the US Supreme Court….

Posted by 111Dave111 | Report as abusive

*claps enthusiastically at Pope Francis* As a person who left the Church for its lack of compassion and unwillingness to evolve with the people it serves, I am thrilled to see a Pope finally taking charge and doing the right thing. The Church’s job is not to judge, but to accept. Just as Jesus did.

Posted by FactChecker101 | Report as abusive

Go Frankie! You de man.

Posted by Hugorelly | Report as abusive

I guess the thing to remember is that the Vatican is not a Democratic republic. Tow the line or get out of the way basically.

Posted by LazSwann | Report as abusive

He’s going to obey the Pope’s orders? That sounds as though he has a choice. He doesn’t.

Posted by melgross | Report as abusive

I don’t grudge the Cardinal the right to have conservative views, but if someone was promoted in a company and tried to undermine the CEO and made public statements that were a thinly disguised condemnation of how he was doing his job, they would be fired immediately.
For all I know, he may be right that Pope Francis is governing the Church like a ship without a rudder.He doesn’t strike me as a particularly deep thinking theologian type. Presumably Burke is implying that he would act as the rudder for the church. But he needs to remember that even the Titanic had a rudder and was steering in a very straight line.
There are some serious concerns about Cardinal Burke and excessive attachment to superficial things like hyper expensive exotic robes and vestments, ultra-traditional ceremonies like the pre-Vat II Latin Mass. He just gives a very strong impression that he puts religion ahead of faith.

Posted by DavidPun | Report as abusive

Most think Burke and his ilk are in a hissy-fit because they think Pope Francis is going soft on gays and threatening the old-fashioned rules. As far as I can tell, the new Pope hasn’t said a word about changing current rules. He has simply stated that the Church needs to stop with the theology of hate which has existed for about 1,800 years. What really has Burke and his buddies worked up is comments like “unbridled capitalism”. In other words, Francis is calling out the filthy rich (Burke’s buddies) and challenging them to show some generosity. Burke is afraid he might have to move out of his mansion, give up his chauffeur-driven limousine and fly back and forth between the US and Rome in coach rather than first class.
The Pope should do Burke a favor and send him to the missions so he can get to understand Christ before he meets Him face-to-face.

Posted by ndfansince53 | Report as abusive

This Pope is pandering to the politically correct. He is running in a popularity contest.

Cecil Nixxon, you speak of pedophile priest scandals yet 80% the abused children – 80 to 90% of which were male – were adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17. That is not pedophilia…that is homosexuality. The overwhelming majority of abusive priests were gay…not pedophiles. Read the John Jay report.

Posted by dartemis | Report as abusive