A lot of you are asking by email my take on Pope Francis’ not confirming Card. Burke as a member of the Congregations for Bishops and for Saints.
The fact is that the members of these Congregations are routinely shifted around. Do I like the fact that Card. Burke and some others are no longer members? Not much, no. However, I don’t think it is wise to have a spittle-flecked nutty about it.
Some people are turning this into some sort of papal pogrom against conservative cardinals. I can’t rule that out. We could also look at it more benignly. After all, His Eminence Card. Burke is still young for a cardinal. He is still the Prefect of the Segnatura. He is still able to get on airplanes, etc. Having fewer meetings to go to also gives him more time to write and more flexibility to give conferences.
What could the changes in the membership of the Congregation for Bishops mean? Again, I am not pleased at the loss of Card. Burke’s or Card. Bagnasco’s voices therein. It has been suggested that the Pope wants the nominations of more progressive bishops. That may be the case. However, under Francis, “progressive” shan’t mean what it did back in the day. That is to say, today “progressive” may mean something like doctrinally orthodox but little inclined to be strong and vocal in matters of doctrine or discipline. It may be that the identikit of the bishop is shifting in this pontificate. It might mean “nice guy” rather than … you know. It could be that the men who are lassoed into the ranks of the episcopate will tend not to be bold “culture warriors” in the service of clear, traditional Catholic doctrine and discipline. I think we need bold “culture warriors”, but I wasn’t consulted. Furthermore, they will more than likely be pretty nearly squeaky clean, if you get me drift.
Keep in mind that it takes a while to shift the identikit of the episcopacy. It can’t happen overnight. Men being made bishops now were probably already being studied during the reign of Benedict XVI. It takes time to collect possible candidates, create the dossiers, gather reports, mull them over, etc. It took John Paul II the better part of two decades to shift the episcopate around.
What we will not see, however, is a return to the age of the appointments of 70’s and 80’s types, that is, “culture warriors” pushing a liberal, secularizing, anti-traditional modernist agenda! Keep your eyes on who holds the office of Apostolic Nuncio in your country. They are probably more important in the process of selection of bishops than the members of the Congregation. I seriously doubt we will see the return of the likes of Archbishop Jadot. Quod Deus averruncet.
By the way, when you hear or read liberals whine about how men like Card. Burke or this or that sound bishop are “culture warriors” and that “culture warriors” are bad, deluded, harmful, blah blah blah, remember that those liberals are themselves “culture warriors”. They are being hypocritical when they slam conservatives as “culture warriors”. They are “culture warriors” for the opposition (which can sometimes include the Enemy). Their lamentation about conservative “culture warrior” bishops is a silencing tactic. They seek to bully brave bishops into silence so that they and they alone have free rein to war for their causes. Watch their slight of hand! They set up a model that they call “pastoral” and they pit “pastoral” against “traditional” or “conservative”. In their bearded-Spock universe, you can’t be both “pastoral” and “traditional”. If you are conservative, you don’t care about the sheep, etc. Only they really truly caaaare. Remember this when you see liberals complain about some bishop not being “civil” or that we need more “civility”. But I digress.
What else could the change in the membership in the Congregation for Bishops mean? As you know, Card. Wuerl was appointed to the Congregation. More than one person has suggested that the Pope is clearing the way for Card. Wuerl to be transferred from Washington DC to Rome to be in the Roman Curia. I don’t see that happening, but… hey!… who knows what is going to happen? Furthermore, more than one person has suggested to me that moving Wuerl to Rome and lightening Burke’s brief could signal an intention to move Burke back to the USA as Archbishop of Washington or Chicago. Again, I have a hard time imagining that, given His Eminence’s clear, repeated stand on canon 915. Were Pope Francis to make Card. Burke Archbishop of Washington DC, with all those pro-abortion catholic politicians in residence in his domain…. imagine the wailing and gnashing. We can dream. On the other hand, I really like and respect Card. Burke. I wouldn’t wish such a mandate on him.
So, let’s not panic about these changes of the memberships of congregations. Who knows? It could be that Card. Burke will be appointed as a member to other Congregations, such as the critically important Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Card. Burke is only 65. He can’t just be left doing nothing. It is unlikely that His Holiness will just shuffle His Eminence into oblivion. At the end of the day, Card. Burke is a CARDINAL and a young one at that.
It is hard to guess what our Pope is going to do next! It sure is an interesting ride.
Finally, I repeat here what I have written elsewhere.
The vision provided us by Benedict XVI is still as valid and necessary today as it ever was. Keep pushing forward with a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship no matter what. Do not flag. Do not be discouraged. Do not relent. Get organized. Recruit. Persuade. Provide. Demonstrate your joy in the use of the older, traditional forms as you call for even wider application of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, which is universal law. Excel in the performance of corporal and spiritual works of mercy even as you call for use of the traditional forms.
No efforts of New Evangelization or any other positive undertaking in the Church (ad intra or ad extra) will succeed without a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.
The combox moderation queue is switched on.
And former-Father Greg Reynolds is still excommunicated.