Card. Burke: Vatican puppetmaster?

From Italian journalist Marco Tosati on the Vatican Insider of the Italian daily La Stampa comes this.

Raymond Leo Burke, the “great puppeteer” of American appointees

The appointment of Chaput to the Diocese of Philadelphia confirms Burke’s role as the Pope’s trusted man in the US
marco tosatti

The nomination of Charles Chaput, Native American bishop from Denver, to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirms Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as Benedict XVI’s top advisor in the United States. One of the first signs of his role as a bridge between the influential United States Conference of Bishops and the pontifical apartment was the appointment of Timothy Michael Dolan as successor to Cardinal Edward Egan in New York.

Dolan, who is currently conducting a vigorous and efficient battle against the increasingly anti-Catholic positions of the New York Times (which a few months ago refused to publish his reply to a polemical article against the Church) is certainly in sympathy with Burke, and with the American bishops who must face new initiatives from the Obama presidency every day.  [“Efficient” is perhaps more a more optimistic adjective than I would have chosen.]

Raymond Leo Burke tried to warn anyone in the Vatican who wanted to listen (as well as those who turned a deaf ear) that Obama would be a disaster for traditional values – family, marriage, abortion, and so on – but no one believed him. [That seems to be the case.] Bertone was optimistic, and L’Osservatore Romano, the voice of the Secretary of State’s office (and, especially at this time, the Secretary of State himself), had given an impressive welcome to the first African-American President.

Burke, a man accustomed to calling things as he sees them, and “saying” more than “praying,” [I don’t believe that is an accurate characterization. in the first place.  Moreover, in the Italian original we find “abituato a dire pane al pane”, which is part of a saying “dire pane al pane e vino al vino”, which is like saying “call a spade a spade”.] showed no hesitation in expressing his opinions, to the point where the Secretary of State received [beware] a courteous request to stop releasing interviews that were negative and critical toward the new President. [I don’t know who did this translation but it is not great.  The Italian says that a request arrived from the Secretariate of State.  Rather different, no?]

Perhaps someone will start to believe Burke, now that the American ambassador to Rome (just like his colleagues around the world) has, at Washington’s behest, become a promoter of gay parades and other events – even in Pakistan – where Benedict XVI is represented in a vulgar and offensive manner.

But someone (or Someone with a capital “S”) in the Vatican holds the frankness and clarity of vision of the head of the Vatican Supreme Court, in high esteem.

Someone knows – and benefits from – his deep knowledge of people and things overseas, and his ability to identify solutions in terms of candidates for dioceses that are gradually freeing themselves [sigh… liberersi… “fall vacant”, not “freeing themselves”…], in a Church still shaken by the financial and public relations aftershocks of the paedophilia scandal.

Charles Chaput was initially supposed to be appointed as Archbishop of Chicago, [Oh?] replacing the ill Cardinal George in the great lakeside diocese. But fortunately, the head of the diocese still feels able to manage his role with dignity and efficiency, when his illness is not acting up. Thus it is not at all certain when he will need to be replaced.

This uncertainty has not escaped many in the Curia: it is believed, especially by Burke, that Chaput will shortly be assured a diocese that will rather rapidly (some sources say a Consistory will be held at the end of this year or the beginning of the next) [I’ll believe it when I see it.] win him the cardinal’s berretta. [How does a cardinal’s berretta or beretta differ from that of an ordinary priest or bishop?  For proper liturgical use of the beretta, try this.]

According to rumours flying around, behind the Leonine Wall during John Paul II’s pontificate, and in the first years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, one of the great “puppeteers” of the appointment of overseas bishops was the current prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop James Michael Harvey. He seems to still be hanging onto the role, but – if one believes certain sources – it has been greatly reduced with the arrival of Raymond Leo Burke. The next few months brings a deadline for many American bishops; then we will see what influence the new prefect for bishops – Canadian Marc Ouellette – and Burke himself will have in changing the episcopal face of the Stars and Stripes.

This chatty Italian style doesn’t transfer well into English, unless you are 16.  And in many points – I  pointed to a few – the translation was just plain wrong.  But the essential message is clear.  Marco Tosati believes that Card. Burke is guiding the important appointments for the USA.

I direct you back to two proposals I made about the appointment of bishops.

PROPOSAL 1: Stop, now, and say a prayer to the guardian angels of those who must make these decisions.

PROPOSAL 2: If your diocese is presently “sede vacante“, for each minute of gossip and even of speculation – which will go on anyway – spend 10 in prayer.

These are difficult times.  The devil is abroad and has great wrath.  The appointment of bishops is always important and difficult.

The bigger the see, the more important the choice, as we have seen to our great consternation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. This strikes me as very wrong. Burke and Dolan are both orthodox churchmen, but seem to have totally different approaches and personalities.

    How does a cardinal’s berretta or beretta differ from that of an ordinary priest or bishop?

    Presumably they vary in decoration and appointments in the same manner as the buckles on the shoes:

    The buckles of the shoes beretta decoration and appointments, for the inferior members of the clergy and the officers of the church, are made of polished steel; and for priests, monks, and Prelates belonging to Religious Orders, of silver. Gold or gilded silver buckles decoration and appointments are reserved for secular Prelates.

  2. disco says:

    A Cardinal’s beretta is always loaded with red bullets, of course.

  3. Charles Chaput was initially supposed to be appointed as Archbishop of Chicago,

    Sandro Magister also suggested this:

    “Until June 30, for Philadelphia – in the place of Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, near retirement age – the leading candidate at the Vatican congregation for bishops was the current bishop of Louisville, Joseph E. Kurtz. ….. But at the last moment, the congregation for bishops opted for Chaput instead of Kurtz, preferring to promote the former to Philadelphia immediately instead of waiting for Cardinal George to leave Chicago free for him, in a couple of years.”

  4. incorpore says:

    I’ve been reading the “Vatican Insider” in English for a few weeks now and have been amazed repeatedly at the poor translations and mistakes within. But I suppose I deserve what I get while scratching around for what is sometimes gossip :)

  5. Marcin says:

    A Cardinal’s beretta is always loaded with red bullets, of course.

    Let’s not forget that cappa magna alone can blind many.

  6. basilorat says:

    There is no doubt Cardinal Burke is highly influential in the Vatican. I had inclinations that the Chaput appointment was influenced by Burke. That was confirmed when I found out that the Holy Father is consecrating the world’s youth at WYD in Madrid to the Sacred Heart of Jesus! THAT is a R.L. Card. Burke devotion! Anyone who knows him or been around him knows that Card. Burke is wholeheartedly DEVOTED to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Holy Father has no real connection to that devotion. It’s not a German devotion, and there’s no indication that there’s any history of that devotion in his background. I sincerely believe that Card. Burke is a quiet but firm and respected presence in the Vatican, Deo Gratias. He’s the most selfless man and bishop I’ve ever, ever met!

  7. Brooklyn says:

    The comment about Cardinal Burke recommending Archbishop Dolan for the NYC spot surprises me. I do hope that this recommendation will work out better for Philadelphia. Archbishop Dolan is so busy trying to make everyone like him that he has ended up with everyone angry with him. My prayer for him and all bishops is that they will be able to call sin what it is, for the sake of all souls. I feel confident that Archbishop Chaput will stand strong. I have nothing but the very highest respect for Cardinal Burke. He has never been afraid to speak out on behalf of what is right.

  8. TNCath says:

    Do not forget the predictions of James Francis Cardinal Stafford, retired Prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary and former Archbishop of DENVER, who predicted in a speech at Catholic University that, with in the Obama administration, “For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden.” Cardinal Stafford went on to say that Obama was “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.” Not long after that, Cardinal Stafford was summarily retired from his post.

    Bottom line: Cardinal Bertone had been trying to be Obama-friendly, and Cardinal Stafford was clearly drinking the Kool-Aid. Thank God Cardinal Burke has taken up where Cardinal Stafford left off. And thank God, Cardinal Stafford (as well as Cardinal Burke) still sits on the Congregation of Bishops who certainly had a hand in the transfer of Archbishop Chaput from Denver to Philadephia.

  9. TNCath says:

    Correction: “Cardinal Stafford was NOT drinking the Kool-Aid.”

  10. Gregorius says:

    Behold, the cardinal’s Beretta:

    The Holy Father used to give these out at consistories, but since Vatican II this venerable tradition fell out of practice. However, many cardinals still choose to have them made for themselves, in order for the tradition to continue. In fact, a couple of months ago somebody snapped a photo of H.E. Cardinal Burke sporting one while wearing choir dress, also with cappa magna.
    Similar to the crosier and miter, the spare magazines are carried by vemps, where they are then given to the assisting deacons to give to the prelate. However, in the ordinary form of Holy Mass the prelate has the option of relegating such duties to one of the Deacons, who’s use of the beretta is relegated like any ordinary cleric.
    Finally, it is important to note that the prelate’s beretta is cleaned after the second time his hands are cleaned, and will often be done while other ministers are purifying the sacred vessels.

  11. I’m glad you looked at the Italian, Fr. Z. I had to do a double take several times as some sentences did not seem to go together correctly, especially the one about the “courteous resquest”.

  12. Catholic87 says:

    If there is to be any “puppet master” in the Vatican, Deo Gratias it his Eminence Cardinal Burke. Between him and Cardinal Ranjith, there are no two better Princes of the Church! : )

  13. Jon says:

    Between the death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI, every Office and rosary I said, every Mass at which I assisted, every prayer I uttered, every mortification I suffered, was offered that Joseph Ratzinger become the next pope.

    Whether it’s tomorrow or fifteen years from now, as improbable as it may seem, I urge all of you to begin doing the same on behalf Raymond Leo Burke.

  14. amenamen says:

    A puppetmaster and puppets,
    Singing the praises of the Vatican’s puppetmaster?

  15. jdskyles says:

    Please pray especially for the Ruthenian Archeparchy of Pittsburg, which has been without a bishop for over a year now since the passing of Metropolitan Basil Schott, eternal memory.

  16. benedictgal says:

    I only wish that Cardinal Burke had been around back in the year 2000 when we became our own diocese. Maybe things would have worked out much better for us. After 11 years, we have not progressed. We are certainly experiencing a vale of tears in this desert.

  17. Clinton says:

    Wait a minute! According to the Fishwrap and others, wasn’t Cardinal Burke
    transferred from his stateside archdiocese to his post at the Apostolic Signatura
    mostly to kick him upstairs and keep him out of any position of influence?

    Count on the Fishwrap to once again confuse its own wishful thinking with fact.

  18. ContraMundum says:

    I prefer the idea of Chaput being given a metal-rimmed romano.

  19. JonPatrick says:

    I love the way the Church still has impressive titles for its hierarchy – “prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura” has to be one of the best :-)

  20. James says:

    While I appreciate the fact that Cardinal Burke is advising the Holy Father on the res Americae, I don’t appreciate his being ascribed the title “puppetmaster.”

  21. Athelstan says:

    Wait a minute! According to the Fishwrap and others, wasn’t Cardinal Burke
    transferred from his stateside archdiocese to his post at the Apostolic Signatura
    mostly to kick him upstairs and keep him out of any position of influence?

    That actually may have been what happened, according to my sources, but it doesn’t seem to have quite worked out the way certain people hoped.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Any prominent American Cardinal working in the Vatican, esp. one appointed by a reigning pope, will have a say in decisions made for the the US, so I don’t doubt that Card Burke has influence. Abp Dolan, however, was already a known commodity in Rome because he was rector of NAC from 94 to 01.

    Even more importantly, he was Card Rigali’s man, and R has had more influence in the Vatican than any American in history. NB:

    1. Dolan was R’s man to take over at NAC.

    2. Burke succeeded Rigali in St Louis.

    3. It is unlikely that Chaput would have been named to Philly if R had objected. And with Ouellet now being at Bishops there would have been no objection from the Prefect.

  23. Dr. Eric says:

    As long as we get Bishop Perry for our diocese when our bishop is moved to a more important See, I’ll be happy.

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