Card. Burke’s contribution at the Synod of Bishops: “antinomianism …infected post-Council ecclesial life”

His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke, distinguished canonist and head of the Church’s “Supreme Court” gave his contribution to the Synod of Bishops.  The theme he touched on, all too briefly, alas, was topic also examined at a canon law conference I attended a a few years ago, an annual conference now which Card. Burke organizes at the Shrine in LaCrosse, WI.

– H. Em. Rev. Card. Raymond Leo BURKE, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (VATICAN CITY)

The Instrumentum Laboris reminds us that witness to the Christian faith is a valid response to the pressing problems of life in every age and culture, especially because that witness overcomes the false separation existing between the Gospel and life (cf. no. 118). However, so that witness to the faith will have a place, which today’s world urgently needs, cohesion is needed within the Church between life and faith.  [We must be coherent.  We must live our Catholic identity at all times, not just in private or in worship.]
Among the most serious wounds of society today is the separation of legal culture from its metaphysical objective, which is moral law. [BINGO. Think of this also in terms of the virtue of religion.] In recent times this separation has been much accentuated, manifesting itself as a real antinomianism, which claims [in error] to render actions which are intrinsically evil as legal, for example, abortion on demand, artificial conception of human life with the aim of carrying out experimentation on the life of a human embryo, the so-called euthanasia of those who have the right to our preferential assistance, legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriage, and the negation of the fundamental right to conscience and religious liberty.  [Have you ever heard a Catholic politician defend abortion because its “legal”?]
This antinomianism embedded in civil society has unfortunately infected post-Council ecclesial life, [NB: “post-Council”] associating itself, regrettably, with so-called cultural novelties. Excitement following the Council, linked to the establishment of a new Church which teaches freedom and love, has strongly encouraged an attitude of indifference towards Church discipline, if not even hostility. The reforms of ecclesial life which were hoped for by the Council Fathers were therefore, in a certain sense, hindered, if not betrayed.
Devoted to present-day new evangelization, we have the task of laying the foundation for awareness of the disciplinary tradition of the Church and respect of the law in the Church. An interest in [NB] the discipline of the Church is not to be equated with an idea contrary to the mission of the Church in the world, but to a correct attention to cohesively witnessing to faith in the world. This service, certainly humble, of Church Canon Law is also absolutely necessary. How indeed will we be able to witness our faith in the world if we ignore or neglect the demands of justice within the Church? Salvation of the soul, the primary goal of a new evangelization, must also always be in the Church “the supreme law” (can. 1752).

Fr Z kudos to Card. Burke.

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  1. tealady24 says:

    I agree in total.
    Whatever feels good, by all means do it! The Church has truly lost her way and my one concern is just how many “Catholics” read things like this, and agree with them? It’s all about being ‘me’ at Mass, the beauty and piety of the liturgy seems to be a thing of the past.

  2. Andkaras says:

    Cardinal Burke gets to the heart of things ,dosen’t he? The majority of catholics don’t seem to understand this aspect of their faith, hence their seeming inability to respond to the world’s insinuations .

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    The other day we had a visiting (Byzantine) priest to speak about Vatican II. It was an awful talk! The hatred for anything “pre-conciliar” was most evident. He said that the old Church was “severe,dogmatic, clerical, and juridical”. He said we are no longer only concerned with the salvation of souls because we have a ‘new spirituality’ and a ‘new way of being church’ and so on.

    I had to speak up especially he said more than once that we are no longer concerned about the salvation of souls but rather the ‘whole person’ so we need social justice. I had to challenge that we are indeed concerned with the salvation of souls for we are bound for eternity. The goals of VII, while noble, have yet to be achieved. We have the corruption and destruction of so many orders, decades of non-catechesis, millions left the church and many of those left do not know beans about their faith. He summarily dismissed this.

    This man and his wife teach at the seminary! The wife posts her favor for the obamination on her facebook page and this priest, at least in 2008, had a ‘catholics for obama’ bumper sticker on his car. I was very very sad to learn they teach at seminary as our old seminary had to be closed and a new one established to get rid of dissenters. I can only hope that somehow God uses this so that seminarians can learn how to deal with dissent when they meet it in their futures parishes???

  4. Sixupman says:

    Did my sight deceive me? +++Cardinal Burke stated: … “Excitement following the Council linked to the establishment of a new Church ……….. .”. Is that not redolent of the phrase considered objectionable by the Conciliars when utilised by elements of the Trads – “Nuchurch”? Oh dear me!

  5. acricketchirps says:

    Well, I’ve noticed that progressive erstwhile antinomians are all about discipline and conformity once they have things set up their way.

  6. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    I am bemused or confused. I thought that in the United States priests of the
    Byzantine rite were required to observe celibacy just as Latin-rite priests are.

  7. smad0142 says:


    Ukrainian Catholic here myself. I know exactly the Priest whom you are talking about. He was a visiting professor at Regis University this past spring. Him and I went toe to toe on many issues in the classroom. Unfortunately, it seems, that Romans give Easterners a pass too often. The Priest is an avowed socialist and favors the “emerging church” movement. It is simply awful. He did speak postively of the Lutheran House of Saints and Sinners here in town, blech. That is enough to tell you about the Priest. Rant over, and Lord have mercy!

  8. teomatteo says:

    “An interest in [NB] the discipline of the Church is not to be equated with an idea contrary to the mission of the Church in the world, but to a correct attention to cohesively witnessing to faith in the world. ”
    could someone kindly explain this to me…. i’m not getten it and Father has NB’d it.. thanks

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    “Among the most serious wounds of society today is the separation of legal culture from its metaphysical objective, which is moral law.”

    Absolutely. But healing the wound consists not merely in coming up with a new set of arguments or things to say. Everyone always wants to say something, but no. Talk is cheap. It’s about recovering a way to LIVE. Being Catholic isn’t only about saying things. It’s not even only about showing up for Church on Sunday, although what it’s about certainly INCLUDES that. It’s that and more, much more.

    If we decide that instead of just being legalistic, we are also moralistic in a legalistic fashion, which is exactly what people want to do, then nothing has been done. Morals are first of all LIVED.

  10. Clinton R. says:

    “Excitement following the Council, linked to the establishment of a new Church…”

    Sums up what most of us Traditional Catholics know, that so many liberals and modernists saw Vatican II as the vehicle to reform the Church in their image. And because of Vatican II’s lack of anathemas, they have by and large gotten away with it and remain in good standing with the Church. So much poison has been injected into the Bride of Christ, it makes me want to weep. May Our Lord Bless the Church and may His servant, Pope Benedict XVI restore holiness and tradition back to the Church Militant. +JMJ+

  11. Alan Aversa says:

    Has Card. Burke ever opined on if or how the Church supplies the SSPX jurisdiction?


  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Is this an historical as well as an etymological use of ‘antinomianism’? For, as His Eminence says, this is a matter of “legal culture”, “legal recognition”, and indeed “negation of […] right” – as he implies and might have added, by “civil” legal imposition. And, as acricketchirps well says, it is ” all about discipline and conformity once they [“erstwhile antinomians”] have things set up their way.”

    But there is not simply a substitution of (state-power-backed) ‘positive law’ for “moral law”, but also (often, if not always) – both in “civil society” and “ecclesial life” – a pretension of ‘higher moral law’. As Oliver Brand says in Benson’s Lord of the World (I.iii), ” Why, you know in your heart that the euthanatisers are the real priests. Of course you do.” And it is variously a pretension to ‘intuition’, íntellect’/’reason’, pneumaticism (‘surely, the Spirit leading us into all truth as promised’, etc., etc.). As C.S. Lewis said, “On those who add ‘Thus said the Lord’ to their merely human utterances descends the doom of a conscience that seems clearer and clearer the more it is loaded with sin.” And is this not as true of those who ground their pseudo-certainties on “Love” or “Justice” (etc.)?

    I would (under correction!) gloss, “An interest in [NB] the discipline of the Church is not to be [seen falsely in terms of ‘the letter of the law’ in such a way as to be] equated with an idea contrary to the mission of the Church in the world [seen in terms of ‘spirit’ or ‘Spirit’ opposed to ‘dead letter’], but to a correct attention to cohesively witnessing to faith in the world. ”

    “Discipline” is subject to scrutiny and correction, but must be guarded from being made to conform to pretenders to pseudo-higher-moral- or spiritual-law.

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