The Loosing of the Leash: Card. Burke appointed to Knights of Malta

And so the shoe has dropped. From today’s Bolletino.

Nomina del Patrono del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta

Il Santo Padre ha nominato Patrono del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta l’ Card. Raymond Leo Burke, finora Prefetto del Supremo Tribunale della Segnatura Apostolica.


Nomina del Prefetto del Supremo Tribunale della Segnatura Apostolica

Il Papa ha nominato Prefetto del Supremo Tribunale della Segnatura Apostolica S.E. Mons. Dominique Mamberti, Arcivescovo titolare di Sagona, finora Segretario per i Rapporti con gli Stati.

His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke is now Patron of the Knights of Malta. This is not the usual way of doing things, as it has been pointed out before. First, the position is usually saved for a Cardinal who is in the twilight of his career… although during this pontificate this may still be true. Keep in mind that, since His Eminence is pretty young for a Cardinal, in the next pontificate, another Pope could snap his fingers and make Burke Prefect of a Congregation. Second, now that Card. Burke is no longer the Prefect of a Dicastery, he is far freer to act and to speak than he was before. So far as I know, the Cardinal has retained, for now, his appointments to certain Congregations.

As far as Card. Burke’s successor at the Signatura is concerned, I suspect that His Excellency Archbp. Mamberti hasn’t seen a marriage case, or any other canonical process, for a while. He has been working as a diplomat for quite some time. He comes to his new role from the Secretariat of State. He will no doubt bring a … fresh perspective to the role.

That said, at Aletheia Card. Burke has his best interview to date:

Cardinal Burke: “I Don’t Ever Put Myself in Opposition to the Successor of St. Peter”

He makes some clarifications about suggestions that he has made himself an opponent of Pope Francis.   They go along the lines that you might imagine but with real clarity.  I pass over those here.  You can read them there.   I found of much greater interest his comments about the Synod.  My emphases:

At the Synod, when the interim report came out, some said it was a disaster.

It was a total disaster.

The final report noted the need for “sensitivity to the positive aspects” of civil marriages and, “with obvious differences, cohabitation.” The Church, it says, “needs to indicate the constructive elements in these situations.” The paragraph, number 41, passed the requisite two-thirds majority. Do you find it disturbing that this paragraph gained a two-thirds majority among the bishops? 

The language is at best confused, and I’m afraid that some of the Synod Fathers may not have reflected sufficiently on the implications of that, or maybe because the language is confused, didn’t understand completely what was being said. But that is disturbing for me. And then the whole matter: that even though [certain] paragraphs were removed, and rightly so, although contrary to practice in the past the document was printed with those paragraphs included, and one had to go and look at the votation to see that certain paragraphs had been removed. It’s disturbing to me that even those sections which were voted to be removed still received a substantial number of votes.

Juridically, when those three paragraphs did not receive the two-thirds majority, were they to be removed from the document?

Absolutely. We couldn’t have any discussion on that text, but we voted paragraph by paragraph, and what’s the point of voting paragraph by paragraph except to either accept a paragraph of have it removed. This is just one more disturbing aspect about the way in which Synod of Bishops was conducted.

Do you see this agenda continuing through the coming year? They aren’t going to change course?

No, because the General Secretary [the former titular Archbp. of Diocletiana, Card. Baldisseri] has identified himself very strongly with the Kasper thesis, and he is not hesitant to say so and has gone around also giving talks in various places. He’s less outspoken than Cardinal Kasper but nevertheless it’s clear that he subscribes to that school. So no, this is going to go on and that’s why it’s important that we continue to speak up and to act as we are able to address the situation.


Now that Card. Burke is no longer the head of dicastery, it is doubtful that he will be appointed by Pope Francis to the next Synod in 2015.

That does not mean that he has been silenced.

I, for one, congratulate Card. Burke on his appointment and for the loosing of his leash.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Nordic Breed says:

    On the surface, it may appear that Cardinal Burke has had his power restricted. But God will use him to build up the Church because he is an authentic witness to the Faith. Burke has the power of knowledge and character with a great ability to articulate the Faith clearly and is known the world over. Let’s watch how God will bring great good out of what some view as shame.

  2. Father Bartoloma says:

    As they’d say over at Spirit Daily: “These sad times…”

  3. MKR says:

    Burke: “I don’t ever put myself in opposition to the successor of St. Peter.”

    Fair enough, but he has put himself in opposition to you, and to Catholic tradition generally.

  4. iPadre says:

    God bless Cardinal Burke! He is a faithful son of the Church.

  5. Charles E Flynn says:

    LifePetitions invites you to thank Cardinal Burke for his service:

    Thank Cardinal Burke for his Vatican service: sign the petition

  6. O. Possum says:

    It seems like dark times when a treasure of the Church like Card. Burke is demoted. I’m sure it seemed pretty dark when St. Athanasius was thrown in prison. I’m just not sure what to think. These are confusing times for people who just want to be faithful Catholics. :(

  7. John of Chicago says:

    I know very little of the Knights of Malta but what little I know seems very admirable. Besides the 12,000 plus official knights and dames, they have over 80,000 volunteers (over 80,000!) who bring medical care, shelter and food, pastoral care and hope to the most desperately in need in 120 countries. And, apparently, they give their gifts freely without regard to nationality, ethnicity, politics or religion. To the leper–literally.

    So why should their appointed “Patron” be a Cardinal in the “twilight of his years?” The K of M’s work looks an awful lot like the Beatitudes in the flesh, on the ground; a “younger,” healthy Cardinal Patron, able to physically stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the muck and the anguish of

    Haiti then Afghanistan then Sierra Leone, would be an unambiguous witness to the Church’s
    embrace of Christ at the “Sermon on the Mount” and on the cross. It seems to me that being the K of M’s Patron would be a true privilege–and quite humbling.

  8. thomas tucker says:

    I had been giving the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt, but this public humiliation of Cardinal Burke illustrates that his actions don’t match his words about love and mercy.

  9. greenlight says:

    Any chance of getting some Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta swag? Car decals and such? It would be a great sign of solidarity.

  10. Juergensen says:

    The synod was a “total disaster”, as is this. May God grant Cardinal Burke the continuing strength and courage to defend the Faith against the heretics in the Church.

  11. kekeak2008 says:

    It’s unfortunate that he won’t remain Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Does anyone know his new mailing address? The website for the SMOM wasn’t working and I would very much like to send him a letter. Thanks for any help.

  12. Amateur Scholastic says:

    Thomas Tucker, this Crisis Magazine article makes a similar point about what comes across as empty rhetoric. You may have already seen it, but it needs to be publicised as widely as possible, so I post it here.

    I’m not sure I can put links in the combox, so Google for ‘crisis lost sheep lonely revolution’ without the quotes.

  13. Adrienne Regina says:

    How providential that the announcement should be released on the Feast of Blessed John Duns Scotus and the memorial of the Four Holy Crowned Martyrs. God bless Cardinal Burke!

  14. Juergensen says:

    “thomas tucker” raises an interesting question. So much lip service about “love” and “mercy” for mortal sinners, viz., adulterers and sodomites, and yet no love and no mercy for a faithful successor of the Apostles?

  15. Robert of Rome says:

    Cardinal Burke’s postal address is as follows:

    His Eminence,
    Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

  16. incredulous says:

    This is a very poignant, imminently relevant and good sermon warning us all not be tools of Satan and part of his dialectic which seeks to use our passions to send us all to hell.

  17. TNCath says:

    It just occurred to me: the Knights of Malta are quite an influential group within the Church. Perhaps this appointment will, in the long run, do more good in reforming the Church from outside the Curia? Perhaps it will also play a role in determining the outcome of the next Conclave? Call me a conspiracy-theorist, but crazier things have happened. It’s quite likely that Cardinal Burke would still be around to serve as an elector for the next Pope. After the dust settles from all this Synod nonsense, the Cardinal Electors (particularly the Italians) will be looking for someone to stabilize the Church again. What better man than Cardinal Burke?

  18. Grumpy Beggar says:

    C’mon guys , Father Z just did requiems.

    ” The language is at best confused, and I’m afraid that some of the Synod Fathers may not have reflected sufficiently on the implications of that, or maybe because the language is confused, didn’t understand completely what was being said.”

    Would it help, even if we could find out the origin and particularly the identity of every single person who had a hand in formulating the actual text of the documents/reports – all of them : initial, interim and final ? Or, would we then just have an object that we could hate ?

    “The language is at best confused,” indeed. And I would personally need to do an enormous amount of mental gymnastics before I could ever begin to believe that the wording – or at least critical parts of it, had not been engineered with the intention of rendering such results ; namely, confusion.

    If , in fact , as Cardinal Burke suggests, ” some of the Synod Fathers may not have reflected sufficiently on the implications of that, or maybe because the language is confused. . . “ then who better to “un-confuse” them than a straight-shooter who clearly sees where the confusion lies (double entendre) ? Especially , a straight shooter who has just been unleashed.

    Fr Z said:
    “. . . now that Card. Burke is no longer the Prefect of a Dicastery, he is far freer to act and to speak than he was before.”

    So, perhaps he is being positioned at this time so that in speaking more freely he may wake up the general comatose Catholic public, and more importantly some of those sleepy-head brothers of his . . . What a revolutionary idea: Re-evangelizing (some of) the Curia. Just think . . . Cardinal Burke just might be able to jump both Cardinal Kasper and his mentor-Hans Kung at their own game.

    And we need to take solace – be reminded that Cardinal Pell , Cardinal Ouellette , and some others are also true sons of the Holy Catholic Church who don’t get fooled by any amount or style of sophistry.

    It’s still premature IMO to hit the panic button . Didn’t our Lord say there would be “ravenous wolves” coming into the flock. And St. Peter forewarned us quite matter-of-factly in his second Letter :

    ” There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them . . . ” [2 Peter 2:1]

    . . . Anybody audaciously dim enough to believe that what Cardinal Burke has been doing recently is tantamount to denying the Master who ransomed him . . . ?
    Of course not – he’s defending the truth with clarity. That in itself , doesn’t really reflect so well on anyone who is condemning him , or who would wish to stifle him. Perhaps there is some plausibility in proposing that the Bishop of Rome feels he would have less use for Cardinal Burke in his plans ? Whatever the case, it’s evident to us that our Blessed Lord also has His plan(s) ; and didn’t He say, “My ways are not your ways” ? (I know, I know . . . some of us are thinking, “Well then maybe God could send that same sentiment to Pope Francis in the form of a registered letter.”)

    It happened.

    So , don’t worry – be grumpy ! And most of all, we mustn’t stop praying !

    Think about it . . . look at all the umm, wonderful (oww – it hurt my fingers to type that word) things Cardinal Kasper has accomplished recently – and he’s officially retired . . . I think a good Cardinal – unleashed and armed with the truth might easily be able to dwarf those accomplishments with a few more of his own.

    Let’s watch and see. . . Remember what happened when they put St. Peter in prison ? Remember what happened leading up to the event of his release ? .

    “Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.”
    [Acts 12:5]

    We need to see this as our call to prayer (persevering prayer) once the lament is over.

  19. MarWes says:

    The Pope looks to me more and more as an Obama in the cassock. His methods are certainly the same.

  20. acardnal says:

    Cardinal Burke’s new position should “loosen” him up to give even more speeches worldwide and that’s a good thing! He has been a popular speaker in certain circles and I hope he now has the opportunity to give even more frequent speeches and celebrate TLM/EF Masses worldwide.

  21. Dave N. says:

    For reasons unknown it’s actually “,” not “”—but that’s their spelling error, not yours, Father.

  22. Grumpy Beggar,

    That’s great advice you have given! This is quite contrary to all the sad sacks on the Internet amongst the supposed “Traditionalists” who are crying doom and gloom. I liked it so much I reposted your comment as a posting on my blog, Servimus Unum Deum, here:

    Without a link on your name to an email or blog, it’s hard to ask for permission first. I hope you are ok with me sharing such good advice. Pax.

  23. Charles E Flynn says:

    Look at who is a Public Figure.

  24. Pingback: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke is now Patron of the Knights of Malta | Catholicism Pure & Simple

  25. Emilio says:

    I think the Pope is good at heart and well-intentioned, but is increasingly surrounding himself with poor advisors, men who want to pit others into political camps as if it were about American politics. Cardinal Burke is an expert canon lawyer and theologian, far from being an obstacle, he is really a loyal asset. Pope Francis has been caricatured as a liberal reactionary, when in fact he is an old-school Jesuit. Anyone who really thinks of Cardinal Burke as a boogeyman is simply allowing himself to be lied to by the American media, and the far more ridiculous European media, and simply doesn’t care to know the man and what he is about. Return Cardinal Burke home if you don’t appreciate his worth, he is more than welcome among most informed Catholics here. I would rather have a firm man who speaks the truth as he knows it, than a Roman palace full of prelates exclusively of the Pope’s liking, mere and fickle sycophants to the Zeitgeist and their own advancement.

  26. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Our Lord said that some souls are like seed scattered on rocky ground (Matt. 13:5). How quickly they spring up in defense of Tradition, but how quickly they are burnt up in anger and bitterness in the scorching sun of Church trials and difficulties. If a person wishes to honor Cardinal Burke as his teacher, he should do so best by remaining joyful and loyal in Faith, as his Eminence has. What little compliment to Burke when the best response some can give is to gnash teeth and attack Pope Francis over the appearances of a political career in the Church!

    Fr. Z, I join you in congratulating Cardinal Burke, as he will be an outstanding spiritual father to the Knights of Malta, whose international service in the Catholic Church is well known. Burke will also continue to be in Rome, make contacts, and provide ministrations where they are needed to the Extraordinary Form community.

  27. Phil B says:

    Malta has a history of being an impregnable redoubt for the cause of Christ. May God bless the Maltese Falcon with every grace.

  28. Imrahil says:

    Dear John of Chicago,

    So why should their appointed “Patron” be a Cardinal in the “twilight of his years?”

    Because he is their patron. He represents the Pope to (not: in) the order, especially in the fact that as a Catholic order they have normal Catholic filial affection to the Holy Father and that as an order with Papal privileges (of honor) the Pope who has granted them these privileges (of honor) and is loved for having done so. He does not lead the order nor is he a member of it.

    Being a sovereign chivalric order, they are led by their own Grand Master. (This one has the rather unique style, in the Catholic world outside the Sacred College, of “Eminence”, or to be more precise “His Serene Highness and Eminence”.)

    This is different by the way from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. These are in fact led by their Cardinal, who is for this reason called Cardinal Prefect, and not Patron.

    — That said, you can expect the order of Malta to receive Cardinal Burke quite hospitably into their priory at the Aventine Hill (you know… the one famous with tourists for its keyhole), if he wishes to do so.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Approaching this in the manner of forensic debaters, ready to argue either side of a matter as well as possible, and distinguishing three things and considering each quite distinctly, why would it be good to:

    1. Make Cardinal Burke Patron,
    2. Remove Cardinal Burke from the office of Prefect,
    3. Make Archbishop Mamberti Prefect?

    And then, considering them together, why would it be better to:

    4. Make Cardinal Burke Patron than Prefect,
    5. Make Archbishop Mamberti rather than Cardinal Burke, Prefect?

    I could not put any of these cases – I lack a good debater’s level of knowledge – but, while 1. is, in effect, being made (in varying degrees) here, by Fr. Z, John of Chicago, and TNCath, among others, what of 2. through 5.?

  30. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dave N.,

    “reasons unknown” to me, too, as not enough of a philologist, but it’s the sort of thing Italian does to Greek loan words: cf. ‘biblioteca’, ‘teatro’, etc.

  31. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Diana Montagna in her linked interview writes, “Aleteia’s Rome correspondent and another reporter sat down with Cardinal Burke”…

    “Another reporter” is, I presume, Edward Pentin, and this is a fuller publication of the matter behind his Breitbart “Exclusive”.

    If so, we can now see a fuller version of questions and answers about “schism” (twice, and only, the reporter’s word choice).

    The questions and answers about the interim Relatio and the Relatio Synodi are all very interesting. Those about the rejected paragraphs not least in the context of Reinhold Cardinal Marx’s assertions in an interview with Die Zeit (which I have not seen in the original) as quoted in translation by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt in a 28 October article:

    As so quoted, Cardinal Marx: “”They are still part of the text […] I especially asked the pope about that, and the pope said he wanted all the points published together with all the voting results. He wanted everyone in the church to see where we stood. No, this pope has pushed the doors open and the voting results at the end of the synod will not change that.”

    While Cardinal Burke is here reported as saying: “And then the whole matter: that even though [certain] paragraphs were removed, and rightly so, although contrary to practice in the past the document was printed with those paragraphs included, and one had to go and look at the votation to see that certain paragraphs had been removed.”

    And, in answer to the follow-up question, “Juridically, when those three paragraphs did not receive the two-thirds majority, were they to be removed from the document?”, Cardinal Burke replies, “Absolutely. We couldn’t have any discussion on that text, but we voted paragraph by paragraph, and what’s the point of voting paragraph by paragraph except to either accept a paragraph of have it removed. This is just one more disturbing aspect about the way in which Synod of Bishops was conducted.”

    If, indeed, the Pope ordered this, this would seem another instance of Cardinal Burke questioning the Pope’s prudential method.

    A question that arises from Cardinal Burke’s saying “We couldn’t have any discussion on that text, but we voted paragraph by paragraph” and “some of the Synod Fathers […] maybe because the language is confused, didn’t understand completely what was being said” in the context of his modesty about his own mastery of Italian is, how exactly were the paragraphs presented to the Fathers? In the light of Paul Butler’s reporting in his blog that “at the end it all came down to 62 minutes of secret electronic voting on the text of the Relatio minute for each paragraph”, did any non-native-Italian-speaking Father have anything more or other than the bare Italian text to consider in those single minutes?

  32. frahobbit says:

    @Charles E Flynn : I
    I wish you had said it was a facebook page.

  33. Kirk O says:

    I am happy that we now have a great new leader of the Knights of Malta. Who else than Cardnial Burke could reassemble the knights to once again defend the Church? God knows we need defenders well armed with the Armor of God.

  34. johnnycuredents says:

    There is a lot of intrigue here, but to judge what is going on we have to step back and ask ourselves, “What is new that made this Synod so strange and controversial?” There is only one answer and we all know it: Jose Bergoglio, the pope. Absent his orchestration, none of this would have happened in this way. Who among us can imagine such a PR catastrophe (i.e. catastrophe for the traditional teachings of the Church) under any other pope in memory? I don’t know about others but this has become my motto: I have to love the pope because of the position he occupies, but I do not have to like him. And, in fact, I am sorry to say that I really don’t.

    Among the last, say 10 popes, many have made mistakes in governance; some have made very serious mistakes (e.g. Pius XI’s decision to rely on Mussolini early on, something he later bitterly regretted). But no pope I know of has made so many serious errors in so short a time, less than two years. Only a fool could fail to see a pattern here, and I suspect that many Catholic writers and thinkers far more gifted than I are lying awake night after night worrying about what is happening. I think soon they will have to begin speaking about their fears in public and what we hear won’t be pretty.

  35. thomas tucker says:

    Fr Sotelo, one can be joyous in the faith, but still “call out Peter to his face.” Being a faithful Catholic does not mean refusing to face facts.

  36. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Thomas Tucker:

    This post of Fr. Z’s is not about calling out Peter “to his face.” It is about Cardinal Burke’s transfer to another post and the appropriate response of the Catholic faithful. 1) First response, we have no business butting our noses where they don’t belong. All employees of the Holy Father serve at his good pleasure, and I have no desire telling the Pope how to run the Vatican or the Curia. It’s hard enough running my own parish and having a handle on my employees and their issues. 2) Second response, is spiritually rooted Catholics have never concerned themselves with political careers, and which Cardinal gets the “slim pickings” and who gets the “plum assignment.” What we should concern ourselves with is that Cardinal Burke has graciously accepted this transfer–precisely for us to follow his example of graciousness and serenity before God’s holy will and not kick up our heels as if that is going to do any favors for Burke.

  37. thomas tucker says:

    Father, I am not going to hijack the comments and debate with you unless invited to by our host. I see what I see. In the meantime God bless Cardinal Burke for his graciousness, and you for your service to the Church.

  38. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 10/11/14 | CHRONICA

  39. TWF says:

    Kirk O:
    The good Cardinal won’t be “leading” the Knights. The Grand Master of the Order leads the Knights. The Cardinal has been given a ceremonial position. Certainly he will have influence and direct access to the Grand Master and other leadership of the Order, but the Order governs itself. As far as I know, the Cardinal Patron has ZERO jurisdiction over the Order.

  40. Brad says:

    Re Juergensen’s sodomite reference:

    I came not to call righteous men, but sinners, to reformation.

    Assuming the Cardinal is indeed a righteous man, the Lord perfects righteous men through humiliations, even humiliations via the hands of their fellow men, including the Holy Father. This does not even begin to imply that there is a scandalous lack of love and mercy here. To not give anyone, least of all the Lord’s vicar on Earth, the benefit of the doubt is against charity. We should, indeed must, assume that Francis is operating with love and mercy toward the Cardinal.

    Likewise, we must rejoice when the Pope ostensibly shows love and mercy to sinners, which includes sodomites.

    This is what the Lord did as He walked here with us, and what He does millions of times per week, now, on planet Earth, in the confessional. Indeed, seven times in one day, if you have seen the Gospel reading for today.

    Otherwise we are fulfilling many passages in the Old and New Testaments about murmuring against Him.

    The murmuring comes on so quickly, thanks to our fallen nature, that we are doing it before we even realize. So watch out.

    If we get to heaven we will admit, soft-heartedly, that the Lord’s mercy toward sinners is no doubt His most ravishingly beautiful aspect. We will rejoice to see His lost sheep there with Him — and at what cost to Him. We won’t loathe them anymore. Moreover, we will see with utter horror that we were as guilty as they were, if not more so, and yet still He came looking for us, carried us back, and allowed — allowed! — us to wash ourselves white in his Blood.

    In this regard when the Holy Father acts with charity toward both sinners and toward ostensibly righteous men, he is performing perfectly his role of being a reflection of Him who gave him His keys.

    May God bless you.

  41. Pingback: 5 Ways You Were Fooled to Believe That Cardinal Burke Has Been Demoted - There and Back Again

  42. Pingback: LifeSiteNews ofrece la posibilidad de darle las gracias al cardenal Burke | Plataforma Cívica de Familias Cristianas

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