Card Burke interview on “hot button” topics. Fr. Z rants.

card burkeAt my old stomping ground The Wanderer (I had a weekly column for 11 years) there is an interview with His Eminence Raymond Leo Card. Burke.  Read the whole thing there, but here is a sample of Part One of the interview, with my patented treatment.


Q. Returning to a point you previously mentioned [about the last, controversial Synod of Bishops], you noted that even though three contentious paragraphs [on divorced, civilly remarried and homosexuals] failed to garner the required two-thirds majority, they were included in the final relatio. You subsequently called for these “hot-button topics” to be removed from consideration. Do you think there is a legitimate possibility that they will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod?
In the meantime, how can faithful Catholics respond to questions regarding the perception of many that the Church is on the verge of changing her teaching? What positive steps can be taken by the laity?

A. I trust that there is a possibility that these topics will be taken off the table prior to the General Synod — that is precisely why I have insisted upon it. But it will not happen easily because those insisting on their consideration are in positions of great influence with regard to the Synod of Bishops.  [Whom I suspect have strong reasons for those paragraphs to remain at the heart of the final resulting document.]
The Church cannot change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the grave sinfulness of sexual relations outside the matrimonial union and the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts. [Before some nitwit out there says that “Burke is a homophobe!”, note that he speaks of “acts” not “persons”.]
The laity needs to nourish themselves with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium on marriage, with the teaching that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They must also give witness to it in their everyday dealings, not only with other Catholics but with people who are not of the Catholic Faith, to make it clear that the Church is not changing her teaching — indeed, that she cannot.  [That’s right.  And it is even more important, by factors of hundreds, for priests and bishops to do this in the clearest possible language.  We must not rest or be complacent, because the … other side is not going to be!]
I am hopeful that there will be opportunities for the lay faithful to take part in days of study with regard to the Church’s teaching on marriage and its beauty. I also hope that there might be demonstrations and other public manifestations in support of the truth about marriage.

Q. “Who am I to judge?” continues to be a phrase that is used and misused by the media and is a source of confusion among many of the lay faithful. In your opinion, what steps need to be taken by the Church’s Magisterium to correct misperceptions of this statement? When is it acceptable to make judgments and when is it not?

A. The phrase “Who am I to judge?” is one that I have to understand according to sound Catholic teaching and practice, namely, “Who am I to judge the individual?” We have always withheld judgment on an individual because to be in grave sin, one must have knowledge and full consent of the will. The Church has always taught that we love the sinner, but we hate the sin.
On the other hand, a person is bound to judge evil acts as evil. We cannot pretend — tolerance cannot fly in the face of truth. We are held to judge if we see an act which is objectively disordered — to make that judgment. For instance, if people are involved in extramarital activities, one must be charitable to them, loving the sinner but at the same time being very clear that the acts they are committing are gravely immoral.


And then…


Q. Please comment on the connection between the Sacred Liturgy and the New Evangelization. [A good question!  I think there is a straight line between them, so much so that without a renewal of our sacred worship, using what Summorum Pontificum has given us, no of “New Evangelization” can succeed.] Is the Sacred Liturgy a peripheral matter to the preaching of the Gospel? Or does the Sacred Liturgy play an essential role in the Gospel imperative to proclaim Jesus Christ? If the two activities of the Church are in fact essentially connected, how can this connection be shown more clearly and lived more compellingly within the ordinary parish setting? Does a wide celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass have any part to play in the efforts of the New Evangelization?

A. The Sacred Liturgy is absolutely the first act of the New Evangelization. [YES!  I recently heard another Cardinal speak about various challenges we face and the issue of liturgy didn’t come up until about 47 minutes into the presentation.] Unless we worship God in spirit and in truth, unless we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy with the greatest possible faith in God and faith in the divine action which takes place in Holy Mass, we are not going to have the inspiration and the grace to carry out the New Evangelization.
The Sacred Liturgy shows us the form of the New Evangelization because it is a direct encounter with the mystery of faith: Christ’s redemptive Incarnation for the sake of conquering sin in our lives and winning for us the grace of the divine life, a share in the life of the Holy Trinity through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
The first three commandments all have to do with the worship of God. It is the Sacred Liturgy which establishes a right relationship with God and with one another which we are called to live in our daily lives.  [Exactly what I am always harping about.]
The way this connection can be more compellingly lived in parish life is by celebrating the Sacred Liturgy in such a way that all of the faithful understand that the priest is acting in the person of Christ. They must understand that it is Christ Himself Who is descending to our altars to make truly present His sacrifice; that they must unite their hearts to His own glorious pierced Heart to cleanse them from sin and thus strengthen them for love of God and love of neighbor.
If the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in an anthropocentric way, in a horizontal way in which it is no longer evident that it is a divine action, it simply becomes a social activity that can be relativized along with everything else — it doesn’t have any lasting impact on one’s life.  [Alas, the Novus Ordo lends itself, through its structure, wordiness, options, etc., to this horizontality.]
I think the celebration of the Extraordinary Form can have a very significant part to play in the New Evangelization because of its emphasis on the transcendence of the Sacred Liturgy. In other words, it emphasizes the reality of the union of Heaven and earth through the Sacred Liturgy. The action of Christ through the signs of the sacrament, through His priests, is very evident in the Extraordinary Form. It helps us, then, to be more reverent also in the celebration of the Ordinary Form. [And, I’ll add, it is good to use it not just because it helps reverence in the Ordinary Form.  The use of the Extraordinary Form is good in itself and not just because there are other practical knock-on effects.]


Regarding both issues I excerpted for this post, I remind the readership that …

… if we are not on offense, we are on defense.

We must not be complacent.

We cannot forget about what happened at the last Synod of Bishops and then imagine that everything is going to be smooth and perfect at the next meeting in October 2015.  The “hot button” issues are not going away.  They are not going to die out.  On the contrary.

Also, we have Summorum Pontificum.   USE. IT.  Those of you who have obtained what you want… don’t just sit complacently and imagine that everything is fine now and that you don’t have to do anything else.  In fact, some of you may simply be benefiting from the efforts and sacrifices of others.   GET TO WORK.   Get involved.  Make the use of the older, traditional use of Holy Mass and sacraments spread.   Form an “action item” group.  Develop some projects and goals.   Help priests who want to learn to learn.  Advertise, invite, persuade.  Take out ads in papers.

¡Hagan lío!

Don’t just sit there, all smug, thinking that you a) can’t lose what you have and b) you don’t have to keep working.

If you are not on offense, you are on defense!

Don’t be self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagians!

Think about what Card. Burke has been doing. He hasn’t just sat back or receded into the shadows of his new appointment. He is giving interview and speaking forthrightly. He is not resting because he knows what the stakes are.

We need to have the same attitude. Do not let your past victories be pyrrhic victories.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, ACTION ITEM!, Fr. Z KUDOS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. RAve says:

    Zisking rocks.

  2. Giuseppe says:

    I think the real need for magisterial clarification in response to ‘who am I to judge’ is the implication that the Pope is in favor of admitting celibate homosexuals to the priesthood. This takes on added resonance with the homosexual-activism among some leaders at the recent synod.

  3. Netmilsmom says:

    They are not going to change any dogma, the press is. Then the liberal Priests and Bishops will just let them run with it.
    Just like Humantae Vitae.

  4. Robbie says:

    There are many reasons to appreciate Cardinal Burke and his ability to offer clarity should be right at the top.

  5. Gus Barbarigo says:

    Cardinal Burke said, “I also hope that there might be demonstrations and other public manifestations in support of the truth about marriage.”

    This is key. If during the papal visit to the U.S., the media sees demonstrations in support of the sacraments and against the rigged synod, then the Pope will know that the laity is paying attention.

    Has anyone heard of such demonstrations being planned?

  6. Bea says:

    We in the pews can’t do much.
    Cardinal Burke said (in past interviews) to make our opinions known to the Curia/to the Holy Father.
    If that’s all we can do (besides constant prayer and sacrifice) lets do it.
    Write letters, encourage others to do so, we cannot sit back and let the Media and the Curia run with the ball as we sit back and watch. Our Sacrament of Confirmation demands we do something in defense of the Faith, even if it means contradicting the Hierarchy who find themselves with wrong (Faithless) views.
    Luke 18:8 “Will I find any Faith on Earth” (on His return).

  7. frjim4321 says:

    He certainly hasn’t allowed his recent demotion to cause him to hold back in sharing his extreme opinions.

  8. pannw says:

    He certainly is taking advantage of his new assignment which gives him time to share the Universal Truth taught by Christ’s Church.

    Deo gratias for faithful priests!

  9. Indulgentiam says:

    His extremely Catholic and Dogmaticly correct beacon shinning in the darkness opinions. May His Excellency long continue and may his number increase!
    Our Lady Queen of the Clergy pray for us!

  10. Imrahil says:

    Dear Giuseppe,

    interesting. Especially since the exclusion from the priesthood of people who, by orientation homosexual, are willing to live according to right morality, that is something which the Church could change. Though that is not to say such a change would be wise.

  11. acricketchirps says:

    Right on, Fr.Jim! You stay luke warm for us.

  12. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Jim,

    why would it have? Even speaking totally in the worldly way… what has he, now, to lose? The Pope’s not going to strip him from the Cardinalate for uttering what are, to say the very least, opinions allowed to Catholics. And I might imagine him thinking “and if he is, then so be it”.

  13. Thorfinn says:

    “I think the real need for magisterial clarification in response to ‘who am I to judge’ is the implication that the Pope is in favor of admitting celibate homosexuals to the priesthood.”

    Pope Francis on vocations to the Congregation for the Clergy:
    “You must examine well if it is from the Lord, if the man is healthy, if the man is balanced, if the man is capable of giving life, of evangelizing, if the man is capable of forming a family and of giving this up to follow Jesus.”

    Healthy, balanced, and capable of forming a family — those are sound criteria that clearly ruling out men with deep-seated homosexual inclination, among other things.

  14. jacobi says:

    This expression of the Holy Father, “who am I to judge” will come back to haunt us all.

    It is good that Cardinal Burke explains here what the pope actually meant, that is the sin not the sinner. It would be better by far if the pope were to explain it himself.

    We are required to judge. We do it every day. That is why we have minds, human minds.
    This expression can and no doubt will be used to justify so-called hate language legislation and censorship. It will ultimately rebound on the Catholic Church as the power and intent of the State to control, grows ever stronger.

    And it will even be used by the Relativist faction in the Church to alter Catholic teaching, such as the sinfulness of sex outside of a valid marriage between a man and a woman.
    After all would it not be “merciful” for us not to judge such behaviour, and just let them receive Holy Communion?

  15. SaintJude6 says:

    Extreme opinions? Oh, you must mean the sound Catholic teaching that you are supposed to be living out each day. God bless Cardinal Burke for standing up and being heard when far too many priests have become effeminate and bland.

  16. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Re: frjim4321

    Your referring to Cardinal Burke as “extreme” is clearly following the Rulebook, i.e., ‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.’

  17. Bea says:

    “Extreme opinions”?
    If “extreme opinions” means he is defending the Faith, then I wish we had more “extremists” who will follow Christ’s Teachings and not man’s whims and sinful inclinations and those who pat sinful man on the back and claim they have “virtues” to offer the Church.

    God Bless Cardinal Burke, a prelate not afraid to defend God’s Teachings.

  18. JBS says:

    It has become a startling experience to hear a prelate speak clearly and with integrity.

  19. Mike says:

    frjim4321 says: He certainly hasn’t allowed his recent demotion to cause him to hold back in sharing his extreme opinions.

    Laodicea heard from. Sed quia tepidus es, et nec frigidus, nec calidus, incipiam te evomere ex ore meo.

  20. ChrisRawlings says:

    I’m not sure what Cardinal Burke has in mind, but I’m pretty sure that the “controversial” points of discussion regarding divorce and remarriage as well as homosexuals won’t be off the table before October. I thought Cardinal Muller’s masterful essay in the OR a year ago would have already done that, him being prefect of the CDF and all, but it clearly did not.

  21. benedetta says:

    “It is the Sacred Liturgy which establishes a right relationship with God and with one another which we are called to live in our daily lives.” Great statement. If a local church does not get the Sacred Liturgy right, if worship due to God is not made manifest in truth, beauty, and love, then, nothing else will be ordered properly. A didactic “worship service” largely devoid of those crucial elements will interfere with authentic, charitable relationships among Christians.

    As the wonderful late Fr. John Neuhaus used to say, “The Church is at her best when she is winsome, never imposing…she proposes.” Our confreres we are journeying with even today in the most secular areas of the country are in such great need of the Church’s gracious proposals, of her generosity with respect to reverent celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice, of kindness towards young people grappling with all the glorious questions of our existence in light of the reality of the Trinity.

  22. benedetta says:

    Also, as to this, Father: “He is not resting because he knows what the stakes are” — Yes.

  23. danidunn says:

    Extremism in the defense of Catholicism is no vice! [Is that so? I suppose dying is one thing… how about… killing?]

  24. danidunn says:

    “Is that so? I suppose dying is one thing… how about… killing?”.

    How could anybody, who professes to be Catholic, think that killing, for any reason, is justified? [Seriously? I can think of many situations in which killing is justified, such as a father defending his wife and children, such as protecting oneself and innocent bystanders from a deadly aggressor.]

    Because, Muslims who commit terrorist acts are wrongly labeled as “extremist”, does not make the term extremist pejorative.

  25. danidunn says:

    I didn’t mean this to be a debate. My original post was, as it turns out, a poor attempt at humor. I was commenting on the people who accused Cardinal Burke of being extremist and ripping off Barry Goldwater when, after he was called an extremist, said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

    “[Seriously? I can think of many situations in which killing is justified, such as a father defending his wife and children, such as protecting oneself and innocent bystanders from a deadly aggressor.]”

    As, I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, that self-defense is not killing. [Of course it’s a “killing”. That’s what you call it when you kill someone. You might, however, not be guilty of a sin when you kill an unjust aggressor.] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing [!] of the aggressor…. The one is intended, the other is not.”65 (1737)

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: [i.e., “killing”] (2196)
    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing [!] the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66

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