Card. Burke’s magisterial talk in England: If we can’t get the family right, New Evangelization will fail.


His Eminence Raymond Leo (Latin for “Lion”) Card. S.R.E. Burke was in England recently. He sang Mass for which my friend Fr. Finigan was one of the sacred ministers. He gave quite a talk. The full text is HERE. The diocesan Bishop, His Excellency Mark Davies of Shrewsbury was in attendance.

Here is the money quote:

“If we can’t get it straight with regard to the truth about marriage and the family, we really don’t have much to say about anything else.”

His Eminence made prominent reference to the “Five Cardinals Book™”, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. This is an important book.

Some samples of the talk:

At the present moment in the Church, there is perhaps no more critical issue for us to address than the truth about marriage. In a world in which the integrity of marriage has been under attack for decades, the Church has remained a faithful herald of the truth about God’s plan for man and woman in the faithful, indissoluble and procreative union of marriage. In the present time, certainly under pressure from a totally secularized culture, a growing confusion and even error has entered into the Church, which would weaken seriously, if not totally compromise, the Church’s witness to the detriment of the whole of society.

The confusion and error became evident for the world during the recent session of the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops….


As Christians today, we find ourselves in a completely secularized society.

I would add, “aided and abetted by catholics”.


Recognizing the irreplaceable evangelizing power of the family in the whole of society, the Church is even more impelled to devote Herself to safeguarding and fostering the truth of married and family life.


It is clear that, if a new evangelization is not taking place in marriages, in the family, then it will not take place in the Church or in society, in general. At the same time, marriages transformed by the Gospel are the first and most powerful agent of the transformation of society by the Gospel.

And… the point I have stressed for years about the central, indeed sine qua non function of worthy sacred liturgical worship…

At the heart of marriage and of family life is divine worship and prayer which give form to every other aspect of life. Sacred worship, the highest and most perfect expression of our life in Christ, is at the heart of family life. In the worship of God, in prayer, and in devotion the family receives the power to evangelize and, at the same time, evangelizes the world most powerfully.


So often, today, a notion of tolerance of ways of thinking and acting contrary to the moral law seems to be the interpretative key for many Christians. Today’s popular notion of tolerance is not securely grounded in the moral tradition, yet it tends to dominate our approach to the extent that we end up claiming to be Christian while tolerating ways of thinking and acting which are diametrically opposed to the moral law revealed to us in nature and in the Sacred Scriptures. The approach, at times, becomes so relativistic and subjective that we do not even observe the fundamental logical principle of non-contradiction, that is, that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. In other words, certain actions cannot at the same time be both true to the moral law and not true to it.

In fact, charity alone must be the interpretive key of our thoughts and actions. In the context of charity, tolerance means unconditional love of the person who is involved in evil but firm abhorrence of the evil into which the person has fallen. …

And… a key… TRUTH…

The first constitutive element of the moral law is the truth about the inviolability of innocent human life and the integrity of the conjugal union of man and woman which is written upon every human heart.


In our day, our witness to the splendor of the truth about marriage must be limpid and heroic. We must be ready to suffer, as Christians have suffered down the ages, to honor and foster Holy Matrimony. Let us take as our examples Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More, who were martyrs in defending the integrity of the fidelity and indissolubility of marriage.

Read the whole thing there.

You can obtain for yourself and your friends… maybe even the parish priest… the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church which contains five essays of cardinals, of the archbishop secretary of the Vatican congregation for the Oriental Churches, and of three scholars on the ideas supported by Walter Card. Kasper in the opening discourse of the consistory in February 2014.

Also available now in the UK! HERE

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  1. Kevin Jones says:

    Father, I was privileged to be at the speech give by his Eminence in Chester last Friday. The room was full to capacity and they had to bring in additional chairs and still people had to stand!

    On Sunday, the Cardinal said Low Mass at Ss Peter & Paul and St Philomena’s in New Brighton. Of course, the ICKSP care for this grand church and the Cardinal is well acquainted with ICKSP.

    A grace filled weekend!

  2. Tony Phillips says:

    I was at Ramsgate last night for the 6.30 Pontifical EF Mass with Cdl Burke. It’s a beautiful though not huge church (designed by Purign, who’s buried there), but I’e never seen the place so packed.
    Interesting but I recognised some folks who normally attend the local SSPX ‘Mass centre’ there…there’s clearly people who would come fully into the fold of the church if the hierarchy allowed them freedom of conscience and the freedom to worship in the way that speaks to their hearts.
    The bad news is that it clashed with the Taize service in Canterbury sponsored by the local ‘Call to Action’ group. Not being a saint, I couldn’t bilocate.

  3. DonL says:

    IMO the diabolical war on God’s Church has shifted to a direct attack on the sacraments. Marriage is the Pearl Harbor, because by corrupting it, you corrupt the integrity of the Church itself.
    Notice that the issues of unrepentant gays and adulterers receiving the Eucharist, (a choice target) also seeks to corrupt not only the sacrilegious sinners but the very Eucharist, the priesthood, reconciliation, etc.
    Like the World Trade Centers–a well aimed hit can reduce a magnificent structure to rubble in minutes. The oft spoken reply that “the Church will prevail” has little to do with the millions of lost souls that will fall by the wayside for eternity.
    Again, IMO, the target is the Sacraments, and the weapon appears to be a distortion of the “pastoral/mercy” (a means) to confuse the very knowledge of God–dogma–that is essential in order to know, love and serve Him….(the end)

  4. albizzi says:

    The “Five Cardinals Book” was mailed personally in hundreds of copies to the attendants of the last Synod just before its opening, through regular mail of the “Poste Italiane”.
    Only 2 or 3 copies reached their adressees. The others were stolen in the Vatican mail upon order of Card. Baldisseri. See details in:
    For those who are still believing that te Church had become a democracy since the last council…

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    This man talks like a Pope should talk.

  6. CharlesG says:

    Huzzah! Huzzah! What a refreshing contrast to the Kasperite doctrinal and moral obfuscations of a certain Southeast Asian prelate who should know better, also visiting England. See here:

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for drawing attention to, and linking the full text of, this fine talk to SPUC and Voice of the Family!

    I suppose official English translations of all the Papal works he lucidly quotes (in one case I noticed correcting the translation from the Latin: see note 11) are available online, so one can read the quotations in context and the works in their entirety, but I have not yet started trying to find out where – not always the easiest undertaking where the Vatican web-presence is concerned.

    Describing “Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More” as “martyrs in defending the integrity of the fidelity and indissolubility of marriage” is a bit terse, insofar as what Henry VIII was seeking – wherever he could find it – was not the dissolution of marriage but the nullity of putative marriage – recognition of which does nothing radically to qualify Cardinal Burke’s saying “let us invoke their intercession, so that the great gift of married life and love will be ever more revered in the Church and in society.”

  8. frjim4321 says:

    Actually when I see what sometimes passes as “new evangelization” I would not grieve it’s failure.

    Specifically, I refer to the new “eMANgelization” (sic) which seems very strange to me. [Wow. That’s really strange to me. Every priest should understand the connection – for men – between true evangelization and a strong, healthy male identity.]

  9. PA mom says:

    I have to strongly agree that the support that the Church offers to the family is among the most important things it does.
    The question can be raised as to whether the institutional Church does enough to assist family life (obviously the laity needs to do more), but it is ridiculous to argue that the way for the Institutional Church to increase assistance to the family life is to help it fall apart more smoothly, to allow it to remain broken more comfortably and to drop all pretenses of following the Gospel to do so.

    The priest response I just read on Rorate was spot on. This has got a ways to go yet to raise any hopes of actually helping family life. And the tragic thing is how much family life needs to be properly helped.

  10. Joseph-Mary says:

    I do love that Cardinal Burke. His is the most clear voice of truth in the Church today, I think.

  11. mikeinmo says:

    How long will it be before we have a Pope who speaks the truth with such clarity and passion? Such a man would cause liberal heretics to have a conniption fit, and for their heads to explode (or something). St. Michael, rescue us from the snares of the Devil.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Anyone interested in photos from the Mass can check out my blog.

    Thanks for the sermon input, Father, and I have the book and so does a sem in England, thanks to a reader who sent him a copy.

    I am convinced, as I have said from pretty much day one of this pontificate, that the Pope is in this office for his own salvation. I think he is the Pope in John Bosco’s vision who is martyred.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Some readers here might like this as well, on marriage and the synod….

  14. jacobi says:

    The Cardinal is right. Unless we get the Catholic family back at the centre of Church life we might as well forget it.

    And yet where is the leadership? Where is the clear direction from the Vatican. Conspicuous by its absence!

    But the pressure to accept some form of divorce, or some form of homosexual relationship, is still there, with a surprising degree of continuing support from many bishops. One can only wonder why?


  15. mysticalrose says:

    Supertradmum, what do you mean by this: “I am convinced, as I have said from pretty much day one of this pontificate, that the Pope is in this office for his own salvation.” I’m curious!

  16. Supertradmum says:

    BTW the speech reads like an encyclical and I still think this Cardinal could become pope someday.

    It is a fantastic speech and if I was teaching I would use it in a marriage and family class.

    mysticalrose…sometimes God puts us in offices, or places which will make us holy, and take us beyond our own selves….out of our comfort zones. These are the places of our own salvation.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    sorry if I were teaching…sigh…not enough sleep.

  18. gramma10 says:

    The Beatitudes
    He said:
    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  19. John Nolan says:

    Cardinal Burke’s so-called ‘demotion’ is a blessing in disguise. As a cardinal-without-portfolio, still relatively young, he can speak freely and render the Church a great service. I see that he is in England again in May and will celebrate the Solemn Mass for St Philip’s Day at the Oxford Oratory.

  20. mysticalrose says:

    Thanks for the response, Supertradmum.

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