Cardinal Burke: The Lowdown On The “BuzzFeed” Interview
There are two main news issues, and two parts. The news issues are:
1. the confirmation of the imminent demotion, and
2. an apparently strong criticism of the Pope.
The parts are
a) a “third person” interview in the main body, and
b) the transcript of only the part concerning the demotion as an appendix.
This as I write. I do hope the full transcript will be available soon.
I am not interested in 1, because if you are a regular reader of this blog you knew all already. As already stated, this non-news is only important in the message it sends: Cardinal Burke is now more free to speak freely.
What interest us is part 2. Let us see the “printed” facts:
If Pope Francis had selected certain cardinals to steer the meeting to advance his personal views on matters like divorce and the treatment of LGBT people, Burke said, he would not be observing his mandate as the leader of the Catholic Church.
This is a report of what the Cardinal would have said. There are no direct quotes concerning this. But it is rather tentative. A warning shot, not cannon fire. If the Pope has manipulated the Synod, then he is ignoring his job description and furthering his own personal views. But the Cardinal seems to have stopped short form saying that this is the case. For now, at least. This might, in fact, be a last warning shot before the real fire begins.
“According to my understanding of the church’s teaching and discipline, no, it wouldn’t be correct,” Burke said, saying the pope had “done a lot of harm” by not stating “openly what his position is.”
We do not have the question whose answer starts with “According”. Bad journalism.
The words “done a lot of harm” are quoted, but we miss the entire phrase. If the harm is merely in keeping silent, this is not an indictment of Francis’ character: rather, merely a reproach of weakness, indecisiveness, perhaps incompetence. But it is not a public accusation of manipulation, much less heresy.
Burke said the Pope had given the impression that he endorses some of the most controversial parts of the Relatio, especially on questions of divorce, because of a German cardinal who gave an important speech suggesting a path to allowing people who had divorced and remarried to receive communion, Cardinal Walter Kasper, to open the synod’s discussion.
This is also in the third person. Pope Francis would have “given the impression”. There is no open accusation of supporting the wrong side, or of seriously misguided (as they say today for “heretical”) thinking. Francis is imprudent, perhaps a tad left-leaning. He has not spoken when he should have done so. Nothing more than that. I can’t say this is unprecedented in modern times.
“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth,” Burke said. “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
This here is, I think, the crux. The phrase describes, in itself, something every Catholic should know, but is apparently not mainstream anymore in these times of savage Clericalism and rampant Papolatry. We would need the context to know whether the Cardinal is openly accusing Francis of doing what he cannot do. The words published do not say this. I could say the same words to you concerning the same arguments, speaking of Pius XII.
Now, follow me closely here: if the last sentence was expressed after lamenting an actual attempt of the Pope to change the Church’s teaching (and we would need to read the script for that), then this would obviously be an open indictment not of Francis’ decisiveness, but of his own orthodoxy and worthiness as a Pope. I can’t see what other reading would be possible. “The Pope is not free to change church teaching, and this is what he has just tried to do” would be the message. This would clearly be a charge of material heresy.
But again, the very same words could have been said in a different context, as you can readily see if you insert the words “as the great Pope Saint Pius X already stated…”, or such like, before the actual phrase.
I wish there were less “third party” interviews, and more “regular” interviews.
Questions and answers, everything in direct speech (“I think that”, not “The Cardinal stressed the issue of”), and published in full.
I write this at 3:30 pm Italian time. No word of correction from Burke, who must be well awake by now. No doubt, his phone is ringing like mad.
Perhaps a “Francis’ game” is at work here: first the interview, then silence. No confirmation, and no retractation. Just let it stay in the air that “Francis does harm to the Church”. This is what Francis does. It would be priceless.
I wait for other Cardinals and Bishops to take their stance and say more to us about the entire matter. It is difficult for me to think Burke has no allies,with whom he could coordinate the interventions. He might have acted alone out of pure love for the Truth, but I can’t imagine we are in such a desperate situation as this.
This is, from what I can read, no open attack to Francis (and it would be high time). But it could be the last of the warning shots. There are, praise be to God, winds of war blowing. There is also, it seems to me, a rich subtext to this. “Just think what we could do, if you don’t act and stop this madness”.
The next days (and then, months) should be interesting.