Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, has confirmed weeks of rumours that he is being transferred to become patron of the Sovereign Military order of Malta.
Cardinal Burke, whom Pope Benedict XVI appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in 2008, disclosed the move to the website Buzzfeed.
Cardinal Burke has increasingly expressed dismay over what he perceives as failures to stress church doctrine on matters such as abortion, homosexuality and divorce.
Last week he condemned as “unacceptable” a preliminary summary document of discussions at the bishops’ Synod on the Family that expressed a conciliatory attitude towards homosexuality, divorce and other “irregular” family situations. The final document contained significant revisions to these positions.
He also suggested that information about the Synod that was being related to the outside was being “manipulated” to favour Catholics with a reformist agenda.
He told Buzzfeed the synod seemed to have been designed to “weaken the Church’s teaching and practice”. “The Pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal Church, is bound to serve the truth,” he told the website.
“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.”
He said the lack of clarity regarding what Pope Francis thought of a proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to find ways to show mercy to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics barred from Communion “had done a lot of harm”.
Cardinal Burke, a former archbishop of St Louis, told Buzzfeed he was being transferred from the Apostolic Signatura to be patron of the sovereign military order of Malta, though he said he had not received a formal order.
Pope Francis removed Cardinal Burke, along with 13 other bishops, from the Congregation for Bishops last December. Shortly afterwards he told the Catholic television network EWTN: “One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman,” Cardinal Burke said. “But we can never talk enough about that.”
Above: Cardinal Burke arriving for a session at the end of the Synod on the Family. Photo: CNS