Pope Francis today announced that Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading conservative voice in the Church, would be moved from a senior position in the Vatican to become Patron of the Order of Malta.
In a widely expected move, Cardinal Burke will no longer be Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura – the Church's supreme court – but instead take on a largely ceremonial role for the ancient order which undertakes charitable initiatives across the world.
The 66-year-old American cardinal has been an outspoken critic of the recent Synod on the Family in Rome where many participants called for the Church to adopt less harsh language when talking about homosexuality, the divorced and remarried, and cohabiting couples.
Burke has also contributed to a book opposing proposals by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who suggested the Church permit divorced and remarried couples to receive Communion in certain circumstances. Cardinal Kasper's theology has been publicly praised by Pope Francis.
Burke last week likened the Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a recent interview though he insisted he was not speaking out against the Pope personally but raising concerns about his leadership.
He also visited Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday at the invitation of a traditionalist group, Una Voce Austria. On Tuesday he spoke on “The Sacrament and the Reality of Marriage” at the famous baroque Karlskirche (St Charles Church) in the centre of Vienna and afterwards celebrated solemn Pontifical Mass in the Tridentine rite at which he was said to have worn the cappa magna.
It was originally planned that Cardinal Burke would also celebrate a votive Mass for the Apostles Peter and Paul in the old rite at the parish church of St Leopold in Vienna’s second district on Wednesday. The parish of St Leopold is, however, incorporated to the Augustinian canons at Klosterneuburg Monastery outside Vienna, and the Provost of Klosterneuburg, Abbot Bernhard Backovsky, who is also the Abbot Primate of the Augustinian Canons, refused his permission.
Meanwhile the Pope today appointed Archbishop Paul Gallagher, a Liverpudlian who is currently nuncio to Australia, to a senior position in the Holy See's Secretariat of State.
Archbishop Gallagher, 60, will become Secretary for Relations with States, the equivalent of a foreign minister, and it is understood he will become the first English priest to hold this position. He succeeds Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who will take over from Cardinal Burke at the Signatura.
Watch Cardinal Burke speaking in Vienna about the recent Synod on the Family
Above: The cardinal pictured during the recent synod. Photo: CNS