28 May 2015, The Tablet

Ireland 'worse than the pagans' for legalising gay marriage

Ireland has gone further than paganism and “defied God” by legalising gay marriage, one of the Church’s most senior cardinals has said.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was recently moved from a senior role in the Vatican to be patron of the Order of Malta, told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic Society, last night that he struggled to understand “any nation redefining marriage”.

Visibly moved, he went on: “I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage.”

A total of 1.2 million people voted in favour of amending the constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry, with 734,300 against the proposal, making Ireland the first country to introduce gay marriage by popular vote.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, told RTE afterwards that “the Church needs a reality check right across the board [and to ask] have we drifted away completely from young people?”

Cardinal Burke, who speaking on the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI, went on to say “liturgical abuses” had taken place after the Second Vatican Council, after which he said there had been “a radical, even violent approach to liturgical reform”. Quoting Pope Benedict, he said that the desire among some of the faithful for the old form of the liturgy arose because the new missal was “actually understood as authorising, or even requiring, creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.”

On Tuesday Cardinal Burke presided over Mass at the Oxford Oratory, and on Wednesday he led Vespers and Benediction for the intentions of the Order of Malta.

Speaking at the lecture afterwards Cardinal Burke stressed the continuity between liturgical forms before and after the council. “The life of the Church is organic; it is a living tradition handed down in an unbroken line from the apostles,” he said. “It does not admit of discontinuity, of revolutions.”

Paraphrasing Pope Benedict, Cardinal Burke said that after the council, there had been a battle between a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture, and the hermeneutic of reform. This was because the nature and authority of the council had been “basically misunderstood.” Apparently departing from his script, the Cardinal voiced his own concern about similar misunderstandings around the upcoming Synod. “There seems to be a certain element who think that the Synod has the capacity to create some totally new teaching in the Church, which is simply false.” He went on to speak of the damage caused by “an antinomianism which is inherent in the hermeneutic of discontinuity.”

Though the talk consisted primarily in an overview of Pope Benedict XVI's chiefest intellectual contributions, Cardinal Burke adopted a more personal note in his answers to questions at the end. Responding to a question about the marginalisation of faith in the public sphere, he stressed the primary importance of fortifying the family in its understanding of how faith “illumines daily living”. ‘The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet.’

He told the audience that he was “constantly” telling his nieces and nephews to keep their family computers in public areas of the house so that their children would not “imbibe this poison that’s out there.”

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