Burke throws his biggest fans under the bus
Must be Monday…
The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently-issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “On Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.
Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful, and potentially a source of scandal not only for the faithful but for others of good will who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.
But don’t worry! I’m sure the Africans will save us!
Faithful Catholics around the world love Cardinal Burke. And in truth, there is and has been much to love. He is a good and holy man who loves Our Lord and His Church. He has, for a very long time, been one of the few voices of doctrinal sanity in a hierarchy gone mostly off the rails. Our coverage of him in these pages has, for this reason, been universally positive.
But during the Synods, I noticed an alarming thing happening. Whenever Cardinal Burke made a strong statement about Church teaching that appeared as though it could be construed as a criticism of the pope, he would quickly and urgently seek an opportunity to put such a notion to rest. This happened not just once, but several times. Here’s an example from October, 2014. Another from April, 2015.
Steve, I’m sure, doesn’t want to be the one to say it, so I will: Burke has never been the great white hope everyone imagines him to be. It was mostly a case of the Catholic conservatives believing the secular press when they called him a “hardliner” and all that. We were desperate for it to be true, but I think they mostly did it because they didn’t have Ratzinger around to call nasty names anymore. The “liberal” paradigm requires a villain, no matter how ridiculous it is in real life.
I am acquainted with Cardinal Burke, at least a little, and honestly folks, he’s a good guy but a company man to the core. In all the outrages of the last three years, he has done the same thing over and over. He has either remained silent (Lalalalala Laudato Si… I can’t heeeaaar yooooouuu!) And, as Steve said above, each time he has said something publicly that has been taken by the press or anyone else as critical, he has instantly dived for the phone to backpedal as fast as he could.
I know people who have worked with him, and who probably will continue to do so. He did some pretty fun stuff at Synod 1, reportedly calling Walter Kasper a liar to his face in front of a bunch of other bishops, but he’s not the Guy. He never was. The really hard truth is, there isn’t one. The clericalist impulse in modern churchmen is just too strong. No one is coming to save us.
I realize it’s a hard habit to give up, but we really, really have to stop looking for a superhero to rescue us. We hate the idea that we’re it. We’re the ones stuck with the task of calling it like it is. The only bishop I think I still have any respect for (for the moment) is Athanasius Schneider, and he came right out and said recently that the task of defending the Faith is being laid on the lay faithful.
I got this tonight in an email from a longtime reader and FB chat-buddy:
This pope makes me ill. I have many atheist friends. They love him, and they endlessly attempt to stuff him into my face declaring that I must now side with them because my Pope said so, and as Catholics have no choice but to believe what our Pope says, unthinkingly.
This all sounds very good to me. He is exactly what we have needed all this time. He is forcing the remaining believing Catholics to learn and defend their Faith, and even the simple laws of rational thought, something we have not had to do in a long time.
[Btw, Steve T, this is what you say to someone who says that to you: “If you’re an atheist, and the pope agrees with you, there’s something pretty seriously wrong with the pope. He’s not supposed to be confirming you in your grave sins against the first three Commandments. Popes are supposed to be Catholic. If you like him because he’s not Catholic, that kind of logically just makes him a bad pope.”]
We’re it, guys. Sorry, but it’s true. We’re just going to have to get on with the task at hand as best we can.
On yer bikes, lads.