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Cardinal Raymond Burke: ‘Feminized’ church and altar girls caused priest s …

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18, shortly before he lost his post as prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature. He is now patron of the Knights of Malta, based in Rome. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on Oct. 18, shortly before he lost his post as prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature. He is now patron of the Knights of Malta, based in Rome. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

(RNS) Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis’ push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic Church has become too “feminized.”

Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican’s highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” Burke said in an interview published on Monday (Jan. 5). “I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

“It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of (a) priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys,” the former archbishop of St. Louis told Matthew James Christoff, who heads a Catholic men’s ministry called the New Emangelization Project.

“If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically,” Burke said.

The Catholic Church dropped its ban on girls assisting the priests during Mass in 1983, and today it is common to see more girls than boys helping on the altar. Only one U.S. diocese, in Lincoln, Neb., still bars altar girls, though a number of individual parishes have barred them in hopes of encouraging more boys and men to consider the all-male priesthood.

In the interview, Burke also blamed gay clergy for the church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity” were the ones who molested children.

Researchers have disputed that claim, and experts note that the reported rise in the number of gay men entering the priesthood since the 1980s coincided with a sharp drop-off in abuse cases.

Burke, 66, spoke to Christoff in December during a visit to La Crosse, Wis., where Burke served as bishop in the 1990s before being named archbishop of St. Louis. In 2008, then-Pope Benedict XVI called Burke to the Vatican to head the church’s top court and made him a cardinal. That prestigious position lent weight to his increasingly sharp and direct criticisms of Francis, who succeeded Benedict in March 2013.

In an unusual move, Francis effectively demoted Burke in November, shifting him from his job in the Roman Curia to a largely ceremonial post as patron of the Order of Malta, a global Catholic charitable organization based in Rome.

Vatican observers suspected the switch would actually give Burke more freedom to speak his mind, and in this latest interview the cardinal doubled down on themes he has often struck: that liberalizing changes in both society and the church, especially “radical feminism,” have gravely undermined the Catholic faith since the 1970s.

Burke said he recalled “young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time. These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women.”

He said that “the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church” as well.

The focus on women’s issues, he said, plus “a complete collapse” of teaching the faith and “rampant liturgical experimentation,” led the church to become “very feminized.” That turned off men who “respond to rigor and precision and excellence,” Burke said.

“Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women,” he said. “The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.”

Burke, a liturgical traditionalist as well as a doctrinal conservative who is renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments while celebrating Mass, also said that “men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.”


About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


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  • Wow. Strange man with little insight or self knowledge. Appropriate attitude for middle school, perhaps.

  • Is this clown for real? Really – allowing girls as altar servers and women in the sanctuary causes boys to not want to be priests as adults? I think all you need to know about him is that he is “renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments.”

  • Good article, except for the cheap shot in the last paragraph about the subject. No need for it, but for Gibson, it was perhaps irresistible.

    As for the subject of the piece, the cardinal is flatly wrong about what’s causing a priest shortage.

    The obvious answer has to do with much more long-term trends in society that predate the rise of radical feminism and is unrelated to it.

    The rise in the modern world of the belief that human beings are somehow incomplete or psychologically abnormal if they are not sexually active with anyone is obviously one factor. Also, the explosion in economic opportunity and mobility beginning across the West after the Protestant Reformation meant that the priesthood would lose its attraction and its monopoly on societal prestige for bright young men.

    And of course, the church’s decision to continue with priestly celibacy despite such societal changes is the ultimate factor here. That doesn’t mean it should change — but it does mean that if it doesn’t change, it must count the cost and realize that the priest shortages will continue and perhaps worsen.

  • So many people in the church today need to open the Bible and a look at
    themselves. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists many sins right with homosexuals
    yet so many in the church only want to talk about the gay marriage and
    abortion issues when gettting drunk,being mean/sharp tongues,gambling,
    premarital sex,jealousy,coveting/greed are all just as wrong/rampid. They
    need to do a much better job of confronting all of the sins. We must Repent!
    Taking the Lords name in vain and also idolatry in any form are also wrong!
    1 Corinthians 5 and 6 both need to be preached along with Luke 13 as well.
    Luke 13 says for all of us to Repent or perish not continue to practice sins.
    Bible say Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We all must Repent!

  • If there was ever one man who’s ignorant theology and philosophy embodied everything wrong with the Catholic Church, that man was Cardinal Raymond Burke. Thankfully he has been demoted, though not removed entirely from leadership. It takes a long time to turn around an institution as big as the Catholic Church, but I’m hopeful we’re moving in the right direction. At least by cutting back on fools like Burke, the church is at least trying to stop digging a deeper hole.

  • He understands the foibles of contemporary culture, but his analysis of why there is a shortage of priests is plainly mistaken.

  • “experts note that the reported rise in the number of gay men entering the priesthood since the 1980s coincided with a sharp drop-off in abuse cases.” That is something new. So which experts are these? And what are the numbers that show more gay men joining in the 80’s? I guess all those priests molesting teen boys were NOT gay? That doesn’t make sense. Hetero men, even priests, are usually interested in teen girls – not boys.

  • The vastt majority of child molestation, whether opposite sex or same sex, is committed by men whom everyone around them would describe as thoroughly heterosexual. Witness Jerry Sandusky.

  • And here I thought that men joined the priesthood because they were called by God. But then, I learned only a few days ago that gay people tear down the entire New Testament, and that the central point of christianity is not the resurrection, but the virgin birth.

  • Gibson, Burke may be an old man unable to frame an analysis beyond his attachments to a different set of cultural and religious norms, but you have no excuse! Your commentary is also trapped in 21st century liberal norms and you seldom have much more insight beyond your own biases. Then your last dig at Burkes penchant for traditional garb illustrates your both your childishness, lack of self control and lack of objectivity. You provide NO evidence of your claim about an increase in homosexual priests coincided to the 80s and the drop off in sexual abuse cases. If anything, the increase of homosexuals in the priesthood coincided with the late 60s, early 70s, the huge number of incidences of abuse, and only after these priests were retiring in the 90s did we see a huge drop off in abuse cases.

    While Burke’s or any other persons claim that homosexuals were responsible for child abuse is cruel and simply not accurate, and not fair. However, it is also ludicrous to try to deny that the vast majority of abuse was at the hands of pedophiles with a homosexual orientation! Homosexuality does not equate to pedophilia , but Catholic Church priestly sex abuse does does very approximately equate to homosexual pedophiles! To deny this is simply denial of the truth!

    And while Burkes comments in general are off base, there are kernels of truth that correlate more to the larger social changes in society. Nevertheless the feminization of the entire culture has clearly had an effect on the Church. And much of it has been good! But also , Burke does have an certain insight that in all of Christianity , all Churches have experienced the faith being more associated as a “woman’s” thing. There has clearly been a feminization of Christianity. And while not necessarily a bad thing, it has had other impacts. Im not saying it was the cause of child abuse or lack of priests, but there is clearly a correlation between the increase in homosexual priests (pedophile homosexuals) , the incidents of child abuse and the precipitous drop in vocations. Gibsons account is simply wrong!

    Early in Pope John Pauls IIs papacy, he began to reform the seminaries to ensure candidates had a mature sexuality. There is no data showing an increase of homosexuals in the priesthood starting in the 80s! The data shows fewer homosexuals have been entering the seminary since JPIIs pontificate. And I would dare to say that an aspect of Burkes point is supported here by saying that Pope John Paul IIs strong masculine image is what led to what many younger priests call themselves – a JPII Priest!

    Burke may have trouble stringing together a coherent argument on the subject, but Gibson is equally inept at writing on the topic and clearly unprofessional in attempting to portray Burke as feminine himself for “wearing lace”. And such a comment , alone, should further discredit Gibsons ability to write professionally about Catholicism. But with his legacy of equally off base articles, hes proven himself unworthy to the task!

  • If there are “boys” who don’t want to be priests because there are girls serving Mass or women who read the Scriptures and are Eucharistic Ministers, then they should not be eligible to be priests.

  • Misogyny is not a virtue to be emulated and it certainly is not appropriate for a pope. We have had far too many and do not need any more. Ever.

  • I don’t think he is necessarily a misogynist, but he is not exactly a profound or deep thinker, either. It’s pretty astonishing that he attributes the fall-off in priests to least obvious causes, while ignoring the obvious ones — the long-term changes in sexual and economic norms that transcend such things as radical feminism, and how priestly celibacy makes it difficult to adapt to those long-term changes. How any priest could get that wrong is frankly astounding. It’s a central question that should be on the forefront of their minds.

  • Cardinal Burke is spot on in his assessments. The Catholic Church is becoming more and more like the ineffectual Protestant churches because they have changed since Vatican II, all for the bad. Low vocations were not a problem before Vatican II, nor are they today for the orthodoxy religious orders. Non-Catholic bigots (read some of the comments for this article) hate the mention of these facts because they are bigots who have lost the faith.

  • The bulk of the interview is about fatherhood and manhood. Gibson is dishonest by framing this interview as being about priesthood. This article actually proves Burkes point, that society has made speaking of masculinity an anathema.

  • Hmm, I do not think there is anything Cardinal Burke could do or not do, say or not say, wear or not wear that would change anyone’s decision to smear him, laugh at the lace, or just generally toss ignorant words in his direction. So, go pound sand! Here’s something you can be spittle flecked towards me, “Blessed are you when man shall revile you….” etc. What are your plans for the first few seconds after this life is over?
    To quote Phil, the Duck Commander, “We’re all gonna be six feet down someday”.

  • Who dresses this guy? What is the size of his “walk-in-closet”? Who pays for all of this finery? Does anyone really care what he has to say? Why does the media pay any attention to such a “leader” who professes such unfounded and unsubstantiated garbage? Oh, I get it, when all else fails, blame the WOMEN in the RCC !

  • “… renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments while celebrating Mass…”

    Actually, his office calls for SPECIFIC episcopal and cardinalatial appointments and vestments when celebrating Mass. Not exactly attire he “chooses” of his own volition. Please avoid obvious insinuations. It only discredits the dignity of your profession.

  • As for Cardinal Burkes vestments, and other Latin mass Cardinal’s, Bishop’s, priest, we the members of the Latin Mass society’s PAY for many of these vestments of Pre vat 2 , You can not say the Latin Mass in vestments that look like bed sheets with holes for your head, In the Latin Mas, we all face one way, imagine if you wee on a bus, you pay the token and sit down all facing one way
    with the driver, the problem in the last 45 years since 1970, that if the driver of the bus would face you driving it would be a wreck,, and that has been the biggest problem a wreak of the mass, no real worship to Our Lord in the Tabernacle, because these priest had place the tabernacle to the sides of the wall or closets .Our Bishop Thomas Paprocki, had asked all priest to place the tabernacle back to the center of the sanctuary again. The Latin Mass gives all glory to Our Lord, if you would read the CANON of the mass, listen to those words. I get more out of the Latin mass, there are no jokes said by the priests at the sermon times, just good holy talks on the sacraments of the church, a holy mass is said. Mostly young people want the latin mass and that 1960 crowds are dying out, the Latin Mass seminaries are full, ck out the FSSP and others, also, there is over 187 diocese in the USA and 183 have the Latin mass, one is opening, one a month.

  • The nastiness many of the commentators like you have shown towards Cardinal Burke says more about you then it does about him.

    There is nothing strange about him. Simply put he is a good man but you and others find goodness repulsive and much like little devils you cannot contain your hatred.

  • My thoughts exactly, a handy pre-screening process for unhealthy vocations. I feel the same way about the men Cardinal Burke supposedly counseled who were afraid to marry because they feared women might stand up for their rights – these men were clearly not suited for marriage.

  • One diocese was mentioned as having no altar girls – Lincoln, Neb. That diocese, unlike so many others, has no shortage of vocations.

  • Just google Raymond Burke and get a load of his attired in his many yards of watered silk and bejeweled slippers like Lady Bracknel or the Dowager Empress and realize just how out of touch and out to lunch he is…a caricature of Catholicism if there ever was one! He is the Dick Cheney of the hierarchy – griping and grousing as the Church of Pope Francis and the 21st century leaves him behind in the dust of the Renaissance.

  • Newsflash; men and women have a completely different nature, this is Church teaching, a different nature which necessitates different roles and qualities

    e.g. that of being called to priesthood.

    To deny the fact that alter boys to priests are what squires are to knights is to bury one’s head in the sand.

    Countless psychological studies will show that men identify with other men differently than they do women. And boys will be less attracted to what they regard to be feminine roles.

    Hehe, you pointed out that he wears priestly vestments… you know the same ones every priest who is a man wearsm, great argument!

  • “Also, the explosion in economic opportunity and mobility beginning across the West after the Protestant Reformation…”

    Hehe it’d have been better had you just said the Protestant Reformation, whose varied theology taught there was often no need for priests.

    Interesting as your points are, it could be that the divorce epidemic (hence the divorce of sex from true marriage) was a fruit of feminism. Which in turn has lead to the hyper-sexualised culture in which men cannot conceive of a life of continence.

    Furthermore, this sexualised culture in which man is ironically detached from true intimacy with woman is further supported by biased court systems which (as studies have proven) scare men from marriage prospects and create mistrust and deviousness among both parties.

    If the Church were to enable marriage for priests, it may double the priests but half their time, and half the quality of their time for the following reason;

    There’s a detached “do not touch me” quality to priests that enables them to act better in the person of Christ who was also celibate.

    Christ was not celibate for any lack of passion, rather it was an abundance of passion which caused Him to more intimately tend to His bride the Church.

    And so it is good through discipline, to foster this passion for those men acting in His person as priests.

  • Just commenting on what I see. Glad you know the Cardinal so well and can vouch for his kindness. Others do not agree. As for spewing hatred, look in the mirror.

  • Jonna, I doubt you personally know the Cardinal, yet you had very little problem expressing an opinion about him. Why should Michael need greater personal knowledge of Cardinal Burk to defend him against your derogatory expressions? I wholeheartedly agree with what Cardinal Burk said, the Catholic church is awash with feminists, and I’ll go one step further and say society as well, is bloated with arrogant, self serving women that are ruining our good men and boys with their feminist agenda.

  • Actually, the Church is and has been awash with radical masculinists for some time. How anybody can look at the gender make up of the hierarchy and see a “feminist” take over is beyond me.

  • As an atheist, these church issues could not interest me in the slightest; however, as a clinical psychologist, I cannot help but wonder if Burke is being demonized by the press precisely because he refuses to run with the politically correct pack. The surveys and studies issuing from both the mental health professionals as well as the American media do dovetail with a stunning conclusion: 95% of the victims of sexual abuse have penises as do their perpetrators. To spell out the obvious, then, they are of the SAME SEX which, utilizing the derivative from the Greek, is HOMOSEXUAL. You see, “Homo” in Latin means “Man” in the sense of human being; while “Homo” in Greek signifies “same.” All these intramural and, frankly, boring Catholic issues apart, Burke is 100% correct in his assertion about the sexual orientation of the predators. None dare call it, “Reason.”

  • The “to the root” feminists were brainwashed years ago.They yearn for continued relevance.The ‘thunderbolt”style of conversion of heart is the only solution for them.Cardinal Burke makes sense.

  • Willima henry-Read Romans 1:18-32 and Psalm 14:1. Evolution is impossible!
    The Case for Christ and Jesus among other gods are good books to read. The
    Bible is the Truth! Read Psalm 22:16-18 and Isaiah 53:3-7. God/Jesus are real!

  • Who here with five minutes to live, OK, ten, will spend them still grousing about Cardinal Burke, lace and the Catholic church?
    Real men go to their knees. Tried it lately? After the first time, you’ll wonder how you got along without it.
    Time is running out. Four minutes now…

  • Misogyny runs AMUCK in the Catholic religion. And so does the continual secret abuse of the innocent and the fact is it can not be covered up any longer nor can it be blamed on asinine excuses. Thank GOD he/she is EXPOSING all of this, FINALLY.

  • I totally agree with Cardinal Burke. The Church is completely over-run with women who are more like men than women – about time the author took a look at some of them instead of criticising a good man like Cardinal Burke. And absolutely, the problem in the Church is a homosexual one because the facts speak for themselves: the vast, vast majority are boys over the age of puberty, not girls as would be the case with pedophilia. Good on Cardinal Burke for telling it like it is. It is high time journalists spoke the truth instead of covering up the situation.

  • There is nothing so effeminate as the dreadful caftans sported by many of our priests. Give me the traditional vestments any time.

  • The vocations are growing in the traditional orders because there are plenty of men who attend the Traditional Latin Mass.

  • To be pedophilia the boy or girl must be under the age of puberty – most abused in the Catholic Church were boys over the age of puberty – so the perpetrators were homosexuals.

  • Yes, Deo gratias for Cardinal Burke. He has more supporters than detractors and is a future Pope of the Catholic Church.

  • Parting shot from someone who was demoted, and who probably rued and hated the Vatican II Council reforms, Yes, I’m certain the priest abuse scandal is a direct result of having altar girls. Oh wait, when most of the boys were abused, there were no altar girls. Maybe that’s his problem. If he had those kind of proclivities the pool of male servers got ‘whittled down’ as a result of Vatican II. Also, I thought the some in the Church are always talking about revering women, and yet he uses the term ‘feminization’ as a pejorative. I guess girls and women in the Church should have no roles other than laundering the vestments, cleaning the rectory, cooking for the priests, and procreating. i wish him well in Siberia, or wherever he finds himself in his new assignment, which he clearly so richly deserves..

  • It’s interesting…I used to be a big fan of “girl altar servers” as we have five daughters. A friend of mine mentioned that her son didn’t want to serve any more because when he was assigned to serve with girls, they bossed him around and corrected him all the time. First, I was disagreed with her, thinking her son was being too sensitive. Then my girls came home after serving and commented how “hard” it was to serve with a certain boy…that he didn’t know what to do and they had to “tell” him everything. I pay attention now and see how girls are wired to do things correctly and how boys would do better to be “told” by the priest…not another altar server. Our girls no longer serve…it truly is an opportunity for young men to learn what it takes to be a priest.

  • Perhaps if the church would open itself to the notion of female priests, some of those altar girls would be ready to move in to fill all those vacancies of male priests.

  • I attend the Extraordinary Form (Latin) Mass in a small town where our average attendance is 50-70 people on the average Sunday. As you well know, the Latin Mass is characterized by many that some are railing about here. Altar boys, ad orientem, elaborate ceremonies, etc. There are two FACTS that stand out at this Mass: 1. Men really like it, and in families where there is disagreement as to which Form is preferred, it is almost always the man that prefers the Latin Mass. But, interestingly enough, the woman usually wins, and the family attends the Ordinary Form. 2. It is a seedbed for vocations. We have had four new vocations that sprung directly from this Mass IN THE PAST YEAR! Out of a congregation of 50-70 people.

    Go ahead and rail, leaning strongly on your emotions, but facts such as these cannot be argued. Cardinal Burke said what he did because he knows those things to be true. Do some digging. Compare high vocation rates with how feminized a parish or diocese is. You’ll find they’re not.

  • Speaking of ignorance-His Eminence has not been “demoted”- only changed jobs. And I am sure you will be able to “turn around” the Church. Maybe remake it in your image and likeness?

  • I grew up in Lincoln and can vouch for the fact that there’s nothing to do there. No wonder the diocese attracts celibates.

  • Just teach your daughters to be polite. Boys and girls go through a “know it all” period – at different ages. Help them out, don’t pull them out.

  • “Researchers have disputed that claim, and experts note that the reported rise in the number of gay men entering the priesthood since the 1980s coincided with a sharp drop-off in abuse cases.”

    Funny how Gibson offers plenty of links to sources when making other editorial claims, but this one goes unsourced. that’s because it’s false, and he knows it. Where was the editor on this one?

    First, name your “researchers.” Second, name your “experts.” Then show the data on homosexuals entering the priesthood by year (hint: it didn’t “rise” after the 1980s). What, there isn’t very accurate data available on this, and it’s mostly anecdotal? Then how can Gibson make the claim?

    This, and the entirely gratuitous insult in the last paragraph. Gibson is an ideologue posing as a neutral reporter. Catholic media should pick up on this and stop publishing him – let him stay on religion news and the post, where his opinions reflect the anti-Catholic perspective of the publications.

  • Interesting comments, Jack. You hit on some other, quite feasible societal changes besides radical feminism that likely contribute to the decline in religious vocations.

  • priestly celibacy, like a vocation, are considered “charisma”, gifts from god. apparently, god isn’t giving those gifts.

  • “95% of the victims of sexual abuse have penises as do their perpetrators.”

    I guess half a truth is like half a brick– you can throw it longer and harder. you have just contradicted the last 50 years of sexual abuse research. The overwhelming majority– between 75-90% of the victims– are girls. Half the time, the perpetrator is the father, step father, or father surrogate.

    PS With a statement like that, I don’t believe your an atheist.

  • Consider this take off on a well known story ….

    Once there was a Church that felt that a lack of vocations would spell it’s demise and prayed incessantly for vocations ….

    Along came gays who said “we’ll serve” – the Church said “No, God will save us!”

    The shortage got worse …

    Along came married men who said “we’ll serve” – the Church said “No, God will save us!”

    The shortage got worse …

    Along came women who said “we will serve” – the Church said “No, God will save us!”

    Finally the Church died – when it appeared before the pearly gates, it chastised God – ” I believed in you, why didn’t you save me!?”

    God said – “For Pete’s sake, i sent you gays, married men and women and you rejected them all ….”

  • I agree with you. What a sad excuse for prohibiting her daughter’s from serving at liturgy and a horrible example on serving the Lord in general. Altar servers should receive appropriate initial and remedial training if necessary, and boys will learn a valuable life lesson about accepting help from others when needed. Honestly, I’m astonished at the unhealthy attitudes parents instill in their children.

  • The Church has never taught that men and women have different natures. Roles yes–natures, never.

  • Doesn’t look like my comment from this morning was posted, so, here I go again.

    You are using the words and thoughts of Bill Donahue, which are ridiculous. This isn’t a “homosexual” problem. It is a problem with people who have sex with under-aged people, children, people who look up to an authority figure. It is wrong, and it is further wrong because of the fact that certain bishops protected them by moving them to other parishes. You are trying to defend and/or deflect the sins these people committed by claiming they are homosexuals.

  • No, Sharon is not right on. She is somehow trying to deflect the problem and push it onto homosexuals when, in fact, it is a problem of these priests molesting underage kids. It is a problem in the Catholic church, especially when so many bishops protected these criminals.

  • To the ‘woman taken in adultery’, did Jesus say “Neither do I condemn you…” and a) “Everything’s cool, sex is just another indoor sport, or b) “Go and sin no more” …?
    What did she do?
    By the way, if a certain 15 year old named Meriam had not said “Be it done unto me…”, there might not be male priests for you (plural) to ridicule. On the other hand, if the Church is just a fairy tale, why do you (all) bother…?

  • Except certain…sexual things have to happen for molestation to occur, so it clearly involves sex. Both/and, not either/or.

  • You are aware that priests all over the world – especially in the Eastern Rite and growing traditional Roman Rite are “allowed those traditional vestments”, right?

  • Good for you, Charlene. Women don’t belong at the altar – we belong in the pews, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  • Because they have to go along with the rest of society and what’s considered cool and acceptable. All very Christian of course.

  • What does your comment have to do with the first, except yo showcase your fascination with the sex lives for others?

  • We need more Holy Priests like His Eminence. The problem is that modernism has taken hold within the body of the Church. That there is no right or wrong. We are all theologians and philosophers. Who know what is right for us and we don’t need anyone telling us what right and wrong is. How easy we forget that Our Lord Jesus Christ established His Church, The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to teach us the Faith which comes from Sacred Tradition and Scripture. While the Church is Perfect the members that make up the Church are not. May Our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother have Mercy on all of us.

  • Hi Steve: I wanted to reply earlier but have been on the road, and many comments here but I wanted to answer yours.

    There is a good deal of research on this aspect but the main and best and most comprehensive study is of course the “Causes and Context” study by the John Jay College researchers.

    Link here:

    The USCCB also has it on its site.

    I’d have linked to it but couldn’t easily find a way to break out the data on gays and abuse. Many other studies have also shown no link.

    As for the number of gays in the priesthood, it has been a commonplace observation by many — and Cardinal Burke may be lining up with this given his critique of the post-Vatican II church — that there has been a “gaying” of the priesthood, or, in another pejorative term, a “lavender mafia” that has taken over.

    That’s highly disputable, but even if the number of gay priests is rising, as the critics say, that corresponds with a sharp dropoff in abuse complaints since 1980, as the data show.

    One last point: I like Cardinal Burke very much. He is invariably gracious and a congenial and open person to interview.

    Best, David

  • Thanks, Bill. I am critical of radical feminism (as opposed to original feminism), but I honestly don’t believe it can blamed for the decline in priests.

  • Re: Altar boys being used as an entree into the priesthood … I was an altar boy back in the day (and before girls were eligible). No serious effort was ever made to recruit me into the priesthood, and I never heard of recruiting going on with other boys I served with. On the other hand, I do recall the occasional sermon, to the whole parish, about the need for vocations, and discussions back then (i.e. in the mid to late 70s) about how numbers of new priests were way down.

    So as far as I can see, the waning numbers of priests predated the 1983 introduction of altar girls, and the connection between being an altar boy and becoming a priest wasn’t particularly strong.

    The Cardinal is forgetting that the socio-economic forces that once encouraged certain classes of men to become priests, have more or less dried up. During the Middle Ages, many younger (and unlanded/untitled) sons of nobility opted for the priesthood as a way of having a livelihood. As the modern era dawned, the priesthood became a way for some men to have what was essentially a white-collar career (literally and figuratively) rather than a life of hard labor.

    Nowadays we don’t have untitled and landless nobles who need some way to make their fortunes in life, and there are many education options and white collar careers available.

    Look, I get that the Cardinal doesn’t like women and opposes things like feminism. But that doesn’t entitle him to make things up in order to rationalize his dislike for them or to blame them for his own Church’s failings. If his Church wants more priests, it needs to create new incentives to attract them, to replace the incentives that used to exist. It really is just that simple. And as a Cardinal, it’s partly his job to do it. By blaming the decline of the priesthood on external factors, all he’s doing is putting off making changes that might actually help.

    In other words, it’s counterproductive. Sort of like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, as they say.

  • William Henry, I am a theist who has an atheist friend who is a clinical psychologist. I am going to ask him tomorrow about the statistic you just cited. He’s one of the most fair-minded people I know, so I’m confident I’ll get a well-informed and accurate reply.

  • Age does matter. Girls develop social skills earlier. And if you read the famous old book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” you know that my gender generally doesn’t like receiving help unless we ask for it. Of course, one of our flaws is that we don’t like to ask.

  • Quite clever indeed, but you are assuming that the Church is a human-conceived institution. Obviously it doesn’t see itself that way and never did. From its perspective, it is simply following the mandate given it from the beginning.

    I am not a Catholic nor do I believe in apostolic succession the way it does, but I do understand why it can’t act the way you want it to.

    A good albeit imperfect analogy would be asking a vegan organization to allow cattlemen to run it.

  • PsiCop an altar boy….hmmm…..reality can be stranger than fiction….

    Anyway, I agree with your basic analysis.

  • The fact that Jesus’ apostles were all men does not say anything about who should be priests. My department happens to consist of all men right now, but that says nothing about whether we’d hire a woman. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say “ordain only women.”

  • Right, because humility isn’t a Christian virtue. Remember Matthew 7:1: Judge not, that ye be not judged. Seems to me the Pope has taken that to heart; Burke (and perhaps you) might do well to do likewise.

  • Correlation causation. Do you seriously think that if Vatican II hadn’t happened the world would have ticked merrily along just as it was??? VII happened in 1965! One of the most turbulent and changing decades in a long time was between 1965 and 1975; there was an enormous upheaval in social mores during that time, and VII or no, the Church would have been affected. The outdated notions that priests can’t marry (dating back to the Middle Ages, and instituted to make sure that inheritances passed to the Church) and that women shouldn’t be clergy are a huge part of what keeps young men out of the priesthood today.

  • And what you say is the whole point.
    In the Church, in reality, it is your nature, not your role, that make you who you are.

  • This man is indefensible. Young boys do not want to be with girls???? Holy Crap, it started with me at ten. I wanted, wanted, wanted. None the less, I dated and thought I would go to hell if I did not become a priest because I certainly had the calling and was as smart as necessary. So I dated passionately until July, she went to the convent and I went to the seminary. Eight years later I was ordained against my better judgement because I didn’t want to go to hell for refusing a call. That lasted for seven years and I gave it all up and decided on hell. My lovely wife bore me two children, boy and girl, Boy wanted to be with girl at age nine and he didn’t care at all if it was on the altar. What goes around comes around. Am I still going to hell? My kids don’t think so. This guy is prime amongst those destroying the church. Not me, although I don’t care.

  • The Church teaches that men and women have different bodies, if you have a different body, that means you have a different nature.

    The SEPARATE roles are dictated BY the nature of being a man or a woman.

    A woman cannot be a father, a man cannot be a mother.

    Furthermore, fatherhood and motherhood are completely different, otherwise the Church would be using the terms synonymously not separately.

  • Christ’s decision to only ordain men, combined with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit working in those men and their successors meant that it was easily discerned; that no woman could ever be made a priest because of Christ’s example.

    Catholicism spans the Old testament too, so it was important that Christ’s first apostles had knowledge of it which gentiles didn’t (at least not initially before the Church was established). It was for this reason that Christ chose jews who had knowledge of the scriptures (even though he could have chosen at least one jewish woman who had this knowledge, he didn’t).

    Christ also came for the gentiles, who were to be brought into the Church, the Church with a priesthood which was to mirror the Old Testament where only men were priests.

    Note that even in the priesthood of the Old Testament; jewish women could not be priests, and so after Christ, neither are women gentiles.

    Priesthood is a spiritual fatherhood acting directly in the person of Christ the man. Women cannot be fathers because they are not men and hence cannot be priests.

    I think, there’s plenty more weight in the Church’s view than in the view of secularist sentiment.

  • A priest is a spiritual father acting in the person of Christ the man.

    A woman cannot be a priest because she cannot be a father, by nature she’s prohibited. Your “department” is not comparable to the priesthood.

    Further note that Christ involved women in His ministry, very capable, faithful, loyal staying with Him during His passion while His apostles abandoned Him…

    you’d think he would’ve ordained one of them. Yet he didn’t.

    “Ah! Ordaining a woman would be scandalous that’s why”

    No more scandalous than the manner of his teachings or his death.

    Then you have the authority Christ left Peter, and the Holy Spirit, through which we know by his successors, women can’t be priests… end of.

  • It’s amazing that as a priest who has been a confessor, Burke would place blame on someone else. But then, this shouldn’t surprise us. After all, haven’t we been told that the very first man blamed the first woman for his transgression?
    Isn’t this what abusers do? We all will be called to account for our own failings. Blaming them on someone else won’t absolve us, and it won’t reform our lives.
    Saying women don’t belong at the altar because Christ only ordained men is also abusive. Christ did not ordain the Apostles; he commissioned them (Mark 16:14-16).
    The ordination anointing ceremony was created by those who were in authority. Would the understanding of the sacrament be different if women had held positions of authority during the ceremony’s formation?
    Isn’t the altar the place where all are to bring their offerings? After all, isn’t it written we are no longer slaves or Jews or Gentiles, male or female?
    By whose authority did the woman anoint Christ for his sacrifice (Mark 14: 3-9)? She recognized her sins and was repentant. If we are to follow Christ’s example, it is the penitent who anoints our leaders to serve.

  • There seems to be a few inaccuracies in this article. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, 230.2 confirmed that lay people, including women, could perform liturgical functions. Some priests interpreted this to include altar serving. Not all or even most priest did. Most waited until in June 1992 the appropriate authority in Rome confirmed that priests who allowed female servers were not breaking a Law of the Church. In a meeting on 11 July 1992 with Archbishop Fagiolo. the Pope agreed about this. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree confirming all this, with the express authority of the Pope, on 15 March 1994. Then in 1994, the majority of churches open their doors to altar girls. The decrease in altar boys and the both men and women finding their place within the church as nuns or priest/brothers happen prior to the majority of girls been allowed. I don’t know if this inaccuracy came from Cardinal Burke or Mr. Gibson, but either, the statements make no sense.

  • Of course, you also list no citations, just your expertise, which like your atheism, I have reason to doubt. And you confirm all of it with your crack about “politically correct” are your desire to lay the scandal at the feet of gay men.

    The John jay report came out in 2004. Do you know what it says? “The John Jay report found that 81% of the victims were male; and of all the victims, 22% were younger than age 10, 51% were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 27% were between the ages of 15 and 17 years.” these abuse figures for boys are substantially above the figures for the general population, where in some 10-30% MAXIMUM of the victims are boys. none dare call it reason to make the obviousonnection: ACCESS to boys, as opposed to ACCESS to girls.

    Of course, you could also go a bit further and look at a similar organization which has a major abuse problem on its hands, and a major abuse scandal which so far has been relatively under wraps, though it threatens to break out every once in a while.


    Since the 60’s and 70’s, they have had this abuse problem. Since that time, they have explicitly forbidden any gay man from holding any position within the organization. Since that time, the VAST majority of the scout leaders have been married men, who are considered heterosexual by all who know them. the problem is not and never has been gay men or homosexuality. The problem is and always has been pedophiles, pedophiles with access, and pedophiles who use the smokescreen of “dem homos” to shield themselves at other people’s expense, and allow them to keep their hands down the cookie jar’s pants.

    contrary to your claims, the media and the politically correct pack are not distorting reality. YOU ARE. Nicholas Grothh, one of the foremost experts on child sexual abuse in the country, if not the world, has stated repeatedly that his research has shown that gay men are no more likely to molest a child than a heterosexual man, and often are less likely. It’s the sexually confused and fearful, the confirmed pedophiles, the opportunistic predators, who are dangerous to children.

    In other words, your lame attempt to conflate child abuse with homosexuality is simply that which has been done for centuries. The result is that innocent people are blamed for the crimes of a few, and the abuse is allowed to continue.

    Stuff that in you politically correct pipe and smoke it.

  • You might check what I wrote above regarding child abuse.

    Regarding gays in the priesthood, I seriously don’t know how anybody could find out that piece of information. No one walks into a notoriously homophobic institution, and says “I’m gay. Give me a job.” And no one is explaining how someone who is intrinsically disordered with an intrinsic tendency towards grave moral evil is somehow getting called by God to the priesthood, becuase that calling is the only way you can get in. The church says so, and they have the precise tests to prove it. God wants gravely evil people to handle the Host?

    This is simply ONE anecdote. A dear friend of mine, as gay as they come, decided around 20 years ago that he had been called to the priesthood. He began his studies, and his relationship with his partner became a celibate one, which was fine with the partner for medical reasons. If anyone has ever had a calling, it would be he. When he was ready to apply for his ordination, the bishop told him “no way! You’re just too gay!” Not a question about his vocation, but a description of him which ought to have been completely irrelevant.

    I would conclude that there is no way for your average uncloseted gay man to enter the priesthood. so any claims about the gays fixation of the priesthood rests upon anecdotes, not reality. That being said, I’m sure there are a lot of gay men in the priesthood. I suspect the vast majority of them, like the vast majority of heterosexual men, are maintaining their vows– ALL OF THEM.

    This attempt to pin the abuse scandal on some alleged homosexual problem in the church stands contrary to catholic theology, common sense, and actual knowledge of the subject.

  • Sharon’s playing word games. Since she used the word pedophilia instead of the more common pedophile, I’m pretty sure she knows that attraction to children who are in puberty is called hebephilia. Perpetrators against those children were certainly not necessarily homosexual. And lest we forget some priests abused girls as well.

  • Traditionalists are often close-minded and want to hide in the past rather than engage with the present. or else their mothers have way too much control over them.

  • Actually, there is a growing appeal to the Traditional latin mass even in modern times.

    So it’s oppressive to try and dismiss what is a modern trend as one of the past.

  • Thank you for trying to make some sense out of this troubling article. If we read what Pope Francis has actually written and said, we see that his message is true to Church teaching and not very different from Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Paul VI. I think he is just trying to engage people who feel left out. I came of age during the feminist era and I can say that some good things came of the movement. But the sexual experimentation component of the era hurt men and women deeply. We need reform, in the Church and in Society, to recover a sense of God’s will and calling.

  • Assuming of course christ was celibate……I don’t remember any documents saying he was or wasn’t…

  • The implications of His divinity in the historical source of the Bible, combined with the implications of sacred tradition in the Bible…

    we know He didn’t take a wife or commit fornication.

  • Dudley You seriously need to look into history my man… The historical FACT is that just because he wears silk and lace DOES NOT make him to be feminine. Just because men nowadays do not wear silk, DOES NOT mean that it isnt masculine. Look at what the Kings of Old wore. A 2000 year old Church, has 2000 years worth of historical clerical garb. and to add, the lace is for Ornamentation, so not as to look plain for special Feast days. Sorry.

  • Dan AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I am glad everyone is expressing his/her comments about the Cardinal’s opinions of feminizing the church. I am sure PF is aware of it and I am just wondering if he has said something about it. The lack of vocations among young me to the priesthood I think is not due to just one cause but a great number of causes. First, times have changed. The world has become so well informed that the abuses which had practically disillusioned young men to become priests have contributed greatly to this situation. In an effort to to modernize the religious family by not requiring both the priests and nuns to wear their habitual garb to distinguish them from the public, the public has also diminished its respect for the vocation. There was a time when the religious commanded so much respect that it became attractive to some who cannot make up their mind about what career they wish to pursue. Furthermore, some young men in Europe particularly wanted to avoid being drafted by Hitler and others tothe army and then sent to fight in the war. This is one of the reasons why there were so many German young men who became priests. Of course, after the 2nd World War, the economy took off and life has become easier and safer. Modern inventions made travel so much easier and people became so intrigue about what other countries had to offer. Hence, young men had a chance to choose what they really want to do of their life. So let us not trivialize the failure of the Church to attract more young men to the priesthhood. There are so many more significant causes, not certainly the Cardinal’s fault nor the Pope’s. What we can do is to support our Pope for the reforms he is trying to pursue to revive the spirituality of those who are really Catholics because the leaders do not make the Church, but the quality of its members.

  • Christ didn’t ordain anyone. He had female disciples whom the male chroniclers decided not to refer to as such, though Christ treated them as disciples. It was a female disciple who was honored with the task of telling the despondent men that the Lord had risen.

  • What does celibacy have to do with divinity? Jesus teaches that physical purity is not the goal, but spiritual purity of heart. You imply marriage would make Him not divine. How so?

  • No, we do not know that Jesus “didn’t take a wife” – if you want to support this, respond to Ron Deremer, who very diplomatically points out that there aren’t “any documents saying he was or wasn’t…”

  • If you really believe what you have written, you should look at the societies which have adhered most closely to Church doctrine to see if the results have been as wonderful as you think, Ireland and the Philippines, for example.
    Ask your friends from Ireland how they like the quality of the priests that dominated Irish family law for the last couple of generations.
    Ask your friends from the Philippines if they feel their country is characterized by true intimacy between man and woman – given the lack of legal divorce in the Philippines, in your opinion this must be guaranteed.

  • Well that’s great and there’s your solution. The TLM for the guys and the New mass for the gals. That way we don’t have to mingle-we’ll do that for y’all as supportive catholic gals. Fair enough? You can have your guys preach to your kind of guys.

  • My cousin’s son decided he didn’t want to be an altar boy, but her daughter became one. Cardinal Burke is 100% right about everything he’s saying. God Bless this man.

  • There’s no biblical basis for it. You sound like you need a different church, one which accommodates your beliefs.

  • “Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural.” I don’t know about Cardinal Burke’s experience, but all four of my children (two boys, two girls) got along equally well with members of the opposite sex; no “natural” repulsion, as Burke claims.

  • I agree with most of what he says. I don’t like altar girls either, I think it discourages young men from becoming priests. I also agree that there are many women involved in the Church, they don’t need to become deaconess. whether it feminizes the Church too much, I’m not sure. It saddens me that Pope Francis encourages discussion on such topics as female deacons, I think it only confuses the laity. There are too many people around the altar before Communion, I wish we could find a way to lower the number.

  • “Love his dress, but someone should tell him that his purse is on fire.”
    Punchline to an old joke.

  • There are a number of reasons for the decline in numbers of men seeking ordination to the priesthood. These are not among them.