Institutions Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Cardinal Burke outside the tent

Coat of Arms of Alfredo Ottaviani
Coat of Arms of Alfredo Ottaviani

Coat of Arms of Alfredo Ottaviani

Reading the latest rumblings of Cardinal Raymond Burke, I had a sudden epiphany: He wants to be the Cardinal Ottaviani of the Francis papacy.

Ottaviani was the leader of the conservative forces that tried to stand in the way of the work of the Second Vatican Council. As Secretary of the Holy Office (later the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith), he lived up to his episcopal motto Semper Idem (“Always the Same”) in opposing the Council’s embrace religious liberty, liturgical innovations, and just about everything else. When Pope Paul VI accepted his resignation in 1968, the AP wrote, “In dramatic fashion it signified the move of the half-billion-member church away from rigid conservatism toward new experiments in modernism.”

The most provocative thing Burke did in his interview with LifeSiteNews was to say that “’faithful’ homosexuals, ‘remarried’ divorcees and non-married couples” were “like the person who murders someone and yet is kind to other people.” His great cause appears to be to turn back the efforts of German bishops led by Walter Kasper to have the second session of the bishops’ Synod on the Family moderate the way the Church deals with such murderers.

But whereas Ottaviani remained at his high post through Vatican II, Burke was removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court after the first session of the Synod by Pope Francis — and so, as my colleague David Gibson points out, his presence at the determinative second session in October is unlikely. Thus he has to content himself with issuing his criticism from outside, in his largely ceremonial capacity as patron of the Knights of Malta.

Asked by LifeSiteNews how best to “remain faithful to the Church and to the Pope in these troubled times,” he replied, “By adhering very clearly to what the Church has always taught and practiced; this is our anchor.” Semper Idem.


About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


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  • Though everyone mocks his ceremonial post as the patron of the Knights of Malta, remember he is still an influential Cardinal….a Prince of the Church, a successor of the Apostles. The Pope has a different approach to the same end as Burke, and that is his privilege as Pope, but doctrinally they believe the same thing.

  • James C,
    successor of the Apostles? Prove that he is a successor. You can’t, and no where in Holy Scripture is Cardinal Burke’s name. Your Institution wanted power and control — riches —and oh boy did they break every commandment given to mankind.

    A question for you James: Did the Apostles torture or murder a single soul? You align yourself with the inception of this dynasty, you align yourself with what?


  • When Burke was Bishop of La Crosse (1994-2003), he did not allow men with RCC annulments to become become priests within his diocese. I know because I tried. There are a number of other bishops that adhere to that position; Eagan was another one. Divorce is the only unforgivable sin in the minds of some bishops.

  • After eight years in religious life and three years in a major Catholic seminary, I have never been able to understand the outwardly anti-gay policy of the RCC. RC clergy of all ranks (except married deacons) are disproportionately homosexual in comparison to the general population. My experience causes me to believe it is about 50%.

    Any thoughts?

  • That was not my question, sidestepper. Allow me to ask you this:

    When your apostolic succession began its crusade (that chair of Peter dictum), did any of those of the Institution torture or murder?

    ’nuff said.

  • I posted on this through another article, drwho13, and from what I have been told by reliable sources (cannot name) … yes, this is correct.

  • “Discombobulation” is when people of faith–Professing Christians, expect Washington politics to fix all that is wrong within their domain.

    It is when Professing Christians expect non-Christians to believe and “act” like they are.

    It is not when the world and those who want nothing to do with the church and it’s Christ express their desires. Living in a democratic, pluralistic society, we all get to vote yea or nay for gay “rights”, abortion “rights”, racial “rights” or 20 oz Slurpee “rights”.

    Forget the Catholics, Baptists and their bible and politics. Vote for what you want. This is OUR country. (and we do love our rights–unless they are Republican)

    It is as if the good Cardinal never read his own good book.
    “In my other letter I told you not to have anything to do with immoral people. But I wasn’t talking about the people of this world. You would have to leave this world to get away from everyone who is immoral or greedy or who cheats or worships idols. I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat. Don’t even eat with them! Why should I judge outsiders? Aren’t we supposed to judge only church members? God judges everyone else. The Scriptures say, “Chase away any of your own people who are evil.” (I Corinthians 5:9-13)

    It’s high time the church took care of its own internal affairs and left the world alone to theirs. Problem is, the church has become so much like the world, she has lost credibility to speak to the word because too may of her “representatives” either judge those outside of the church, live contrarily to their own standards, or cut-n-paste the Word of God so that the world won’t reject her–and not love her. Boo Hoo.

    She forgets that she has a “some of you used to be” message.
    ” Don’t you know that evil people won’t have a share in the blessings of God’s kingdom? Don’t fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual will share in God’s kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others. Some of you used to be like that. But now the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Spirit have washed you and made you holy and acceptable to God.”

    Perhaps the “Used to be people” are too busy hiding the facts.

    “How about a little slack for those of us who aren’t yet perfect from those who haven’t been caught yet.”

    I am not a member of the Lions Club. The Lions do not require me to live out their mandates and charters and I would resent it if they did. But if I choose to join them, I will meet kindly resistance when I attempt to change their charter to fit my personal beliefs. Could there come a day when the Lions are so desperate for new members that they reduce their charter to self-serving interests?

    What discombobulation–what a picture of today’s church, expecting the world to be like her, on her terms. And being mean about it.
    Then denying her own truths as prostituting herself trying to prove to the world that she is not anti-“rights”.

  • Prof, its too bad that you weren’t in China during the cultural revolution. You could have really sped things up for Chairman Mao. All you do, is developing caricatures, mock, ostracize and attack. You are the ultimate bigot. Its amazing that someone in academia can be sooo illiberal….spending all of his time attacking people but never engaging ideas with any nuance. Perhaps all that dope is catching up with you.

  • Here’s a thought:

    Of all the hatreds, the hatred of self is the worst. It perverts, twists, and destroys everything it touches.

  • Homosexual acts are sinful. Homosexually inclined men can become priests if they hold true to their sacred vow of celibacy.
    Do you expect the Church to embrace the gay agenda of making their sin a virtue?

  • “Homosexually inclined men can become priests if they hold true to their sacred vow of celibacy.” Yes they can Jim. Does it matter more if a priest cheats with man or woman? Remember Fr. Alberto Cutie or Fr. John Corapi?