The Washington Post, in an article, profiles Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.
It begins noting “love him or loathe him — and few are on the fence — Burke’s many pronouncements
on politics and the culture wars have given both fans and critics plenty of ammunition for their respective views”. The highly regarded canonist doing his JCD in Rome before being named defender of the bond in the Signatura. Then bishop of his native La Crosse in 1994.
However it was in his next role as archbishop of St Louis that he is best known. Appointed at the end of 2003 but serving only four years before being moved to Rome in June 2008. As the article mentions “when he was archbishop of St. Louis in 2004, for instance, Burke touched off a fierce debate by declaring that Catholic politicians such as John Kerry who support abortion rights should be denied Communion. Voters who supported them were in grave peril too, he added”. While Burke was technically correct in his reading of Canon 916, he seems to ignore that neither GOP or Democrats do anything to alter the legality of abortion because both know that it commands high public support, sadly.
Interestingly however it seems that many on the USCCB do not share Buke’s view of withholding Communion. In 2007 then-Archbishop Burke lost the election to become chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs to then-Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, with Burke getting just 40 percent of the vote.
The article goes on to mention another of Burke’s hardline positions, “Burke doubled down on those views after Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to a top Vatican job in 2008, saying that under President Obama the Democratic party ‘risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death’.’ In 2009, Burke fueled another controversy when he said that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy should have been denied a church funeral for his support of abortion rights and gay rights”. The argument that Burke makes is that only those who agree with the church on every matter should recieve a church funeral and by implication, be recieved into God’s love. Also the notion that the Democrats are the “party of death” is not only highly partisan but unhelpful. Burke seems to put at naught the value of the Democarts in protecting the poor and vuneralbe and least fortunate. He also says little about the GOP and their toxic brand of capitalism that they continue to espouse which is so antithetical to the common good it would seem to be obvious. Cardinal Burke however, seems to remain silent on this isse.
The article adds that Burke was created Cardinal-Deacon of S Agatha dei Gothi in the 2010 consistory, thus “giving him a vote in a conclave that would elect the pontiff’s successor, and put him on the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body that vets candidates for bishops in the U.S. and around the world. That gives Burke a key role in shaping the hierarchy for years to come, which he seems to be doing”. This was seen most recently when the new archbishop of San Francisco was appointed, being a key ally of Burke.
He is however no cartoon. His attack against relativism should be warmly welcomed so should his support for the Latin Mass, but his checklist Catholicism is a cause for great concern.