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Priest: Demoting Burke could turn out to be Pope Francis’ biggest blunder November 13, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Christendom, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, manhood, martyrdom, Papa, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, the return.

I have seen good Father Ray Blake bend over backwards to try to find a happy reason for Cardinal Burke’s demotion, opining that perhaps the Pope was actually interested to see Cardinal Burke given more time to promote concern for true family life and the Traditional Mass and so gave him a position with the time and resources (the Order of Malta being very, very rich) to do just that.

Below, in a contrary viewpoint, Fr. Benedict Keily of the Diocese of Burlington, VT presents the matter in a different way, feeling that the demotion was a deliberate attempt to reduce Cardinal Burke’s influence in all respects, but that the Pope may have blundered in so doing.  If you are familiar with Fr. Blake’s argument, see which you agree with more:

Despite the image of Francis as a man of dialogue and compromise, he is regarded in Rome as the most authoritarian pope in decades. He is also a man known to settle scores. Immediately after his election as pope, he swiftly moved an Argentinian bishop known to have been his chief opponent when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires — another “downward” promotion — transferring him to an obscure position in the Vatican bureaucracy. In the space of just over two years, Pope Bergoglio has been removing, or not reappointing, many of the key men put in place by his predecessor, Benedict XVI……..

……In today’s Vatican, the courtiers have the upper hand. It is as a patriot, a man discontented with yet loving his Church, that Burke in his new position will enjoy a freedom that until now he did not have. He will be able to travel and to celebrate the ancient Mass all over the world. He can lecture, preach, and write. And the Knights of Malta are not, as left-leaning devotees of liberation theology might believe, relics from a Dan Brown novel. Not only are their ranks filled with members of the aristocracy from every nation on earth but, far more significantly, the newer members are often wealthy and influential figures in industry, politics, and the media. The Knights — and Dames — of Malta run hospitals and charitable organizations throughout the world. Their annual pilgrimage with the sick and handicapped to Lourdes is one of the largest the shrine sees. The men and women admitted to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a state that issues passports, are devout Catholics, who both love their faith and act with generosity and commitment. It is this highly influential arm of the Church that Cardinal Burke has been “demoted” to lead.

What does this apparently inter-ecclesiastical dispute matter to the wider world? In the first place, it shows how the only large global institution that represents what might be called the traditional view of the family and society is divided, and that division is clearly bad for those who care about the future of the family and civil society. On a more positive note: This could mark the last rally of a certain Sixties mentality in rapid decline. Unless they are weathervanes tilting with the wind of ambition, the priests and bishops ordained since Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict have nothing in common with the bell-bottomed theology that, at least for a season, has been revived in Rome. [And I think this is generally true, and I do think the radical progressive generation is slowly dying out, but how long can they continue to dominate events is anyone’s guess.  I fear it may be a lot longer than we might hope, for the progressive faction has shown itself a master of political maneuvering and the ability to dominate events with a relative few.  However, that hope remains, because there are essentially no replacements in the “pipeline” for that generation of progressives, their ideology having proven barren of vocations by decades of experience. Which has made me wonder, just what are these radical modernists of the Kasper Kabal gaming at?  OK, say they do implement their radical agenda, in a few years they will all be gone and who will replace them to carry it out?  Or is it just they are so blinded ideologically that they have to continue regardless of the long-term fruitlessness of their efforts, or do they secretly hate the Church and just desire to wound Her one more time?  I will admit to being stumped, what fires a man in his 80s to make this great push so late in life?  Is it pride, is it a final “victory” to prove that one was right all along?  Cardinal Bea, the architect of “ecumenism” and, some might say, the more egregiously indifferentist statements of VII, was the same way, he was practically given up for dead on the Council’s eve and suddenly became a fireball of energy for its 4 year duration, then died just a couple of years after.  He was well into his 80s at the time.  Very strange.]

There is one possible final irony. Some have speculated that Pope Francis, who turns 78 next month, will follow the example of his predecessor and eventually step down from the Petrine office, perhaps at age 80. In any case, Raymond Burke will likely be a significant figure at the conclave to elect his successor, and already some observers are predicting that the courtiers’ foe will end up as the next king……

Meh. I won’t hold my breath  Fr. Keily links to Taylor Marshall’s post of a year and a half ago, promoting the pious hope that Cardinal Burke might be elected pope.  Didn’t happen then and it is in some ways even less likely to happen now.  There are so many variable it is very difficult to predict who might be the next Pontiff but given Francis’ predilections towards enormous change, who knows what the college of cardinals might look like in even 2 or 3 years.

Of the two views, whether Pope Francis is giving Cardinal Burke free reign and more time to be a champion of the family and traditional piety, or if he was shoved aside and given an embarrassing position almost as an insult, my cynical nature tends to make me side more with the latter.

But who am I to judge?

Sorry, but like it or not, this pontificate will be defined by that tagline for decades.  It was just so exactly what the media and the world want to hear, it will never be forgotten.

Shoot I see Rorate beat me to the punch on this. I didn’t read a single blog yesterday.

I guess that is good I am generating my own material?


1. TG - November 13, 2014

I agree with your comments. Tantum, did you read Father Z’s blog on Fishwrap and how hateful the comments are about Cardinal Burke? Father Z also mentioned how some blogs can be an occasion of sin. Sometimes I wonder if one blogger’s site that I read but don’t comment is an occasion of sin for me. That blogger’s initial begin with an M and you have a link. What do you think? (I’m interested in hearing opinions on this.)

Elizabeth - November 14, 2014

If I’m guessing correctly about a blog that begins with the letter “M”, it’s one of my favorite daily reads. If I’m guessing correctly, at times I’ve had the same thought about being an occasion of sin, I’ve resolved it for myself in that he’s speaking the truth and the truth needs to be spoken, and repeatedly, and loudly. Then again, maybe I’ve guessed the wrong blog!

2. steve - November 13, 2014

It is amazing to me that conservatives and Traditionalists within the Church always place very different spins upon the same events.

Conservatives and Traditionalists have more in common with each other than, for example, they have in common with liberals/modernists.

Nevertheless, conservatives and Traditionalists are light-years apart in so many ways, particularly in their respective interpretations of Church-related events.

Traditionalists have portrayed, for example, the Cardinal Burke move to the Sovereign Order of Malta as a slap-in-the-face demotion.

Pope Francis, according to more than a few Traditionalists, is determined to overthrow doctrine. Therefore, he must remove Cardinal Burke and his ilk from key positions within the Church to accomplish said task.

Conservatives during the past few days have insisted that Pope Francis is determined to strengthen Holy Tradition throughout the Church.

Conservatives have portrayed the move in question as Pope Francis’ way to “free” Cardinal Burke to travel the world to spread Holy Tradition and Traditional Latin Mass.

Pope Francis actually favored Cardinal Burke with a promotion, according to more than a few conservative Catholics.

Take your pick as to which interpretation may enjoy greater validity.

By the way, Cardinals and bishops…Cardinal George, for example…have acknowledged that they are at a loss to decipher Pope Francis’ Church-related agenda.

They don’t have a clue as to how to interpret/explain Pope Francis’ Pontificate.

Therefore, should we give credence to the spins/interpretations that conservative and Traditional laymen (or even priests) have placed upon Pope Francis’ words and actions?

3. steve - November 13, 2014

To follow up on my remarks related to conservatives vs. Traditionalists and their very different spins upon Church-related issues and events…

Earlier today on your blog, I posted information to yesterday’s thread related to Father Rodriguez.

Father John Zuhlsdorf, whom I view as more a conservative than Traditionalist (and that applies to the folks who post opinions to his commentary boxes), posted and linked to his web site yesterday your story on Father Rodriguez.

Many Traditionalists, not that the following applies to you, have portrayed Father Rodriguez (who is on sabbatical) as a martyr for the Traditional Roman Mass.

Conversely, in Father Zuhlsdorf commentary box on your story about Father Rodriguez, posters have linked Father Rodriguez’ situation to…

1. Shady matters that concern money.
2. Disobedience to Bishop Zeitz.

As usual, conservative and Traditional Catholics have issued very different spins on the same event.

Tantumblogo - November 13, 2014

Well there are a lot of rumors out there. I would ask those who speak so cavalierly about obedience what they would do if they were asked to violate their conscience as a matter of obedience, even if the matter rose to the level of commission of sin. It is very easy to judge from afar.

Secondly, the money issue is a red herring and if people are trying to say that Father Rodriguez was trying to enrich himself at the expense of his people they are committing a most wicked calumny. There was a fund set up at the behest of the people of the parish who did not want their money assessed anymore because they did not want to see their money used for immoral purposes. Fr. Rodriguez gave his OK for that fund, which may have been a mistake, but he didn’t have anything to do with the fund or its control, it was controlled by a separate group of individuals. For goodness sake Fr. Rodriguez lives more in poverty than any priest I know, he doesn’t own much more than the clothes on his back and his breviary. So I find these insinuations pretty rich.

steve - November 13, 2014

Thank you for your reply.

Again, the spin that conservatives have placed upon Father’s difficulties with his bishop is very different than that which I have encountered upon various Traditional Catholic blogs.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I had become familiar with the information/spin that conservatives have issued in regard to Father Rodriguez.

I am not very familiar with Father (I have read about him a couple of times via your blog). All that I can do is sift information about him that comes from conservatives and Traditionalists.

By the way, do you intend to post to Father Zuhlsdorf’s commentary box related to Father Rodriguez as Father Zuhlsdorf picked up your story and linked to your blog?


4. steve - November 13, 2014


I am aware of the blogger whom you referenced.

Keep in mind that he is European…born and raised…an Italian.

If you have lived in Europe, or spent an appreciable amount of time there, you will find that a great many Catholics in Europe have very jaded views in regard to the Church…in regard to Popes, Cardinals, bishops and priests.

In many parts of Europe, particularly Italy, you will find that far more women than men attend Mass and believe in the Church.

During Mass, the husbands and boyfriends remain outside the Church. They smoke, laugh…wait for their women.

By the way, Vatican II cannot be blamed for that situation.

Ask European men and they will tell you that such was very much the scene prior to Vatican II…and for as far back as anybody recalled.

In particular in Italy, right in their own backyard, Catholics have had a 2,000 history of the Church. They have seen the good and bad…the very bad…in regard to Popes, Cardinals, bishops, priests and religious.

They have had a close-up view of the Church. Unlike many Catholics in America, for example, Catholics in Europe do not tend to have a fantasy understanding of Churchmen.

Example: When scandals in the Church that were related in large part to homosexuality, many Catholics in America refused initially to believe that Cardinals, bishops and priests could be involved in such horrific behavior.

Conversely, countless Catholics in Europe yawned as they, their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents…centuries…often held jaded opinions of Churchmen.

Consider British television comedy shows from the 1950s and 1960s.

It was common on such shows to portray Catholic and Anglican Churchmen, even married Protestant clergymen, as homosexuals.

Until just a few years ago, Catholics in America would have been horrified at and rejected such portrayals of Churchmen.

Compared to Catholics in America, Catholics in Europe are old-timers when it comes to having experienced dark times within Church history.

The blogger “M” is simply a product of his country and continent.

For better or worse, his blunt style in regard to Popes, Cardinals and bishops simply reflects that reality.

TG - November 14, 2014

Steve, thanks for your reply and educating me about this. My dad was from Mexico and he had that type of attitude about priests. He seemed to have a distrust. I think when he was young some priests he knew may have had affairs with women. M’s blog just makes me laugh cause he is so witty but at the same time I feel guilty because I’m laughing at the expense of other people.

5. Baseballmom - November 13, 2014

I too tend to believe it was a slap and a demotion. But I also believe that Our Lord will have the final say. :-!

Baseballmom - November 13, 2014


6. El Pasoan - November 13, 2014

How about a comment from someone directly involved? My situation was identical to that of many. I went to lengths to do all I could to make sure that my money was placed so as to benefit true Catholicism and I did not want the diocese to be able to touch a penny of it.

Want to look into financial sins? Do your homework. Find out how much of the money that people intentionally tried to keep from the diocese is still in the coffers of the diocese.

Tantumblogo - November 13, 2014

Excellent point. And that’s true, from what I understand from a bit of distance little of that private fund which was absconded with (given over under obedience!) has been returned.

The Diocese of El Paso really does not want this to turn into a trial of virtue, it will not end well for them.

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