Burke gets bumped

December 17, 2013
Source: District of the USA

Cardinal Burke's membership in the Congregation of Bishops was not renewed. Contrasted with some recent interview comments he made, one must wonder why.

The new appointments to the Congregation of Bishops were announced on December 16, from which the name of former member Cardinal Raymond Burke is absent—though he remains as the president of the Vatican’s supreme court, the Apostolic Signatura.

In connection with this latest development at the Roman Curia, it is interesting to offer our readers some comments that Cardinal Burke made just last week—on December 12 to be exact—during an interview with EWTN correspondent, Raymond Arroyo [external link to YouTube], from which we provide three extracts (note the questions have been summarized).

About Summorum Pontificum

Would it be possible that Pope Francis modify the universal right to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, as Pope Benedict XVI stated it in Summorum Pontificum?

Cardinal Burke: I don’t see it as a possibility on a couple of scores.

Number one, it’s universal legislation, and to reverse it would be a very serious act on the part of the Holy Father, and one would have to have the most serious of reasons.

But going along with that, Pope Francis has not shown any inclination to change anything with regard to the celebration of the Extraordinary Form. He has made even in the exhortation, he makes a comment about people who are too concerned about the sacred liturgy and so forth, but I don’t think that that can be interpreted as being a negative statement with regard to Summorum Pontificum

I myself, since Pope Francis has taken office, have celebrated publicly solemn Masses in the Extraordinary Form and I haven’t received any admonition not to do that."

About the reform of the Roman Curia

Pope Francis announced a reform of the Roman Curia and set up a committee of cardinals to propose to do so. Pope John Paul II was the last one to make some changes to the Curia by the constitution Pastor Bonus in 1988.

Cardinal Burke: I cannot imagine a reform of the Roman Curia which would not somehow be continuous with Pastor Bonus, the apostolic constitution which has governed the Roman Curia since—I think—1988, when Blessed John Paul II reformed the Roman Curia, because the Church is an organic body… So I can’t imagine that somehow the Roman Curia is going to take on a completely different figure. It just doesn’t make sense."

About Evangelii Gaudium

The judgment of the cardinal on the authority of this Apostolic Exhortation is interesting:

Cardinal Burke: It seems to me that the Holy Father made a very clear statement at the beginning that these are a number of reflections that he’s making, that he doesn’t intend them to be part of the papal magisterium… They’re suggestions, he calls them guidelines… I don’t think it was intended to be part of papal magisterium. At least that’s my impression of it."


Cardinal Burke’s replies are remarkable for their measured and rather conservative evaluation of Pope Francis’ intentions, while nonetheless giving the impression that His Eminence is peering at them through a confusing fog, thus unable to exactly know what the Holy Father is thinking.

As for His Eminence’s removal from the Congregation of Bishops—an important office, as it involves the appointments of bishops and thus can help to positively or negatively influence the outcome of entire ecclesiastical regions, let alone dioceses—what are we to surmise from this development?

Was this done under pressure from more liberal elements in the Curia or episcopal conferences, or even the pope himself? Or does Pope Francis envision a greater role for Cardinal Burke, but in a non-curial function? Only time will tell.