About That "Formal Correction" from Cardinal Burke:
Forget It. The Cardinal Is Now Part of the Problem.
by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 23, 2018
A recent interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke by Catholic World Report’s Chris Altieri should answer the question when the Cardinal will issue the promised “formal correction” of the errors of Amoris Laetitia (AL), as to which he and three of his fellow Princes of the Church (two of them now deceased) issued their five dubia to Pope Francis more than year ago.
The answer: Never.
Instead, the Cardinal now appears to be lending himself to a shameful whitewash of the immense scandal AL has provoked by adopting the interviewer’s pretense that the will of Pope Francis to admit public adulterers to Holy Communion has nothing to do with it, but rather arises solely from misinterpretation and misapplication by others.
Consider this laughably loaded question posed to the Cardinal by Altieri during the January 22 interview:
Chris Altieri: How did we get here? I mean to say: a post-Synodal Exhortation is a post-Synodal Exhortation. It is not per se a teaching document. A Pope may use [one] to teach something, but Pope Francis tells us he is not teaching anything new in the document, and we believe him. It is also not a governing instrument of any kind. It does not change the law it does not pretend to. So, where is the confusion coming from?
Oh come on, will you? Francis has been promoting the “newness” of his approach to the divorced-and-“remarried” almost from the moment of his election and has spent the past five years denouncing imaginary Catholic Pharisees for their supposedly hard-hearted refusal to accept the change that “the God of Surprises” (meaning Francis) is bringing about through the operation of “the Spirit,” which was manifested in “the Synodal journey” (meaning the outcome Francis planned all along and would achieve no matter what the Synod decided).
And now Pope Francis has attached the label “authentic Magisterium” to his approval of the AL guidelines of the bishops of Buenos Aires, according to which public adulterers in “second marriages” can be admitted to Holy Communion without ceasing their adulterous relations if they deem it not “feasible” to practice continence — a blatant overthrow of the constant teaching and Eucharistic discipline of the Church, affirmed by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
This entire catastrophe, therefore, has resulted directly from the will of Francis. Yet Altieri pretends that Francis has taught nothing new and changed nothing. Just who does he think he is kidding?
Yet, sad to say, the Cardinal goes along with the gag (to put it colloquially), by pointing his finger everywhere but at the obvious source of the problem. In answer to Altieri he states (in pertinent part):
“….There has always been a certain element in the Church, which has rebelled against the Church’s teaching, and in recent times we saw it in very evident ways: For instance, in the whole debate with regard to artificial contraception which took place in the Sixties; but also this issue with regard to irregular matrimonial unions, cohabitation outside of marriage; it is all an effect, really, of secular society, in which there has been in our time a relentless attack upon the sanctity of marriage.”
A certain element? What about the Pope, whose errors in AL the Cardinal vowed to correct if no answer to the dubia was forthcoming?
The Cardinal continues to ignore the elephant standing before him:
“The only thing we can do in terms of Amoris laetitia is to read it in the perspective of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, and that means that there cannot be what some have called a revolution in the Catholic Church: The Church now accepting that people who are divorced and whose marriages have not been declared null are able to enter into a so-called ‘second marriage’; revolution, too, in terms of the Church’s constant teaching that the conjugal act rightly takes place only within marriage, in other words, cohabitation outside of marriage is always and everywhere evil. That is the only way we can interpret the document, and that is the way we have to interpret the document.”
Except that Pope Francis does not interpret it that way, but rather announces a new discipline that seven courageous prelates (originally three) have called “alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith” but Francis dares to call “authentic Magisterium.” About which disastrous papal move the Cardinal now has absolutely nothing to say.
But not even Altieri can entirely fail to touch on the rather important subject that AL would appear to overturn the bimillenial discipline of the Church as affirmed by John Paul II in Familiaris consortio. Thus, he poses another loaded question suggesting the answer he would like to receive — that AL as such is not really the problem:
“…. What is different with Amoris laetitia that creates the concern and the confusion – or is it not necessarily with Amoris laetitia, but with its implementation?”
In reply, the Cardinal says:
“Well, on the one hand it is an interpretative problem. On the other hand, it certainly is a problem of application.
“The interpretative difficulty is that the document seems to suggest [!] that there are cases apart from the case which you have just mentioned, which is the only possible case in which two people who are living together in what appears to be a marital union could receive the sacraments: Namely, they live together because, for some reason or another, they are unable to separate, but they live not as husband and wife, but as ‘brother and sister’, observing continence.
“So that is an interpretive problem, and that has to be clarified. Thus far, at least in some of those who claim to be interpreting Amoris laetitia correctly, there would be other instances.”
“Some of those” who claim to be interpreting AL? How about the Pope, for goodness sake? It is his heterodox “interpretation,” which he has now declared to be “authentic Magisterium,” on which “some of those” who interpret AL happily rely. Yet the Cardinal continues to maintain that AL needs to be “clarified” by Francis, blithely ignoring Francis’ affixation of the label “authentic Magisterium” precisely to the published clarification of his meaning and intent.
Curiously, the Cardinal goes on to lament “applications [of AL] like that set forth by the Bishops of Malta, which are simply contrary to what the Church has always taught and practiced.” Excuse me, but what about the application by the Bishops of Buenos Aires, which the Pope has approved as “authentic Magisterium”? Again, not a word about this from the Cardinal.
The next loaded question invites the Cardinal to agree that Pope Francis has nothing to do with the mess that Francis has created:
Altieri: There are people who have been heard and who have found their way to significant public airing of their opinions on this question, who have attempted, anyway, to make the Holy Father himself either a willing or an unwilling participant in this. I would like you to have the chance to speak to that.
Now, how could anyone possibly think that Francis is a participant in the admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion? After all, he has done nothing more than approve the abuse as “authentic Magisterium.” Please!
The Cardinal ducks the question by referring to the constant teaching of the Church without mentioning that it is Francis himself who is laboring to undermine it:
“…What frightens me a great deal about the present situation of the Church is what I would call a politicization of Church life and of Church doctrine. This is easily done by the secular media but it is also being aided and abetted in the present time by certain Church leaders and theologians and other commentators. This is not a question of being in favor of the ‘Francis Revolution’, as it is popularly called. It is not a question of being ‘pro-’ Pope Francis or ‘contra-’ Pope Francis. It is a question of defending the Catholic faith, and that means defending the Office of Peter to which the Pope has succeeded.”
How sad to see Cardinal Burke resort to obfuscation: We must defend the Office of Peter rather than being for or against Pope Francis. But the Office of Peter is being abused by Francis, so it must be defended precisely against his abuse, not merely “certain Church leaders.”
I could go on (there is much more to read in the interview, all along the same line of avoiding any mention of the role of Francis in the scandal), but the point is made.
And the point is this: Cardinal Burke is now part of the problem with AL because he has lent himself to the pretense that the issue is not one of an unprecedented abuse of papal power that must be corrected by withstanding Peter “to his face” (Gal. 2:11) — as Saint Paul did with the first Pope and as Burke promised he would do with Francis — but merely a dastardly departure from Church teaching on the part of “a certain element in the Church” or “certain Church leaders.”
I would respectfully suggest that the Cardinal simply stop talking about AL and leave it to the laity and a few good prelates to defend the Faith against the errors of Pope Francis. Having evidently abandoned the promised formal correction in favor of a studied avoidance of any mention of the role of the Pope in this ongoing disaster, he is now only making the disaster worse.