Cardinal Raymond Burke, 75 (link, link)

    Pope Francis is reportedly contemplating actions against Burke, like taking away his Vatican apartment, and his cardinal’s salary, according to reports today in Rome (link and link)

    “You would be wise to take another path”

    “A te convien tenere altro viaggio,”
    rispuose, poi che lagrimar mi vide,
    “se vuoi campar d’esto loco selvaggio…”

    (“You would be wise to take another path,”
    he (Virgil) answered, when he saw me (Dante) shedding tears,
    “if from this savage place thou wouldst escape…”)

    Dante, Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 1, lines 91-94, link

    Dante has just met the great Roman poet, Virgil, and told Virgil of the frightening wolf he has met in the forest of the world — the lean and hungry wolf of lust and pride and cruelty in this fallen world… even in Italy, even in Rome… And Virgil tells Dante, that “this beast” (the wolf of lust and pride and cruelty) will “kill you”… unless Dante takes “another way”… out of the fallen world, toward what is… above 


    Letter #161, 2023, Monday, November 27: Burke

    The Roman website Il Sismografo (link) publishes links to dozens of stories every day, most having to do with the Church and the Vatican.

    And many Vatican journalists visit the site to begin their day — to see what is “in the news” each day.

    These Il Sismografo stories are not “vetted” for accuracy, so the mere fact that they are published does not guarantee that they are true — as we all know, we all are struggling to discern information from disinformation, actual news from “fake” news.

    However, one thing is true: if a piece appears on Il Sismografo, it — and the information it contains — is much more likely to be read widely, and known widely, than if it does not appear there, because many journalists, who are always looking for stories, are likely to note the story, and to investigate further.

    In other words, a story that is linked on Il Sismografo is a story that influences the “news atmosphere” in Rome, and this in itself is a type of news…

    So here below are excerpts from this story from today about what Pope Francis is alleged to have said about Cardinal Raymond Burke, 75, during a Vatican meeting one week ago, on November 20, to the assembled heads of all the Vatican dicasteries.

    That meeting did occur, but it was private, and no reports about what happened at the meeting have come out… until now…

    Did Pope Francis really speak these words — as this Italian magazine, The Daily Compass, is claiming?

    The Italian magazine attributes the words to “a Vatican source” and then adds “the indiscretion was later confirmed by other sources.”

    So they are claiming multiple sources for this “news” — they seem confident that it is true.

    However, I just contacted an important cardinal who told me he has not been able to confirm these words himself, and thinks it would have been “odd” for the Pope to have spoken publicly in this way, knowing that there are always “leaks” from these interdicasterial Vatican meetings…

    Or, perhaps, is it conceivable that the Pope did say something like what has been reported, but in a different context — in a self-deprecating way, as if to say to those present “this is what people may be expecting me to do,” and then laughing?

    The story has just been posted on “X” by Diane Montaga (link) so it will now spread quickly…

    As always, in Rome, the most important issue is always… who gets the apartment…?(!)

    Also below, I include a report on an action that was taken against Cardinal Burke a few months ago, when the Pope replaced him as the Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta…—RM

    P.S. Since things in Rome seem to be heating up, it would be helpful to have support for this letter. I appreciate very much the many who have already and generously given support, but the need now is considerable, due to higher costs, and, given the importance of these coming months, you may wish to make even a small donation for this free letter here.   

    Here is the story which claims the Pope told his fellow cardinals that he will “take away” Cardinal Burke’s apartment, and his salary as a cardinal:


    The Pope: “Away with Cardinal Burke’s house and salary” (link)

    By Riccardo Cascioli

    Vatican sources close to the Daily Compass: Burke was defined as an “enemy” in an announcement made to the Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The cardinal has not yet received a formal notice, but considering precedents, it is unlikely to be just a threat, which nonetheless would be a very grave thing

    “Cardinal Burke is my enemy, so I am taking away his flat and salary”. This is what Pope Francis supposedly said at the meeting with the Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia last 20 November, and which a Vatican source revealed to the Daily Compass. The indiscretion was later confirmed by other sources.

    As far as we are aware, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, currently in the United States, has not yet received a formal notice confirming the Pope’s words, but given the precedents — most recently the case of Monsignor Georg Gänswein, former personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI — there is little doubt that words will be followed by deeds.

    Nor would the difficulty in canonically justifying such a measure be an obstacle, given the contempt for the laws of the Church also shown by Pope Francis on the occasion of the removal of bishops from their dioceses (see here).

    The alleged enmity of Cardinal Burke has become a real obsession for Pope Francis in recent times, but in reality the American cardinal has been in the crosshairs since the beginning of his pontificate, probably because he encapsulates some of the elements that most annoy him: he is American and is a constant reminder of the doctrine and Tradition of the Church; and in addition he resides in Rome, a stone’s throw from St Peter’s Square, from where — the Pope will think — he can “plot” against him.

    Certainly Burke has been very clear in his criticism of the concept of synodality, which has now become a mantra intended to change the nature of the Church, and at the conference ‘The Synodal Babel’ on 3 October last, organised in Rome by La Bussola precisely on the eve of the opening of the Synod on Synodality, his arguments and his direct polemic with the new Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Victor “Tucho” Fernandez, who had called Cardinal Burke a heretic and schismatic and those who ask the Pope to “safeguard and promote the depositum fidei“, had made a lot of noise. After all, calling the Pope to task is part of the cardinals’ duty, and Francis himself has repeatedly encouraged (in words) frank and honest speaking.

    And Cardinal Burke has always strongly rejected the label of “enemy of the Pope” that they have wanted to stick on him since the beginning of the pontificate, especially since he criticised the position of Cardinal Walter Kasper who, in preparation for the 2014 Synod on the Family, explicitly called for access to communion for remarried divorcees. Burke was in good company, yet especially against him a real campaign of demonisation was focused, painted as the director of occult plots against Pope Francis (accusations that Burke has always strongly rejected).

    Before that, however, in December 2013, the Pope had already removed him as a member of the Congregation of Bishops, replacing him with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is decidedly liberal and, as it happens, linked to former serial abuser Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. And after his participation in the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ (which also featured contributions from Cardinals Caffarra, Brandmüller, Müller and De Paolis) Burke, who is a talented canonist, was also removed in November 2014 from the post of Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to which he had been called by Benedict XVI in 2008. Instead, he was entrusted with the post of Patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, a minor position for a still young and active cardinal. Yet, after the signing of the Dubia following the post-synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016), the ‘reprisal’ against Cardinal Burke continued, and in 2017 he was effectively deprived of his office as Patron of the Order of Malta, with the appointment of a special delegate of the Pope: first Cardinal Becciu and then in 2020 Cardinal Tomasi. Although he no longer had any contact with the Order’s members and no role in the whole troubled renewal of the Statutes, Cardinal Burke formally resigned in June this year, on reaching the fateful age of 75, and was immediately replaced by the 81-year-old Cardinal Ghirlanda: just to add insult to injury.

    In the meantime, however, in recent years Pope Francis has never missed an opportunity to launch personal jibes at Cardinal Burke, reaching a climax with the unfortunate (to put it mildly) joke uttered while Cardinal Burke was struggling between life and death because of Covid: “Even in the College of Cardinals there are some deniers,” the Pope said with a satisfied smile in the press conference on the plane returning from his trip to Hungary and Slovakia on 15 September 2021, “and one of them, poor man, is hospitalised with the virus.”

    The second round of Dubiapresented last July together with Cardinals Brandmüller, Sarah, Zen and Sandoval, but only made public on 2 October, will undoubtedly have irritated the Pope even more, who seems to have let go of his inhibitions after the death of Benedict XVI last January. Thus the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fernandez, was able to personally target Cardinal Burke in the aforementioned interview with the National Catholic Register in September in what, in retrospect, can be considered a warning.

    And now here we come to the Pope’s announced decision to strike Cardinal Burke directly, taking away his flat and salary, a serious and unprecedented measure, in defiance of every legal and ecclesial principle. One may think that the real purpose is to remove Burke from Rome, weakening the camp of those who resist the revolution in progress, as a Conclave approaches, but it is also a warning to those who work in the Roman Curia. The fact is that the end of this pontificate increasingly resembles in its methods, a South American dictatorship.

    And here is a story from almost 6 months ago about Burke and the Knights of Malta:

    Pope Francis names Cardinal Ghirlanda to succeed Cardinal Burke as Order of Malta patron (link)    

    By Courtney Mares

    Vatican City, Jun 19, 2023 / 10:06 am

    Pope Francis on Monday appointed Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, to succeed Cardinal Raymond Burke as the patron of the Order of Malta.

    The Vatican announced June 19 that the 80-year-old Jesuit cardinal will take on the role as the “Cardinalis Patronus,” the papal representative to the sovereign order responsible for promoting the spiritual interests of the order and its 13,500 members.

    Ghirlanda has already played an active role in the Order of Malta’s reform. He was part of the team that drafted the order’s new constitution and spoke with the pope at length about the process, along with Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the most recent special delegate to the order.

    The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is both a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and a sovereign state subject to international law.

    In 2017, Pope Francis ordered reforms of both the order’s religious life and its constitution. He approved the order’s new constitutional charter and regulations last year.

    Burke, a (then) 74-year-old American cardinal, had served as the Order of Malta’s cardinal patron since 2014. However, when then-Archbishop Angelo Becciu was appointed in 2017 as the pope’s special delegate to oversee the order’s reform, he effectively supplanted the role of the order’s cardinal patron, with Burke remaining in the post only nominally.

    Pope Francis made Ghirlanda a cardinal in 2022, one of the few men to be given a red hat as a priest without being first a bishop. Ghirlanda was given the Jesuit Church of the Gesù as his titular church.

    The Italian cardinal and canon lawyer is the former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, having served on its faculty since 1975.

    The Jesuit priest spent 10 years as a judge on Vatican City’s Court of Appeal, from 1993 to 2003. He was dean of the Gregorian’s faculty of canon law from 1995 to 2004 and the rector of the university from 2004 to 2010.

    In 2014, Ghirlanda was named a pontifical adviser to the Legionaries of Christ amid its reform following the revelations of scandals involving its founder, Marcial Maciel, who was removed from public ministry by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Ghirlanda later served as the pontifical delegate for the lay association “Memores Domini,” linked to Communion and Liberation during its reform in 2020.

    The announcement of Ghirlanda’s appointment came immediately after Pope Francis met with the Order of Malta’s new grand master on June 19.

    In May, the Order of Malta elected Fra’ John Dunlap as prince and its 81st grand master. Dunlap is Canadian and the first professed knight from the Americas to lead the sovereign state and religious order in its 975-year-old history.

    The Order of Malta said that the grand master’s audience with the pope “offered the opportunity to review the most important commitments, starting with aid for refugees and displaced persons, increasingly at the center of the Order of Malta’s humanitarian programs.”

    “From the Ukraine to disasters in the Mediterranean Sea … Fra’ John Dunlap illustrated the main activities and initiatives of the Order of Malta’s Relief and Volunteer Corps, Associations and Grand Priories, present in 120 countries with a network of 95,000 volunteers and 52,000 doctors, nurses, and emergency response experts.”

    [End, piece on the end of Cardinal Burke’s service as Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta]

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