Friday, June 27, 2008

Farewell, Archbishop!

WE MUST NOW say farewell to Archbishop Burke, who today has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which is the highest judicial body in the Church.

Archbishop Burke, who is now likely to be named Cardinal, is well-suited for his new position; he is a noted expert in the Catholic Church's legal system, canon law, which is a development of ancient Roman civil law.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke and Knights of Columbus honor guard 2

Archbishop Burke with his Knights of Columbus Honor Guard; photo taken on the Feast of Corpus Christi, 2007.

Having served the Archdiocese of Saint Louis since 2004, Burke has been a champion of orthodoxy and sacred tradition.  His accomplishments include the restoration of the liturgy, supporting the liturgical arts, and greatly increasing the number of candidates to the priesthood.  The secular media, however, hated him for his emphasis on orthodoxy, making him extremely unpopular with those who have little knowledge of the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church:  this promoted division within the Church as well as anti-Catholicism among those outside.

In 1968, the world changed.  In 1967, what was called the "Summer of Love" turned into the summer of hatred and revolution a year later.  In 1968, the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, reaffirming the perennial Christian teaching on human sexuality, was strongly rejected by many of those basking in the warm glow following the Second Vatican Council.

This led to the greatest crisis in the Church since the Reformation.  Heresy, now called 'dissent', came out into the open.  The Council was now reinterpreted by these dissenters under what is called the 'hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity', which led to what is arguably a new religion under an old name, based on the principles of the Enlightenment with a bit of biblical window-dressing.

We all know the fallout from this heresy:
  • Dissent from authoritative Church teachings.
  • Ugly, iconoclastic liturgical art.
  • Dramatic loss of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
  • Great decline of the Catholic laity.  The rise of 'cafeteria catholicism'.
  • Scandalized laity due to misdeeds of the priesthood.
  • Uncritical use of historical-critical biblical hermeneutics, leading to a marxist interpretation of scripture.
  • Rejection of sacred tradition.  Secularization and destruction of sacred art.
  • A loss of the beauty of the Church and a rejection of even the concept of truth.  Moral relativism and subjectivism rejected the pursuit of living a good life in favor of hedonism.
  • Loss of popular devotion and confession, leading to widespread disrespect of the sacraments.
  • Open Marxism and a shifting of the Church's social justice mission to heretical causes.
  • Poor sacred music, simultaneously unmusical and of suspect theology. 
  • Poor catechesis among the clergy and laity.
  • Embracing of worldly trends.
  • Catholics openly belonging to organizations antithetical to the Faith.
  • Politicians openly supporting heresy with government funds, while still calling themselves Catholic.
  • Interpretation of the Second Vatican Council based on the 'spirit' of the Council, not on the actual texts, this spirit not being the Holy Spirit.
  • Dismissal of the Catholic philosophical and intellectual tradition.
  • Ugly, formless liturgies.  Bad vestments.
  • Emphasis on ecumenism with fringe religions, while practicing anti-ecumenism with Eastern Orthodoxy.
The pro-life movement, inspired by Humanae Vitae, remains the only positive outcome of this period.

One of the shining young stars of the Second Vatican Council, Joseph Ratzinger, upon seeing the revolution in the streets in 1968, realized that the Church was about suffer its worse crisis since the Reformation.  He saw that the Council must be interpreted in continuity with the entire history of the Church, and is continuing his mission as Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Burke, in his leadership of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, did much to correct the problems that started with the rejection of Humanae Vitae.

The world, of course, hates Christ and His Church, and the secular media has shown this hatred throughout Archbishop Burke's leadership of the Archdiocese.  Even this morning, a radio talk show host, nominally Catholic, reported that he is glad to see the Archbishop go: ironically, the host decried Burke harming relationships with various Liberal religious groups while not noticing that he himself was promoting hatred of the Church.  (Although this radio host is generally a decent enough fellow.) I can recall no positive news reportage of the Archbishop by the local mainstream media:  even when Burke strongly promoted immigrant rights (which presumably the media also supports) this was also reported negatively as being divisive among Catholics.  The media consistently employed a divide-and-conquer strategy, attacking either from the Left or the Right.

Liberal religion has thoroughly infected the Church in recent decades. By 'Liberal' I do not mean American-style political liberalism, for the politically right-wing 'health and wealth gospel' is just as much a part of Liberal religion as is the left-wing 'social gospel', and is equally erroneous.  This religion emphasizes the human will, deprecates God's grace, and is essentially Pelagian; it interprets scripture variously according to need, and ultimately sees it as a human-made, and not a divinely inspired text. It deprecates sacred tradition, authority, and reason, in favor of feelings and the autonomous will.  Now as a skeptical religion, one would think that an adherent, full of doubt, would withdraw from society to avoid doing harm; rather, these are quite activist!  We see this in Archbishop Burke's excommunications and admonitions of the past several years.  The media has portrayed conflict with the Archdiocese's former Polish parish as being all about money and control.  While this is partially true, that church has in recent years become an advocate of active homosexual lifestyles and heresy:  those who remember fondly a traditional, immigrant Polish parish ought to know that this is no longer the case.

Liberal religion is metaphysically incapable of being incarnated into its own material institution, for it is a void in Being, and is not a part of Being itself.  At best, in can only subvert existing institutions, and we see this with recent admonitions regarding another parish of the Archdiocese, which was cooperating too closely with a women's ordination group, and Liberal congregations of nominally-different-but-really-the-same religions.  Parishioners there have spread rumors of schism, we shall see what happens.

For years we have been told that there is a priest shortage, and that we must re-imagine the Church and have more lay leadership.  However, this shortage is now known to have been manufactured:  many young men of orthodox leanings were denied entrance into the seminaries.  But Archbishop Burke has corrected this, with a great increase in vocations.

Burke has been a great promoter of the liturgical arts, sponsoring a notable new Shrine in Wisconsin which is opening next month (he says that he will still be present for its opening), as well as a beautiful new Shrine to the Sacred Heart in the Cathedral.  He also strongly supports the old Latin Mass and its sacred music.


  1. I did a quick search of St Louis area news sites and see that a lot of hate speak is flowing about the Archbishop. While I don't live in St. Louis or the Archdiocese what I have heard of the him has been encouraging because he has been a defender of the faith in a very hate filled world. When I was much younger a man like him would have aggrevated me terribly. Because he has a very strong tendency to tell it like it is. It is my hope that "St. Louis" will get a strong and vibrant replacement for Archbishop Burke!!

  2. Of course I have only hearsay knowledge of the good Archbishop. And much of the hearsay - at both extremes - has been hate.

    But if there is any truth to the actions I have seen imputed to him, both in the press and on the net, they have not been exactly free of hate either.

  3. Irene, if you are referring to the once Polish parish of St. Stans....I believe that the Bishop was/in attempting to bring a renegade parish back into the fold...I prefer to see it as tough love!!!

  4. Mark, thank you for putting into words thoughts and feelings I have been struggling to express. I work very hard as a catechist to impute upon my candidates the truth as laid out in the CCCC and the documents of the councils. I sit in team meetings harassed, very subtly mind you, about wanting to go back to a time of oppression for women, men being forced into the priesthood and magisterial oppression. I have been brought to near tears at the vitriol spewed out upon such holy men as Archbishop Burke, my own Bishop Robert Finn, Archbishop Nauman and all the true defenders of Faith.

    I fight a desperate fight to maintain the tenacious hold I have on my own faith. Knowing men like Burke and Finn are out there fighting just as hard to keep the Church holy and one, gives me courage to continue my own fight.

    May God bless us all.

  5. Mark, how would you feel about Bishop Hermann becoming Archbishop? Born Raised and Educated in the Archdiocese....the boy from Weingarten???