Hilary White

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The secular media portrays burke as a heartless, 'out-of-touch' conservative villain. In fact, Catholics love him. And here's why.

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Cardinal Burke ‘accompanies’ us as leaders should – by showing us the way

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

LifeSite’s petition to send a message of gratitude to Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke for his leadership has garnered over 19,000 signatures, and gaining. Despite the presumptions of the secular news media, there are a LOT of Catholics who love their Church, who love the teachings of the Church on sexuality and family, and who love Cardinal Burke.

As someone who has had the honor of meeting with him several times, I can add my witness to that of countless others whom he has graciously and kindly met, and say that he is one who truly is a “prince of the Church,” a kindly intelligent and courageous man who loves Christ and loves the Truth, and will betray neither for political convenience or to be lauded and praised by a world that hates both.

There are Catholics around the world who are grateful for the courage and fortitude of Cardinal Burke, who must by now, as any man would, be feeling somewhat embattled. And in this we feel a deep sense of companionship with the eminent cardinal who has for so long stood like a bulwark against the strange and disturbing trends within the Church, that were never more evident than at last month’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops.

We look for those who will walk not only with us, but perhaps slightly ahead, showing us the way. We need men, fathers, who are not afraid to be the first to take the brunt of the world’s opprobrium for upholding and trying to live the genuine – and often difficult – teachings of the Church on marriage, family, and sexuality.

In the Synod’s final document, and in subsequent discussions, the Vatican prelates have emphasized one word over and over that they say churchmen must employ to fulfill their duties to an increasingly confused and even alarmed laity: accompaniment.

Though I find this language, which has as far as I know never been used by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, to be somewhat trendy and imprecise, I think the sentiment is not entirely inappropriate. We do indeed want accompaniment on our increasingly difficult path, and we look for that in the form of courageous leadership. There is a sense in which shepherds “accompany” the sheep, but always to the front, showing the way.

We look for those who will walk not only with us, but perhaps slightly ahead, showing us the way. We need men, fathers, who are not afraid to be the first to take the brunt of the world’s opprobrium for upholding and trying to live the genuine – and often difficult – teachings of the Church on marriage, family, and sexuality.

Since the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, and since his many interviews correcting the public misrepresentations of Catholic teaching before, during, and after the Synod, Cardinal Burke has replaced the pope emeritus as the English language media’s favorite target. But as we continue to praise and defend Cardinal Burke, let us not forget the other faithful bishops who are standing up, in the face of the same opprobrium, and saying what needs to be said.

Last week, in an interview with a Polish news outlet, Bishop Athanasius Schneider used surprisingly strong language to discuss what has appeared to many observers to be a kind of coup attempt by a group of so-called “progressives,” led by the German bishops. He did not hesitate to call out his fellow bishops on what he said was a “neo-pagan” impulse to overthrow Catholic teaching, and even the very words of Christ.

And as Cardinal Burke goes out of his Curial office, we must not forget those who continue to labor in the Vatican. Among the many good men Inside, we have perhaps heard most from Cardinal Gerhard Müller who, despite the increasing opposition from his colleagues, continues to simply state, doggedly, that Church teaching cannot be changed by anyone.

During the Synod, we also heard from some of the African bishops who have for a long time been trying to tell the world that the solution to our global problems is not more contraception and abortion, but stronger families and more support for marriage. We heard last week also from the bishops of Kenya (talk about embattled!), who have alerted the world to an apparent attempt by international population controllers to sterilize millions of women in their country, under the guise of vaccinations.

We must not imagine that the ones who made the headlines in the English or Italian language press were the only prelates at the Synod, or since, who have spoken out against the prevailing trend. We must not forget Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Caffarra of Bologna, and the ones who were neither silent nor idle during the Synod itself, though the outside world may not have heard from them.

I have received many messages from people asking what is going on, and I’m afraid I can offer only the answers that everyone else already knows. We cover on LifeSite as much as we are able to confirm, but of course, there are still many questions remaining unanswered, and no one is comfortable in such a period of uncertainty, including bishops. Cardinal Burke recently said some feel the Church is “rudderless” at present, but of course, sensible people know that he was speaking metaphorically, perhaps even a little hyperbolically. We know as Catholics that the Church can never be truly “rudderless,” since it is guided by the best Pilot of all, in the person of the Holy Spirit.

But Cardinal Burke’s remark also does a disservice to himself by discounting the value to us, down here at ground level, of witness like his own, and like that of Bishop Schneider and others. No believing Catholic with access to a catechism needs to be led away from the teaching of the Church. We know the truth, and we are sticking to it like barnacles on the side of the Barque. But we do need men like Burke to keep at it, to keep pursuing every opportunity to tell the truth to an unwilling world. We need his leadership, now more than ever, not because we don’t know, but because he and others like him give us hope and strength to do the same in our own sphere of life.

I know there are a lot more out there who are doing this, bishops and priests who may not be grabbing headlines, but who nonetheless continue to follow the Divine Shepherd fearlessly, as the forces of the world grow stronger.

I invite readers to click the link above and sign the petition to support Cardinal Burke, but also to mention in the comment box (or send us an email) and tell us about the good news in your own neighborhood. If your own bishop or priest has stood strong, the world deserves to know. 

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Hilary White

Hilary is a Rome-based reporter for LifeSiteNews.