In a candid interview Monday, Cardinal Raymond Burke voiced the concerns of many of his brothers in the Synod hall and lay Catholic activists throughout the world that the public presentation of the Synod has been manipulated by the organizers in the General Secretariat.
He strongly criticized yesterday’s Relatio post disceptationem, or “report after the debate,” which the Catholic lay group Voice of the Family had called a “betrayal,” saying it proposes views that “faithful shepherds … cannot accept,” and betrays an approach that is “not of the Church.” He called on Pope Francis to issue a statement defending Catholic teaching.
“In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue,” he told Catholic World Report’s Carl Olsen. “The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.”
“The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church,” he added.
The relatio, he said, proposes views that many Synod fathers “cannot accept,” and that they “as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.”
The document, among its most controversial propositions, asks whether “accepting and valuing [homosexuals’] sexual orientation” could align with Catholic doctrine; proposes allowing Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics on a “case-by-case basis”; and says pastors should emphasize the “positive aspects” of lifestyles the Church considers gravely sinful, including civil remarriage after divorce and premarital cohabitation.
“Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable,” Burke told Olsen.
“The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called ‘revolutionary’, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.”
Burke lamented that the bishops’ interventions are not published, while the General Secretariat chose to publish the controversial relatio, which was intended as a merely provisional summary of the first week that is under review by the fathers this week.
“All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem of yesterday morning,” he said.
“While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.”
While critics of Burke's public interventions in the Synod debates have portrayed him as representing a fringe, he was elected by his brother bishops to moderate one of the three English-speaking small groups discussing the relatio this week.