Update Aug 1/2013: Zenit's original story on its interview with Cardinal Burke quoted him as saying that it's a “Communist misconception” to claim that liturgy is less important than good works. Zenit issued a correction today indicating that they had misheard the Cardinal and he had really said that it's a “common” misconception. We have amended our story below.

ROME, July 26, 2013 ( – America’s most senior Vatican prelate says the “moral corruption” of our time is “strictly correlated” with the abuses in the liturgy that came after the Second Vatican Council.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, told Zenit’s Edward Pentin that a fitting worship of God is essential to the moral life.


“There’s no question in my mind that the abuses in the sacred liturgy, reduction of the sacred liturgy to some kind of human activity,” he said, “is strictly correlated with a lot of moral corruption and with a levity in catechesis that has been shocking and has left generations of Catholics ill prepared to deal with the challenges of our time by addressing the Catholic faith to those challenges.

“You can see it in the whole gamut of Church life,” he added.

Speaking with Pentin at the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome at the end of June, Cardinal Burke explained the oft-observed connection between a love for solemn liturgy and dedication to the pro-life cause.

“It’s in the sacred liturgy above all, and particularly in the Holy Eucharist, that we look upon the love which God has for every human life without exception, without boundary, beginning from the very first moment of conception, because Christ poured out his life as he said for all men,” the Cardinal said. “He identifies himself in the Eucharistic sacrifice with every human life. So on the one hand, the Eucharist inspires a great reverence for human life, respect and care for human life, and at the same time it inspires a joy among those who are married to procreate, to cooperate with God in bringing new human life into this world.”

The prelate also stressed that a proper grasp of liturgy is “fundamental” to evangelization.

“It’s the most important area of catechesis: to understand the worship accorded to God,” he explained. “It’s only when we understand our relationship with God in offering worship that we also understand the right order of all the other relationships we have. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his wonderful magisterium on the sacred liturgy, and which he expressed so often, [it consists of] this connection between worship and right conduct, worship and law, worship and discipline.”

Cardinal Burke said it’s a “common conception” to say that liturgy is less important than charitable works. The liturgy “is the source of any truly charitable works we do, any good works we do,” he explained. “So the person whose heart is filled with charity wants to do good works will, like Mother Teresa, give his first intention to the worship of God so that when he goes to offer charity to a poor person or someone in need, it would be at the level of God Himself, and not some human level.”

The Cardinal echoed Pope Benedict’s call for a “reform of the reform” of the liturgy, stressing that the Church must return to the original intentions of the Second Vatican Council.

He said Pope Benedict widened the availability of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite because he recognized that “in the reforms as they were introduced after the Council, a fundamental misunderstanding took place.”

“The reforms were undertaken with the idea there had been a rupture, that the way in which the Mass had been celebrated up until the time of the Council was somehow radically defective and there had to be what was really violent change, a reduction of the liturgical rites and even the language used, in every respect,” he continued. The former Pontiff hoped for a “mutual enrichment” between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the rite, he added.

He also indicated that he believes Pope Francis is in “perfect continuity” with Pope Benedict’s orientations on the liturgy. “I see in the Holy Father, too, a great concern for respecting the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI and his discipline, and that is what Pope Francis is doing,” he said.

See Pentin’s full interview with Cardinal Burke here.