Cardinal Burke also reconfirmed that Pope Francis effectively removed him from having any governance of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta while remaining its Patron.
The American cardinal known for his Catholic orthodoxy addressed several other topics during the wide-ranging interview with InfoVaticana’s Gabriel Ariza. He said comments by the new head of the Jesuit order that cast doubt on the validity of Christ’s words on marriage must be corrected. Cardinal Burke went on to say that a recent Vatican invitation and public welcome for a male homosexual head of state with his gay lover should not have occurred.
Waiting to hear from Pope Francis
Other than having greeted Pope Francis at a meeting of the College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia for Christmas, Cardinal Burke said he has not spoken with the pope since meeting with him in November. Ariza clarified with the cardinal that he has asked the pope for an audience.
“But I have not spoken to him, and he has not granted me an audience,” said Cardinal Burke. “So I don’t know what he is thinking.”
Some view the pope’s actions against Cardinal Burke in the Knights of Malta controversy as retribution for the dubia submitted to Francis regarding his Amoris Laetitia document.
Cardinal Burke reaffirmed for Ariza how it was necessary to make the dubia public because of the rampant confusion in the Church about fundamental questions with regard to intrinsic moral evil, the right disposition to receive Holy Communion, and the indissolubility of marriage.
Cardinal Burke mentioned that there are additional cardinals who support the dubia beyond the four cardinals who signed it.
It is not clear whether there will be a formal public correction to Pope Francis, he said. Normally, before taking that step, the cardinals who brought the dubia would approach the pope again to tell him personally that the matter is so grave that they as Church leaders must correct it.
“And I trust that the Holy Father will respond at that moment,” continued Cardinal Burke.
The matter must be approached with “great respect and delicacy,” he told Ariza. “And I do not want to suggest a date that would in any way affect negatively the handling of the matter or would show disrespect to anyone involved.”
Trouble within the Knights of Malta
Asked by Ariza about the nature of his role with the Knights of Malta after Pope Francis’ February appointment of Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu as special Vatican delegate to the Knights, Cardinal Burke responded, “I have no role right now. I have a title, but I have no function.”
The journalist had first asked the cardinal whether the crisis in the Order of Malta was over. Cardinal Burke told him it was a difficult question to answer.
“For the moment, I am completely removed from any involvement with the Order of Malta,” he said. “While I retain the title of the Cardinal Patron, the Pope has made clear that the only person who can treat questions of the Order of Malta in the name of the Holy Father is Archbishop Becciu. So I don’t know.”
The world’s oldest chivalric order has been the center of turmoil for months involving the Order’s identity and sovereignty. The controversy revolved around Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager’s involvement in condom distribution via the Order’s charitable work and subsequent violation of his promise of obedience in refusing to resign when asked.
Questions have also been raised over some Knights’ involvement in Freemasonry, and a potential conflict of interest involving members of a Vatican commission appointed to investigate the Order and a very large bequest made to the Knights.
Cardinal Burke confirmed in the interview that Pope Francis had earlier directed him to expel any Freemasons’ within the Knights of Malta.
However, in an unprecedented and controversial move, Pope Francis took over the sovereign Order, asked its Grand Master to resign, reinstated von Boeselager and created the special delegate appointment, effectively erasing Cardinal Burke’s role as Patron.
Something else is not right
Cardinal Burke told Ariza in regard to the disorder within the Knights of Malta that specifics of the bequest must be clarified.
“Because to any person with common sense there is something very strange going on,” he stated. “Regarding this large bequest, a part of which at least was left to the Order of Malta, there is no clear knowledge about who the donor is, what is the exact nature of the bequest, how it is being administered, and that is not right. Those things have to be clear.”
Cardinal Burke went on to say it was very strange that three people directly involved in the bequest given to the Order should be on the so-called “group” investigating the Grand Chancellor’s dismissal and ensuing recommendation that he be reinstated.
And “it does seem strange,” Cardinal Burke suggested, that shortly thereafter von Boeselager’s brother was named to the Commission of Control for the Vatican Bank.
“You had your hands tied,” Ariza queried Cardinal Burke, to which the cardinal replied, “Yes. I respect the order of the Holy Father, and I have nothing to do at the Order right now.”
The cardinal told InfoVaticana he did not know whether his removal as Cardinal Patron was an intended part of the crisis within the Knights of Malta. “Certainly, one thing is clear, that the reinstatement of the Grand Chancellor was a principal objective,” he said.
Cardinal Burke also addressed recent comments by new Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa Abascal that Jesus’ words against divorce were “relative” and subject to “interpretation.”
“This is completely wrong,” Cardinal Burke stated. “In fact, I find it incredible that he could make these kind of statements. They also need to be corrected.”
The head of the Jesuits contended that Christ’s words “must be contextualized ” because “no one had a recorder to take down his words.” Cardinal Burke termed this as “unreasonable.”
“To think that words in the Gospels, which are words that, after centuries of studies, have been understood to be the direct words of Our Lord, are now not the words of Our Lord because they were not tape recorded,” he said. “I can’t understand it.”
“It is a serious mistake that needs to be corrected,” the cardinal continued, and the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), “the Pope’s organ for safeguarding the truth of the faith and morals,” can make the correction.
The wrong impression
Cardinal Burke also criticized the recent Vatican welcome for Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel with his homosexual male partner for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.
Pictures were published in the media of the homosexual couple being welcomed. Bettel tweeted afterward, “It was a great pleasure and honour for me and Gauthier to be welcomed by the leader of the Catholic church.”
“I think something has to be done to address the public image that is given by such acts,” Cardinal Burke said. “In the past, the Holy See simply, in a very discreet and respectful way, refused to permit such a thing.”
Such displays send the wrong message, he said.
“We have to return to that because by openly permitting this, the very strong impression is given that now the Holy See approves such situations,” said Cardinal Burke. “So that has to be made clear.”
Similarly, the cardinal pointed to the Vatican allowing population control zealot Paul Ehrlich to speak at a biological extinction conference. Ehrlich made a presentation in February at the invitation of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences chancellor Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo.
Ehrlich is one of many individuals invited to present at the Vatican who contravene Church teaching. The cardinal said his invitation to speak is “a prime example” of the Holy See sending the wrong message.
“I think too the terms for choosing those who are invited officially to come and to speak to the conferences at the Holy See have to be clear,” Cardinal Burke said. “I don’t understand how people who have openly opposed the Church and her teachings can be invited to this kind of conference.”