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Cardinal Burke: The pope must investigate McCarrick scandal

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NEW YORK, December 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― A leading American cardinal told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo that the pope must investigate the allegations Archbishop Carlo Viganó made against former cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

In a December 13 broadcast of “The World Over,” Arroyo interviewed Cardinal Raymond Burke on a number of controversial topics rocking the Church, including the Vatican whistleblower’s contention that the former archbishop of Washington was an active homosexual who preyed on seminarians.

“These accusations are the most serious kind and are rightly the cause of a grievous scandal in our nation,” Cardinal Burke said, “and as a result, (of) a crisis which I witness every time I’ve visited our nation since these revelations about Theodore McCarrick.”

“I am deeply concerned that the Church, for the sake of her own credibility, and more importantly for the sake of her care of souls, gets to the bottom of these accusations and appropriate discipline is applied to those who are the cause of such a scandal,” he continued.

Asked about February’s Vatican conference on clerical sexual abuse, Cardinal Burke stated flatly that there was no need for “new documents” because there is already a protocol.

“We have in the Code of Canon Law -- we’ve had it in the Church’s discipline for centuries -- the correct process to use to investigate such accusations. That needs to be applied,” said Burke, the former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura who was the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church after the pope.

“Calling meetings and developing new documents and so forth is not going to answer the question,” he continued. “The question which has to be answered is, ‘What actually happened and who is responsible for it?’ And the Church has the processes in place to do that.”

“We don’t need any new documents, that’s for sure.”

Prompted by Arroyo, Burke explained that the only person who can discipline a bishop is the pope.

“The Bishops’ Conference can have various programs in place regarding these issues,” he said, “but it’s the pope himself who has to investigate first to see if the accusations are credible, and (if) seemingly they are, then he has to institute a canonical process to get to the truth of the matter.”

If the episcopal culprit admits to his misconduct, then the process doesn’t have to go forward, Burke said. In such a situation, the “appropriate discipline” is just applied. Otherwise, there must be a canonical trial to “get at the objective truth.”

“If there is a priest or a religious who is suffering in this way, they have to turn to the discipline of perfect continence.”

Later in the interview, Arroyo mentioned Pope Francis’ recent remarks about homosexuality in the priesthood, found in his new book. Burke agreed with Arroyo that the majority of the cases of clerical sexual misconduct that have come to light recently concern adolescent boys and seminarians.

“As you say, the majority of these acts are homosexual acts, committed either with adolescents or with seminarians, young men,” the cardinal said.

He believes that the question of a homosexual culture in the clergy must be addressed, but he was careful not to scapegoat people with same-sex attractions.

“I’m not saying, and I’ve been accused of saying, that all people who have same-sex attractions prey on children and adolescents,” Burke told Arroyo.

“I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying simply the fact is most of these acts are homosexual acts, and therefore clearly there is a difficulty in the seminary formation and the discipline of priests with regard to homosexual conduct.”

Burke agrees with Francis that there must be discernment around homosexuality in the seminary, that homosexuality seems to be fashionable today and that it has influenced the life of the Church. The cardinal recalled that inculcating sexual morality was a priority when he entered the minor seminary in 1962, and thinks that this should be the same today.

“It’s true that today there’s a tremendous power (to) what is called the homosexual agenda in society, and this obviously will have effect on the young people of today, (and) also young people being called to the priesthood,” Burke observed.

“And so there has to be the same attention and perhaps even greater attention to try to assist … all young men who come into the seminary to make sure they do not have disordered attractions.”

Burke said that a young man with a deep-seated disordered attraction cannot be a candidate  for ordination to the priesthood.

The cardinal agreed that Pope Francis’ remark that priests and religious should not live a double life is an acknowledgement that there are indeed priests and religious with SSA and even those who act on them “in a sinful way.” He recommended chastity in continence.

“If there is a priest or a religious who is suffering in this way, they have to turn to the discipline of perfect continence,” said Burke.

“This is the whole meaning of the vow of chastity (and) the promise of celibacy for priests,” he continued. “Perfect continence means that one does not engage in any form of sexual activity, and that should be clear to everyone.”

Those who are not able to conform their lives to this standard should leave their ministries, Burke indicated.

“If a person has a deep-seated attraction in this way and is unable to be helped to reorder his life or her life, then it is the only proper thing for the person to leave active ministry … or the religious life,” he said.

Vatican-China agreement

Arroyo’s final question to the cardinal concerned the Vatican agreement with China and the communist government’s subsequent persecution on Catholics. Burke clearly disagrees with the decision to allow China to propose bishops to the Vatican and is not surprised it hasn’t brought the hoped-for security for Catholics.   

“My question is, why are we surprised?” Burke responded. “We know how Xi Jinping thinks. We know he’s openly declared there is no religion in China except China.”

“China is the religion,” the cardinal continued. “How can we put (the choice of pastors) into the hands of people who clearly not only reject the Church but have a manifest positive hatred for the Catholic Church?”

“How can we put in their hands the proposal of the names of bishops? And at the same time, how can we recognize those who have collaborated with such a government as legitimate pastors of the Church? To me, the matter is unconscionable.”

Burke concluded by speaking movingly of the many Catholics who have suffered under China’s communist regime.

“We have decades of confessors of the faith and martyrs because of their loyalty to Christ in his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,” he said. “And that’s what has to be defended here.

“It seems clear to me that the agreement is only to the damage of the Roman Catholic Church.”

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