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Cardinal Burke at 2016 Rome Life Forum.Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews

ROME, May 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke stated on the weekend that faithful Catholics must “resist” a perspective within the Church that seeks to undermine the truths of the Catholic faith regarding the indissolubility of marriage and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The general theme of the talk was “Martyrdom for the Faith in Our Times and it was presented within a Rome Life Forum emphasis on concerns about Pope Francis' recent document  Amoris Laetitia.

“Of particular concern to me is a growing mundane perspective, a man-centered and world-centered perspective, especially in the Church,” he said, adding that the perspective expresses itself in a “secular understanding of the divine realities.”

He was speaking to pro-life and pro-family leaders gathered at the Roman Life Forum conference in Rome on May 7. 

Read the full text of Cardinal Burke's speech here

“For example, today in the Church, there are those who refer to the objective reality of the grace of marriage as merely an ideal to which we more or less seek to conform ourselves,” he said. 

Last month Pope Francis released his post-synodal exhortation on the family, titled Amoris Laetitia. In his first response to the document, Cardinal Burke had taken issue with the frequent use of the word “ideal” in reference to Christian teaching on marriage.

In Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis wrote, “At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families,” adding that this “excessive idealization” of marriage “has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.”

At another place Pope Francis suggests that “many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus.”

In his critique Cardinal Burke had observed,

“Such a description of marriage can be misleading. It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform. But Christian marriage is not an idea; it is a sacrament that confers grace upon a man and woman to live in faithful, permanent and procreative love of each other. Every Christian couple who validly marry receive, from the moment of their consent, the grace to live the love that they pledge to each other.”

The cardinal also stated that Amoris Laetitia is not magisterial, but rather a “personal reflection” of the pope.

A number of liberal prelates and theologians within the Church have praised the Pope’s exhortation for what they say is an implicit approval of admitting to Holy Communion those Catholics who have been civilly divorced and remarried. Some cite as evidence paragraph 305 with footnote 351, which, when read together, suggest that the Church can help those living in an “objective situation of sin” to “grow in the life of grace” through the “Church’s help,” which “can include the help of the sacraments.” 


While not mentioning Amoris Laetitia explicitly, Cardinal Burke warned conference participants of an interpretation of Catholicism, in particular on marriage and access to the sacraments, that leads to “confusion” since it is not based in the truth of the faith. 

“The mundane vision, which, because it is not true, leads to confusion and division within the Body of Christ, ends up by denying the fundamental principle of right reason, called the principle of non-contradiction, namely the law that a thing cannot be and not be in the same respect at the same time.”

“For example, it cannot be that the Church professes faith in the indissolubility of marriage, in accord with the law of God written upon every human heart and announced in the word of Christ, and at the same time admits to the Sacraments those who publicly live in violation of the indissolubility of marriage. If a person who is living publicly in violation of his or her marriage bond is admitted to the Sacraments, then either marriage is not indissoluble or the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not the Body of Christ and the encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance does not require the firm purpose of amendment of our lives, that is, obedience to the word of Christ, ‘sin no more,’

he said. 

Watch the Cardinal's full talk below:

Cardinal Burke told conference participants that such “mundane” thinking must be resisted. 

“We are all tempted to engage in such worldly ways of thought. It is my hope today to assist you in the battle to resist such thinking, in order to remain true to Christ Who is alive in you through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Cardinal Burke made repeated reference to the writings and thoughts of Servant of God Father John Anthony Hardon of the Society of Jesus. He stated Father Hardon wrote:

“Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered.”

Burke added that Fr. Hardon

“…saw how decades of a thin and even false catechesis had created a situation in which many Catholics were illiterate regarding the faith. He saw how many were left in confusion and error regarding the most fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith and of the moral law written upon the human heart and definitively articulated through the word of Christ handed down in the Church.

A lack of formation in the virtues, and general confusion and error regarding the moral law was wreaking destruction and death in the lives of many individuals and of many families.”

Regarding the martyrdom of witness that truly faithful Catholics experience in our time, Cardinal Burke explained,


“Observing the great confusion and error, also within the Church, in the present time, Father Hardon frequently reminded all of the faithful that they must prepare themselves to suffer greatly, even to undergo martyrdom, in order to be faithful to the teaching of Christ in His Church.”

He expressed his “solidarity” with the Rome Life Forum conference participants, praising them for their “commitment to safeguard and promote the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life, and the integrity of its cradle in marriage and the family.”

The American Cardinal, who has given constant encouragement to pro-life and pro-family leaders, ended his talk stating,

“In the context of the Rome Life Forum, I close by expressing my deep appreciation for the martyrdom which so many of you embrace for the sake of the defense of human life and its cradle in the conjugal union of husband and wife

We embrace indifference, ridicule, rejection, and other forms of persecution because we love Our Lord and all our brothers and sisters in Him, in His holy Church.”


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