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

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March 27, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Several widely regarded Catholics have come out in defense of Cardinal Raymond Burke after a pro-homosexual group that claims to be “Catholic” demanded that Pope Francis remove the Cardinal from public ministry for linking the coronavirus calamity to man’s distance from God, especially with regard to sexuality.

Cardinal Burke, in a statement on the COVID-19 pandemic released March 21, pointed out that “a person of faith cannot consider the present calamity in which we find ourselves without considering also how distant our popular culture is from God.”

The former prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court within the Catholic Church, proceeded to list a number of ways in which society has turned away from the creator.

“It is not only indifferent to His presence in our midst but openly rebellious toward Him and the good order with which He has created us and sustains us in being,” Cardinal Burke said.

“We need only think of the commonplace violent attacks on human life, male and female, which God has made in His own image and likeness, attacks on the innocent and defenseless unborn, and on those who have the first title to our care, those who are heavily burdened with serious illness, advanced years, or special needs.”

The Cardinal criticized today’s “pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality, of our identity as man or woman, with the pretense of defining for ourselves, often employing violent means, a sexual identity other than that given to us by God. With ever greater concern, we witness the devastating effect on individuals and families of the so-called ‘gender theory.’”

Finally, Cardinal Burke mentioned “a paganism which worships nature and the earth.”

“There are those within the Church who refer to the earth as our mother, as if we came from the earth, and the earth is our salvation. But we come from the hand of God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. In God alone we find salvation,” the American Cardinal emphasized.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the pro-LGBT New Ways Ministry, claimed in a March 25  statement, that the Cardinal had “blamed the coronavirus pandemic on LGBTQ people.” He also accused Burke along with Bishop Ramón Castro of Cuernavaca, Mexico of having promoted “ignorant disinformation in the midst of a global health crisis.”

DeBernardo called on Pope Francis to “remove both men from public ministry for dangerous and irresponsible language about LGBTQ people.”

Several widely regarded Catholics, however, have come out in defense of the Cardinal.

Janet Smith, a former professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, denounced New Ways Ministry’s attack on the Cardinal as “full of disinformation, that is, falsehoods.”

“They claim that Burke has blamed the coronavirus pandemic on LGBTQ people. He said nothing remotely like that and in fact does not even mention LGBTQ people,” she remarked to LifeSiteNews.

“There is a mention of ‘gender theory’ as one of the confusions that has resulted from turning away from God, but it is not identified as responsible for the coronavirus,” Smith explained.

She clarified that the cardinal wanted to address “the fact that because of the virus no public Catholic Masses are permitted,” not blame certain groups of people for the pandemic.

Burke maintained, said Smith, “that the evils we endure are the result of being rebellious towards God; therefore to combat these evils we must turn again to God.”

“New Ways Ministry fears his letter will ignite violence against LGBTQ people,” Smith said in conclusion, adding, “It most certainly won’t, if people read what it says and recognize what it says.”

Fr. Serafino Lanzetta, a member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and Family, stressed that Burke’s statement on “the pervasive attack upon the integrity of human sexuality, of our identity as man or woman” has to be seen “in the light of many other sins denounced by His Eminence as the cause of a just punishment permitted by God with a pestilence.”

Any pestilence, including the present one, Fr. Serafino told LifeSiteNews, “is an effect of original sin and of our actual sins. Any sin needs to be repaired, but the one against God’s creation of man adds a specific immoral gravity — that of a tremendous rebellion towards God trying to replace Him with something made by us.”

“This indeed needs urgent reparation. God can never be replaced by man,” he said.

According to the priest, Catholics have a duty to proclaim the truth. “We have always the right to remind people of God’s creation, of what He did when He created man male and female. This is objective and the very foundation of a moral judgment.”

LifeSiteNews also talked to Maria Madise, international director at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). She called it “hardly surprising that the dissident pseudo-Catholic group New Ways Ministry is taking issue with orthodox prelates who imply that the behavior being promoted by the LGBTQ agenda and gender ideology is offensive to God.”

Madise called Burke’s comments about the COVID-19 crisis “caring and pastoral, inspired by authentic love of truth.”

New Ways Ministry has been condemned by a number of bishops in the past. LifeSiteNews reported in 2010 on Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Illinois, stating that the group promotes teachings that are not Catholic.

“I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” George had said at the time.

In 2011, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, considered a liberal by many Catholics, wrote, “In no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching, and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.”