By Hilary White

ROME, November 10, 2009 ( – An article by Time Magazine blasting a senior American prelate and Vatican official has now been refuted by two of the men quoted, Robert P. George and Robert Royal, and by John Allen, Rome's most senior American journalist and specialist on Vatican affairs.

The November 5th Time piece by Amy Sullivan attempted to pit Archbishop Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura against Sean Cardinal O'Malley, the head of the Boston Archdiocese, as well as the Vatican as a whole, over the issue of the funeral of the late Senator Ted Kennedy and the Catholic Church's sanctions against pro-abortion Catholics.

The piece painted a picture of Burke as a darkly glowering conservative “bull in a china shop,” who has embarrassed Vatican officials by his outspoken defence of both the rights of the unborn and the Church's canon law. Sullivan's article, punctuated by anonymous quotes from “an American priest,” “veteran Vatican watchers” and “Vatican insiders,” implied that the Vatican wants to “muzzle” Archbishop Burke.

US Catholic political analyst and publisher Deal Hudson said the article was a clear case of journalistic politics, “a tactical strike on behalf of the Catholic left.” Princeton Professor Robert P. George told (LSN) that the quotes he had given Sullivan were used “selectively” and gave the erroneous impression that he did not oppose the lavish Kennedy funeral that became a hotspot of scandal in the US Church and abroad.

But now another quoted source in Sullivan's article, Robert Royal, the author and head of the Washington-based Faith and Reason Institute, has written to Time asking for a correction. In an email, forwarded to LSN, Royal wrote that Amy Sullivan “grossly misstates” his view in the article.

“I did not say that the Kennedy funeral was a scandal 'on par' with the priestly abuse scandal, which is both absurd and repugnant. In fact, I said that it would have been wrong for the Church to deny Kennedy a Catholic funeral.”

Royal said that he had written and still believed that “a more muted funeral” would have “shown the Church's serious reservations about [Kennedy's] grave failings. I don't know how I could have made the position any clearer.”

On Friday, in a piece for the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, senior Vatican correspondent and expert John Allen refuted Sullivan's assertion that the Vatican is trying to shut Burke out of the loop.

John Allen wrote that “Burke's influence is set to grow,” especially as the youngest sitting member of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, the body that decides who will preside over the world's nearly 3000 dioceses.

Allen wrote, that Burke “is now in a position to put his stamp on the next generation of Catholic bishops all over the world.” Allen noted that, far from being removed from influential positions, the archbishop is “widely expected” to be made a cardinal in the next consistory, which will likely put him in a position to participate in the next conclave.

Allen concludes with a direct response to Sullivan: “Whatever happens, one thing seems clear. If anyone suspected that the decision to bring Burke to Rome last year was a way of muzzling him, or limiting his influence in the United States, it certainly doesn't seem to be playing out that way.”

Read related coverage:

TIME Article Setting Burke against O'Malley Called “Tactical strike” on Behalf of Catholic Left 

TIME Got it Wrong – Prof. George Opposed Grandiose Kennedy Funeral