Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Vatican’s Cardinal Burke: Media is ‘mocking’ the Pope by creating a liberal caricature

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

VATICAN CITY, February 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rumours that Pope Francis intends to change Church teaching on abortion or homosexuality are unfounded media-generated fabrications, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said in a column this week in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court, writes that during a recent visit to the US he had noticed “a certain questioning” among many Catholics about Pope Francis’ intentions towards the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and the sanctity of life. So pervasive was the worry that Burke said many “were surprised” when he told them the pope has “affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions.”

“They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation of Pope Francis and his views,” he added.

The cardinal noted Pope Francis’ messages to the Marches for Life in Washington, DC and Rome, and insisted that Francis has strongly “reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage.”

Burke tacitly acknowledged, however, that the Pope’s style has often made Francis difficult for many to understand. “Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach,” he said. But this “tool of interpretation” he adds, can be found in Francis’ actions. Quoting Cardinal Renato Martino, he said that Francis’ ability to teach “through his actions” is the source of his “uniqueness and his magnetism.” 

Burke quotes Francis in the interview that shocked and upset many pro-life and pro-family people around the world and even drew implicit criticisms from some bishops:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. … I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

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But this quote, Burke said, did not mean that the pope thinks these issues were not important. Pope Francis, he said, wants first “to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context.” 

“In the face of a galloping de-Christianization in the West,” Burke said the pope “wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness.”

“We all know individuals who say things like: ‘Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce,’ or ‘I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality.’ The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives,” the cardinal continued.

“But his approach,” he added, “cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time.”

Burke cites Pope Francis’ many comments strongly condemning the abortion movement, particularly in his address to politicians and the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, of which Cardinal Burke is president of the advisory board. At that time, Francis condemned the modern “throwaway culture” that threatens “to become the dominant mentality.”

“The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people … who are in danger of being ‘thrown out’, expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs,” Pope Francis said.  

On other occasions, Francis has called abortion an “abomination” and said it “cries out for vengeance to God.” In 2007, then-Cardinal Bergoglio condemned abortion, even in cases of rape saying: “We aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.” Bergoglio promoted a special blessing in his archdiocese for mothers and their unborn children. 

Burke’s defense of Francis dovetails with his own many previous statements on life and family, most recently in an interview with EWTN when he said unequivocally that “we can never talk enough” about abortion. Cardinal Burke, since his days as bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin and archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri, has long been regarded by both sides of the culture wars as one of the strongest and most outspoken voices in the Catholic hierarchy in support of the Church’s moral teachings on the family and human life.

In his article, after reassuring Catholics, Burke turned some of his strongest criticisms on the media and others who have perpetrated the Pope Francis mythology. Calling them “persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth,” Cardinal Burke condemned the “false praise” heaped on Francis by the mainstream media for what they have claimed are his intentions to change or “abandon” Church teaching “which our totally secularized culture rejects.”

The enthusiasm for this false Francis, Burke said, “mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.”



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