(LifeSiteNews) — In faraway Buenos Aires, the story appeared on a television newscast: the Pope evicted Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke from his apartment in a Vatican-owned building on the Via della Conciliazione. The news report, somewhat fleeting, was illustrated by an image of His Eminence in the cardinal’s habit. The pontiff’s measure was a reaction to one of his most constant critics. Inspiration for it, moreover, was attributed to the cardinal prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Argentinean Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández.
Rome does not tolerate criticism; it sees its critics as enemies, and the Peronist principle of “no justice for the enemy” is applied against them. This is how Monsignor Joseph Strickland was removed from his Diocese of Tyler, Texas.
We must keep in mind what the Apostle Paul refers to in his Letter to the Galatians. After his conversion, he went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Gal. 2:1). But later, in Antioch, he had to confront Peter face to face (Gal. 2:11-21), reproaching him for his hypocrisy in his dealings with converted pagans. The relationship between the two apostles was strengthened in the truth – this should be the model of the relationship between the successor of Peter and the successors of the apostles. However, the Pope is suspicious of bishops who appear to be “traditionalists.”
Some interpretations, more political than theological, present Francis as securing the unity of the Church in his conduct toward conservatives – for example, the North American Church – and the progressives of the German Synod. This is the interpretation of the ineffable Elisabetta Piqué, Vatican correspondent for the Buenos Aires-based La Nación. What is concealed is that, in reality, the Holy Father promotes “new paradigms” and pushes the Church toward that side.
The removal of Cardinal Burke has been an extreme, unpopular measure. The traditionalist majority in the United States has been repudiated in the person of an admired and beloved cleric. Here it is appropriate to recall that he, along with his colleagues Meisner, Brandmüller, and Caffarra, is the author of the dubia on chapter eight of Amoris laetitia, which the pontiff has not deigned to respond to.
But the unsympathetic eviction of Burke is one more of those measures expressing a general suspicion of bishops who appear to be “traditionalists.” Francis accepts obvious denunciations because in reality he is uncomfortable with Tradition. The case of Bishop Strickland, who was deposed in an act of spiteful revenge, explains why others are “mercied” two or three days after their fateful 75th birthday (of course they had sent their resignations much earlier, as is the norm) and why the Pope excludes from this fate those who might benefit from some sympathetic cause. The real problem lies in that provision contrary to the whole Tradition that Pope Paul VI promulgated in 1969. I have already dealt with this matter some time ago in a previous article.
Another act of liquidation is for Rome to impose a coadjutor on someone who has not asked for one; the purpose is to correct the orientation of a flourishing diocese in which progressive novelties do not enter.
If there are suspicions against bishops who are always faithful to the Church, Rome’s method is vigilance through an “apostolic visitation.” The measure is probably a response to some denunciation; there will always be gossiping nuns who will go against good bishops. “Apostolic visitations” actually offend the freedom and responsibility of the diocesan bishop. Of course the choice of “visitor” should not be left to chance but should express the purpose of the visit. There is no need to record examples; the institution of the “apostolic visitation” says it all. “I’m visiting you because I want to find out if these suspicions are true” – that’s the reason for this frequent phenomenon.
The elements I’ve recalled imply the profile of a desirable bishop according to the criteria of the current pontificate. This profile determines the choice of a priest for the episcopate; the aim is to unify the character of the successors of the apostles at the universal level. Fortunately a good choice can always filter through.
Authentic “synodality” would require that the papal monarchy express the model of relations between Peter and Paul. This characteristic does not at all contradict the dogma of primacy or the charism of infallibility.
The history of the Church has recorded numerous cases of interference by the secular power. Today there is a new risk, namely that the Church will bow to globalism and its agenda, e.g., the UN’s 2030 Agenda, which is frightening and already hinted at in the perspective of the German Synod. This is also the path adopted by the strange “Synod on Synodality,” a title that implies a contradictio in terminis.
But the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ over His Mystical Bride, as well as the protection of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Virgin Mother, open for all of us a horizon of hope.
+ Héctor Aguer
Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata