Yesterday (January 9th), the Remnant published Michael Matt’s recent interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke.
If you’ve not yet had an opportunity to read it in its entirety, I would strongly encourage you to do so. What you will find is that the interview offers a mixed bag; excellent questions, telling answers, and missed opportunities.
Michael, just as one might have expected, opened by asking Cardinal Burke to comment on Amoris Laetitia; specifically, its authoritativeness and whether or not it is merely scandalous or perhaps even “savors of heresy.”
Cardinal Burke took the opportunity to restate his initial, and decidedly tepid, response to the poisonous text:
Well first of all, as I stated from the beginning, the very form of Amoris Laetitia, and, actually, the words of the Pope within the document, indicate that it is not an exercise of the papal magisterium. And the way the document necessarily is read, as with every document, is in the light of the constant teaching and practice of the Church.
What this tells me is that Cardinal Burke’s actions in this matter are still being guided not so much by his understanding of Amoris Laetitia as by his misunderstanding of the papacy itself.
Specifically, he gives every appearance of having embraced a form of “creeping infallibility;” operating on the false assumption that grave errors cannot be taught by the pope, though he does seem to allow that grave errors may possibly be held on a personal level by the man who is pope.
That, presumably, is why he is determined to insist that Amoris Laetitia isn’t “papal magisterium,” and this in spite of fact that this “Apostolic Exhortation” (addressed to the faithful of the entire Church), when read “in the light of the constant teaching and practice of the Church,” plainly teaches blasphemy and heresy.
As for how authoritative the document is, as anyone with even a modicum of Catholic sense knows, it isn’t the least bit authoritative, properly speaking, inasmuch as it does not bind the faithful in any way whatsoever.
That is not to say, however, that Amoris Laetitia isn’t a deliberate “teaching” act; it most certainly is, and it plainly teaches error.
With all of this said, it will hardly come as a surprise that Burke’s subsequent comments are all over the map.
For instance, he once again chose to categorize the controversial portions of Amoris Laetitia as “at best confusing,” saying “they must be clarified.”
Nonsense. There is nothing in the text that needs to be clarified; Amoris Laetitia plainly contains propositions that were condemned almost verbatim by the Council of Trent.
Burke states, however:
So certainly, without the clarification of these questions, there is a potential of scandal.
A potential of scandal?
He can’t be serious. If what we’re witnessing today doesn’t qualify as actual scandal, then I don’t want to experience what does.
Cardinal Burke moved closer to the heart of the matter, saying:
With regard to the question of heresy, one has to be very attentive to material heresy and to formal heresy. In other words, material heresy: are there actual statements in the text which are materially heretical? Are they contradictory to the Catholic Faith? Formal heresy: did the person—namely the person of the pope who wrote the document—intend to proclaim heretical teachings? And the last thing, I don’t believe myself at all.
And I think with regard to the first question, the language and so forth is confusing and it’s difficult to say that these confusing statements are materially heretical.
As he seems to confirm later in the interview (we’ll get to this momentarily), Burke almost certainly knows very well that material heresy is present in the text of Amoris Laetitia.
In any case, the million dollar question concerns formal heresy; i.e., whether or not Francis “intends to proclaim heretical teaching.”
This, Cardinal Burke doesn’t believe at all, and the reason appears rather plain; as stated above, his view of the papacy is such that he considers it virtually, if not literally, impossible.
This, unfortunately, would seem to tell us everything we need to know about how far he is willing press forward, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
With regard to the dubia, Cardinal Burke said, “they’re very honest questions and they merit an honest reply.”
Prior to this, however, Michael Matt, to his credit, had asked, “Don’t you already know the answers to your five questions?”
Bravo! My friends, the importance of this question, and Burke’s answer, cannot be overestimated!
The cardinal replied on behalf, it would seem, of all four authors of the dubia:
Certainly we do [already know the answers to the five questions]. But the important thing is that the pastor of the universal Church, in his office as guardian of the truths of the Faith and promoter of the truths of the faith—that he make clear that, yes, he answers these questions in the same way that the Church answers them.
This confirms what has been stated in this space numerous times; the dubia under discussion here is not (as my friend Robert Siscoe insists) merely a request for clarification concerning certain objective facts – it is tantamount to a warning issued with the intent of giving Francis the opportunity to either convict or acquit himself of formal heresy.
I my view, it is plain: Cardinal Burke is admitting to using the dubia in essentially the same way a prosecutor leverages the power of interrogation; challenging defendants with questions to which the evidence in hand already definitively answers.
In other words, the four cardinals (as I wrote the day the dubia were published) have put Francis on public trial – either he “answers these questions in the same way that the Church answers them,” or he will have judged himself a formal heretic. It’s that simple.
So why has Francis failed to answer plainly? (Once again, I feel compelled to state my opinion that he most certainly has answered in precisely the manner one might expect of a duplicitous modernist.)
Cardinal Burke gives us his opinion, and in so doing he indicates that (deep down, anyway) he knows very well that Jorge Bergoglio is a formal heretic.
Michael Matt asked Cardinal Burke to comment on the degree to which he and the other cardinal-authors of the dubia have been castigated by certain “members of the hierarchy.”
While neither Michael, nor Cardinal Burke, mentioned Francis by name, the ring leader of these attacks is clear to all concerned; as such, Burke’s response clearly applies to Francis as much, or more, than anyone else. He said:
What I see in these intemperate reactions is a sign that the people who don’t want to answer our dubia in fact realize that they are not on solid ground. They can’t answer the dubia correctly and so they try to discredit the person who raised the questions. It’s an old human reaction, but it’s mundane, it’s secular. It has no place in the Church.
Please allow me to translate. Burke, for all intents and purposes, is saying:
What I see is a sign that Jorge Bergoglio doesn’t want to answer our dubia; in fact, he realizes that he is not on solid ground. He can’t answer the dubia correctly and so he tries to discredit the person who raised the questions. It’s an old human reaction, but it’s mundane, it’s secular. It has no place in the Church.
Though Cardinal Burke refrained from speaking as plainly as I’ve written, the “translation” above is nothing more than the logical, sum total of his very own words.
Before you get too excited, however, recall that Cardinal Burke is among the disoriented; a man conflicted, and ultimately (as we will see) a man of the Council.
When asked what the promised “formal act of correction” might look like, Burke provided an underwhelming response:
Well, it doesn’t look too much differently than the dubia. In other words, the truths that seem to be called into question by AL would simply be placed alongside what the Church has always taught and practiced and annunciated in the official teaching of the Church. And in this way these errors would be corrected. Does that make sense to you?
Micheal replied, “Yes, absolutely,” but to me, it makes no sense at all.
If the bitter experience of the past five decades has taught us anything, it’s that simply juxtaposing truth alongside error without plainly condemning the latter (in this case, Amoris Laetitia) and its purveyors (Francis chief among them) is a fool’s errand.
The reason Cardinal Burke is unable (or unwilling) to recognize as much is simple, as I just stated; he is a man of the Council – that regrettable event wherein this dereliction of Apostolic duty was given papal approbation; only to infect the entire sacred hierarchy even to this very day.
As readers of this space are all-too-well-aware, the errors of the Second Vatican Council lie at the very heart of the present crisis; i.e., Amoris Laetitia is cut entirely from conciliar cloth.
Michael had a magnificent opportunity to invite Cardinal Burke to connect the dots. He asked:
I’m wondering, is there any concern in your mind that what we’re seeing now is in fact a following of some sort of continuum of that spirit of Vatican II that has less to do with Francis and more to do with a new orientation of the Catholic Church altogether.
Not to be unfairly critical (I have no idea how much time Michael had to prepare for the interview, or whether or not this question was perhaps asked spontaneously), but I have to say that I was disappointed to see it framed in reference to the “spirit of Vatican II.”
Michael knows as well as anyone that what we’re seeing now is in fact a continuum of the very text of Vatican II – not just an amorphous “spirit” unrelated to the Council’s errors.
In any case, Cardinal Burke immediately seized upon the implication, saying:
That is a legitimate concern. And whenever I hear this language—the ‘spirit of the Vatican II’—I am immediately alerted because there’s no question, it’s been demonstrated and can be demonstrated more that a lot of what happened in the Church after the Second Vatican Council, which invoked the Second Vatican Council, had nothing to do with what the Council Fathers taught.
We saw it in the devastation of the Sacred Liturgy and in other aspects, as well. So I think that what we must do is return to the constant teaching of the Church as it’s expressed in the Second Vatican Council, but in all of the ecumenical councils and in all of the authentic teachings of the Church down the centuries.
So there you have it; according to Cardinal Burke, the Second Vatican Council isn’t part of the problem, it’s part of the solution, because, after all, it offers the constant teaching of the Church!
Has it never occurred to His Eminence that the documents of the Council – by turning on its head the constant teaching of the Church on such matters as religious liberty, ecumenism, the Church’s relationship with the Jews, etc. – actually set the stage for Amoris Laetitia to do the same with regard to adultery, marriage and family, Holy Communion, and even the very concept of mortal sin itself?
Does he not realize that the “confusion” that he lays at the feet of Amoris Laetitia pales in comparison to the utter devastation that has been wrought on the entire Church over the last 50-plus years thanks to the Council?
In any case, Burke’s characterization of the Council – one that contradicts everything that the “traditionalist” (aka Catholic) so-called “movement” stands for – went unchallenged and the interview effectively came to a close.
Like I said, the entire thing is a mixed bag that includes some excellent questions, telling answers, and missed opportunities.
Taken as a whole, it would seem to suggest – to the extent that Burke is representative of the cream of the cardinalatial crop (such as it is) – that it is very unlikely that any concrete steps will be taken toward ridding the Church of the scourge known as Francis.
I will conclude with one final quote from Cardinal Burke:
I can’t be distracted … worrying about whether I’m going to be in some way persecuted for defending the truth. As I said, one person said to me: “Aren’t you afraid to insist on these matters?” And I said that what I’m afraid of is to have to appear before Our Lord at the Last Judgment and having to say to Him: “No, I didn’t defend You when You were being attacked, the truth that You taught was being betrayed.”
Burke’s shortcomings aside, this is an attitude worthy of emulation.