Catholic Twitter has piled on traditionalist Cardinal Raymond Burke for protesting that he’s not an “enemy” of Pope Francis.
Driving the news
The Dubia-emitting, Amazon Synod-criticising cardinal protested to conservative journalist Ross Douthat in the New York Times that “now I find myself in a situation where I’m called the enemy of the pope, which I am not”.
“I haven’t changed. I’m still teaching the same things I always taught and they’re not my ideas”, Burke complained.
“But now suddenly this is perceived as being contrary to the Roman pontiff. And I think here what’s entered in is a very political view of the papacy, where the pope is some kind of absolute monarch who can do whatever he wants.
“That has never been the case in the church. The pope is not a revolutionary, elected to change the church’s teaching. And a lot of the secular view is people looking at the church, but not understanding her profound reality”, Burke said.
Burke affirmed that while the Amazon Synod final document “is less explicit in the embrace of pantheism, it does not repudiate the statements in the working document which constitute an apostasy from the Catholic faith”.
“The working document doesn’t have doctrinal value. But what if the pope were to put his stamp on that document?”, the cardinal asked.
“People say if you don’t accept that, you’ll be in schism – and I maintain that I would not be in schism because the document contains elements that defect from the apostolic tradition.
“So my point would be the document is schismatic. I’m not”.
Asked whether he was, with these sentiments, “effectively implying that the pope would be leading a schism” if he accepted the Amazon Synod final document, Burke replied simply: “Yes”.
But while he laid that responsibility for potential division in the Church squarely at the feet of Pope Francis, Burke said he personally would never take part in that kind of rupture.
“Schism, that can never be the will of Christ. Christ can never will a division in his body”, Burke explained.
“People come to me and say, look, cardinal, it’s time, we have to go into schism. And I say no, it’s not possible. Our Lord can’t want that, and I’m not going to be part of any schism”.
On the Amazon Synod, too, Burke was asked for his opinion of the indigenous fertility Mother Earth statuettes that graced some of the Amazon Synod proceedings.
Those statuettes were displayed in a Roman church during the Synod until a young Austrian, Alexander Tschugguel, stole them and dumped them in the Tiber river.
“The statue in question is an idol”, Burke affirmed, despite Vatican claims that it was a native depiction of Our Lady of the Amazon.
But the cardinal affirmed he had no prior knowledge that Tschugguel was going to steal and profane the statuettes.
“While I know quite well and regard highly Alexander Tschugguel, especially for his courageous and tireless work in defending the inviolability of innocent human life and the integrity of the family, I had nothing to do with his removal of the pagan idols from the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina and his throwing them into the Tiber”, Burke protested.
“At the same time, knowing his deep Catholic faith, I can understand why he found it intolerable that pagan idols be displayed in a Catholic church.
“It reminds me of similar situations in Old Testament times, for example, the case of the Maccabee brothers, and the case of so many confessors and martyrs, who would not tolerate that the Catholic faith be denied through the worship of pagan idols.
“Having listened to Alexander’s statement regarding his actions, I can only express my respect for him and my gratitude for his courageous witness to the faith”, Burke said.
Why it matters
For his doublespeak on his opposition to the Pope, his hypocrisy on schism and his duplicity over the theft of the ‘Pachamama’ statues, Burke quickly became the object of the criticism of Catholic commentators on Twitter.
Joseph the Benedictine summed up Burke’s interview thus:
“To put it simply: I’m not [the Pope’s] enemy, I just like to publicly shame him by declaring him wrong and by turning people against him. You know how the saying goes: ‘With friends like this….?'”
“Burke is one sly prelate. On the surface he says his is not the Pope’s enemy, that he is not in favor of schism, but goes on to allege that the Pope is in error”, Joseph the Benedictine observed.
“He chooses his words carefully: he says he was unaware of the theft and drowning of the ‘idols’ (not ‘statues’) but ‘I know quite well and regard highly Alexander Tschugguel’, so what he did was okay? Burke’s opposition to the Pope is obvious”.
Calling Burke’s overall position “incoherent nonsense” and criticising his “cognitive dissonance” in recoginising but not respecting Pope Francis, Twitter user Mike Lewis called the cardinal’s interview a “long-winded exercise in excuse-making”.
“But, I will grant him this”, Lewis added ironically.
“[Burke] does publicly affirm that he believes Francis is pope. He also states that he will continue to defy him”.
Twitter user Brian Killian said that Burke and his traditionalist co-conspirators – by affirming Francis is pope but then doing their best to undermine his papacy – “would rather affirm the ecclesiastical version of a ‘square circle’ than believe that they could ever be the ones inciting schism or causing confusion”.
Twitter user Tony Annett accepted Burke’s protests that he is not the enemy of the Pope, but then criticised the cardinal for continuing to “associate” with people who do have it in for Francis, such as “extremists” like Taylor Marshall, Michael Voris of the website Church Militant and John-Henry Westen of LifeSite News.
Other Twitter users like Andrea Manea blasted the New York Times for printing “such a dishonest piece against the Holy Father”.
“No morals, no respect for truth, but actively helping the most evil and corrupt players”, Manea denounced.
“Oh. Ross Douthat”, Twitter user William D. Lindsey continued in the anti-New York Times line.
“Well, then — if Cardinal Burke says he’s a Francis fanboy and Douthat reports that to us, this must all be true. About like Stephen Miller or Donald Trump saying he’s not a white supremacist”.
Twitter user Rachel Dobbs, for her part, criticised Burke for causing “more division and dissension within the church” with his interview.
“[Burke] should just get out if he won’t be obedient. He’s a cardinal, he’s supposed to be obedient to the Pope”, Dobbs said.
“For someone who prides himself on tradition and respect, he has a glaring absence of both to the present pope and his policies”, Twitter user Leo Armbrust wryly observed, for his part, of Burke’s interview.
Twitter user Mike recalled that Burke’s 2016 dubia to the Pope “was an effort to embarrass Francis, to showboat”.
“It was done in bad faith, which is why Francis never answered it and shouldn’t answer it. Burke speaks out of both sides of his mouth”, Mike denounced.
Burke is just “like the mullahs”, decried for her part Twitter user Random Woman.
“It’s my way or the highway. Not the message modern Catholicism needs to project. I lived in St Louis when [Burke] was there. He was very unpopular”, Random Woman said.
“So disappointing”, Twitter user Michael Bowen simply said, criticising Burke’s admission that he is still teaching “the same things I always taught”.
“Ideas, concepts, new ways, alternatives all together give renewal – this Pope is a revolutionary who understands a new reality is needed to get the church out of the quicksand of irrelevance. Let’s move on!”, Bowen tweeted.