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Cardinal Burke’s Keynote Talk… Faithful Catholic Health Workers Should Never Doubt Their Influence

October 27, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — Faithful Catholics can provide direction and hope to their “brothers and sisters” in society lost in an “unreal world of moral relativism,” Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke said in his keynote address following the annual White Mass for the Catholic Medical Association’s guild in Phoenix.
Burke preached the homily at the evening Mass, which he concelebrated in the Virginia Piper Chapel at Phoenix diocesan headquarters, then he expanded on his theme during a 48-minute address after the annual dinner of the medical association’s local guild on October 19.
“In a culture which attempts to alienate health care from its foundation in the mystery of Divine Love and Mercy,” Burke said in his homily, the mission of the Catholic Medical Association “is needed today more than it ever has been needed. . . .
“Satan’s principal temptation is discouragement and self-pity,” Burke told the packed chapel where the Mass was accompanied by a choir. “When we see, with honesty, the ferocity with which the secularized culture advances its agenda against human life and its cradle in marriage and the family,” the temptation is to feel overwhelmed.
The two antidotes to this, Burke added, are “to know Christ ever more intimately through His Word” transmitted through the Church, and to engage in prayer, recalling Christ’s parable of the unjust judge who finally relented.
People should “ask ourselves how is it possible to think that God who is all-merciful will not hear our insistent prayers for His help and His mercy,” and to avoid thinking that everything depends on what they themselves can do, Burke said.
Burke became perhaps one of the best-known cardinals in the world for joining three other princes of the Church in 2016 to ask Pope Francis to clarify some key questions arising from the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The Pope never responded.
Following the White Mass, before the dinner and keynote began, The Wanderer asked Burke about concerns being expressed that the Amazon Synod in Rome could harm the Church. He replied that the synod “has as its purpose how better to teach the faith in the Amazon. The Church doesn’t go to the Amazon to learn the faith, but to bring the Church and Christ to the Amazon.”
At this point a woman next to us in the diocesan center’s hallway asked Burke what people can do if pagan elements enter the Mass through the synod.
The cardinal replied in part that people who would change the Mass this way would be “apostates,” and the College of Cardinals could take responsibility to correct it. He added that the college hasn’t been convoked in five years, so it’s hard to know what other cardinals are thinking.
In the text of his keynote evening address, “Call to Holiness and Mission in Christ of Health-Care Professionals,” Burke cited Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II addressing “the grave moral evils of our time.”
The cardinal recalled that Benedict said, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”
Burke added later, “Pope Benedict XVI described a moral relativism, called proportionalism or consequentialism in contemporary moral theology, which has generated profound confusion and outright error regarding the most fundamental truths of the moral law.”
If the moral order is to be restored, “we must address with clarity and steadfastness the error of moral relativism, proportionalism, and consequentialism, which permeates our culture and has also entered, as the Holy Father reminds us, into the Church,” Burke said.
Recalling John Paul’s warning in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae against health-care workers being tempted to become “manipulators of life, of even agents of death,” Burke said, “A new evangelization, at its foundation, demands a new adherence to and respect for the Gospel of Life. Physicians and health-care workers are called to carry out such a new evangelization to an eminent degree. . . .
“If we live in Christ, in the union of our hearts with His Most Sacred Heart, when our brothers and sisters, lost in the unreal world of moral relativism and, therefore, tempted to despair, encounter us, they find direction for their lives and the hope for which they are looking and longing,” Burke said.
“Catholic health-care workers should never doubt the influence which their witness has upon the entire medical field,” he continued. “Too often, I fear, as Catholics we are timid about the great gift which we have to offer and instead follow secular trends which obscure and even rob us of that gift.
“Living in Jesus Christ, living according to the truth which He alone teaches us in His Church, we become light to dispel the confusion and error which lead to the many and so grave moral evils of our time, and to inspire a life lived in accord with the truth and, therefore, marked by freedom and happiness,” Burke said.
Turning his attention to Benedict’s Predecessor, Burke said, “Before the grave situation of the world today, we are, Pope John Paul II reminds us, like the first disciples who, after hearing St. Peter’s Pentecost discourse, asked him: ‘What must we do?’
“Even as the first disciples faced a pagan world which had not even heard of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Burke said, “so, we, too, face a culture which is forgetful of God and hostile to His Law written upon every human heart.
“Before the great challenge of our time, Pope John Paul II cautioned us that we will not save ourselves and our world by discovering ‘some magic formula’ or by ‘inventing a new program’,” the cardinal said, but instead by turning to “a Person, and the assurance which He gives us: ‘I am with you’.”
Burke quoted St. Pope John Paul saying, “This is a program which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication.”
The Lord’s counsel to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” didn’t mean some virtually unattainable standard reserved for a few, John Paul said, according to Burke. Instead, the Pope said he had beatified and canonized many lay Christians “who attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life.”
In seeking holiness, Burke said, people mustn’t believe they are free to set up their own standards of right and wrong as a responsible exercise of conscience, but must turn to “Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is the only arbiter of the right and good, so that our thoughts, words, and actions put that truth into practice.”
The role of conscience in responding to human suffering has particular importance to health-care professionals, Burke said. “Our culture’s view of human suffering makes it especially difficult to appreciate the good of a life which is heavily burdened. Our culture tells us that our life should be comfortable and convenient, and it devotes itself to forming us in the avoidance of all stress, pain and suffering.
“Sometimes, the cultural view takes on a spiritual appearance by claiming that our life in the body or physical life has no ultimate meaning, that our ultimate happiness lies in being freed of the body,” he said, but even as Christ rose from the dead in body and soul, “so, when our soul has left the body at death, we will await the resurrection of the body on the Last Day….
“Human suffering has always a physical and spiritual dimension, even as the suffering of Christ did,” Burke said.
The cardinal added later: “While society may consider human suffering to be useless and a diminishment of our human dignity, we know that just the opposite is true. Human suffering, embraced with the love of Christ, brings immense blessings to the Church and the world, and sheds an ever greater light upon the dignity of every human life. . . .
“In the suffering of our brothers and sisters, we see the Face of Christ and are invited to assist them in offering up their sufferings, with Christ, for the needs of the Church and of the world,” he said.

Turn To Mary

Burke concluded by citing St. Pope John Paul’s reflection on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s presence and her intercession in human suffering.
“And may we turn to her always,” the cardinal said, “so that she may bring us to her Son with her maternal counsel, given to the wine stewards at the wedding feast of Cana: ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ So may He transform our lives and our world.”
The cardinal received rousing applause.
As the evening with Burke concluded, Thomas Olmsted, the bishop of Phoenix, told The Wanderer, “We’re honored to have him here, we’re inspired both by his holy life and by his work, and especially he helped our medical professionals” to see the importance of their work and witness.
Olmsted said that decades ago, he and Burke had studied together as seminarians at the North American College in Rome.
The local medical association’s vice president, James Asher, DO, received its annual St. Luke’s Award “for upholding the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.”

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