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Interview With Cardinal Burke… Be Transformed And Put On The Mind Of Christ

January 17, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By DON FIER

Part 2

(Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently paid a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. His Eminence graciously allotted time in his demanding schedule to grant The Wanderer an extensive interview and provided many illuminating insights. Among the topics he addressed is the troubling situation in which the Church finds herself and how the faithful can best respond. Part one of this important interview appeared in last week’s Wanderer.)

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Q. High-placed members of the hierarchy, including Pope Francis, seem to attribute the underlying cause of the clerical sexual abuse crisis to “clericalism.” It seems as if the findings of the 2002 John Jay Study commissioned by the Dallas Charter — which found that over 80 percent of clerical abuse cases were related to homosexuality — clearly indicates otherwise. [Note: Even Gerhard Cardinal Mueller was recently quoted to reaffirm his position that “homosexuality and clerical abuse are clearly linked.”]
Can you explain exactly what the term “clericalism” means? Do you think it can accurately be portrayed as the underlying root cause of the clerical sexual abuse and cover-up problem that plagues the Church?

A. Clericalism is the using of the clerical state for other than its true purpose, namely, to teach correct doctrine and to lead the Church in her correct discipline. Clericalism is typically present when a person uses his authority for his own personal gains or to exercise undue power over people.
I do not think it is accurate to say that the sexual abuse of minors is owed to clericalism. That would be to give the impression that there is something about the clerical state that involves the sexual abuse of minors. The problem lies in the fact that over 80 percent of these acts are committed with male adolescents or young male adults, a fact that is very clear from the John Jay Study.
The root cause is sin, lust, disordered sexual desire in which one indulges to the great harm of the one who suffers this abuse.
I just do not see where it has anything to do, in particular, with clericalism. You could say that it is related to an abuse of authority because a young person would be more susceptible to think that a priest is doing something which can be justified that clearly cannot be.
But I do not think it has anything to do with clericalism at all. In fact, the more firmly and solidly a priest is identified with being a cleric, the more sense he has that he belongs to Christ. In former times it was signified by the tonsure, the cutting of the hair of a young man prior to receiving the Sacrament of Orders, to show that he belongs totally to Christ.
This is diametrically opposed to any kind of abuse of others.

Q. I know it is your firm conviction that the witness of priestly celibacy is of incalculable importance to the lay faithful. Please elaborate on why this is true from both theological and practical perspectives.

A. We are all called to lead a chaste life. We also are all victims of the effects of original sin. Thus, people can be tempted to sin against their own bodies, to commit sins against the truth of their human sexuality. The gift of priestly celibacy, of a man who truly lives a life of perfect continence, is a great source of strength to young men and women in their struggle to grow in purity and chastity.
Priestly celibacy also provides a great witness to those called to the married life — it is an example that helps them always remain faithful to their marriage vows. That is why it has always been typical in the Church for faithful Catholic couples to have good friends who are priests. The priest is a sign to them of the purity of their relationship as husband and wife and of its ultimate good in eternal life.
In the same way, the priest is reinforced in his commitment to clerical celibacy by seeing that married couples live chaste lives. In other words, he is strengthened by the witness of their faithful and lifelong love for each other and how they express that love in a correct way, in a moral way in accordance with the natural law.

Q. As a follow-up, there seems to be an upsurge in the number of young women who are accepting the call to consecrated virginity. For example, in 2018 three young ladies in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis joyfully accepted this call. Please comment on the value of the witness of these generous souls to the life of the Church.

A. When people know a consecrated virgin, that is another sign to them of our final destiny, which is eternal life. It is a witness to how we should live each day in preparing to meet the Lord, which means living a chaste life according to the vocation to which we are called, whether married, single, consecrated religious, or priest.
Yes, there is a growing number of those who are asking to receive the Church’s consecration as virgins living in the world. But there are also more and more young women who want to enter religious communities, especially contemplative communities.
Just in November, I celebrated a Mass for a new Carmel in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, which I believe is the fifth or sixth foundation from the Carmel in Valparaiso, Nebraska. They have a great number of young women who are joining. It is a very difficult life and they live in somewhat harsh conditions, yet I have never before seen such a happy group of women.
People think of cloistered sisters as being isolated from the world, but in fact Mother Mary Francis, the Poor Clare author, says: “The walls of the enclosure surround the whole world.” In other words, they are praying and making sacrifices for everyone.

Bishop Morlino And The Liturgy

Q. The Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, recently lost a faithful and courageous prelate in Bishop Robert Morlino, well-known for his heroic opposition of abortion and same-sex unions as well as his conviction that the homosexual subculture that exists within the Church must be addressed. How well did you know Bishop Morlino? Can you offer some words on the legacy he left behind?

A. Yes, I knew Bishop Morlino somewhat well. He leaves a very powerful legacy, most of all as a teacher of the Faith. He was tireless in teaching the natural moral law, which is the foundation of right reason. In our heart, there is an order which corresponds to the order which God has placed in the whole of creation.
Bishop Morlino taught faithfully in so many areas, as the shepherd of a diocese which has its seat in a very secular city, that of Madison, Wisconsin. He was not afraid to stand up for what the Church teaches, even though he took a lot of grief for it — in the media and from other-minded people in the diocese. He was never affected by it. I am sorry that he died at such young age — he was doing such great work.
The other thing connected with his solid teaching was his great appreciation for the beauty of the sacred liturgy. He fostered proper placement of the holy tabernacle in strict relationship with the altar of sacrifice in the sanctuary of the Church. And he strived to eliminate liturgical abuses and also promoted in a very appropriate way the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Q. It seems that Archbishop Viganò’s third letter is being met with further attempts to discredit him personally rather than addressing his apparently credible allegations. Do you have any insights as to how this matter will eventually play out? Please elaborate.

A. This is the great dishonesty. Whatever you think of the opportuneness or prudence of making these declarations, it is clear that he made them as an act of conscience. They include allegations to which the Church has to respond. If the allegations are not responded to, then there must be something deeply wrong in the Church.
As far as I am concerned, the character assassinations of Archbishop Viganò are profoundly wrong — character assassination always is wrong. Moreover, I see them also as an attempt to draw attention away from the gravity of the matters which he addresses.

Q. Your Eminence, it has been your unwavering position that formal schism must be avoided at all costs. In fact, you have often been quoted to say that “schism can never be right.” Some suggest, however, that an informal de facto schism exists at the present moment. This is in light of concerns such as the unanswered dubia questions, Holy Communion for Protestants, divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion, etc.
Prelates and priests have taken opposing sides on issues that can have only one true answer that conforms to the authentic Deposit of Faith — the result is a confused laity. In your estimation, does a de facto schism currently exist? How long can the current situation continue before a formal schism occurs? Are bishops and cardinals who remain silent complicit by allowing the controversy to continue?

A. I will simply renew my statement of what the Church has always understood about herself, that no situation justifies introducing a division in the Body of Christ. The situation that exists is not what I would call schism, but of apostasy, a situation where prelates, priests, and laypeople have effectively abandoned the Catholic Faith by espousing teachings and practices that are contrary to the Deposit of Faith. Abandonment of the truth causes apostasy as well as tremendous suffering in the Church.
But it is our response to that situation, especially if we see it among prelates or bishops, that is important. We may be tempted to walk away from the Faith because of this person and say, “I can’t be a Catholic anymore because of what this or that bishop has done.”
However, that man, whoever he is, is not the Church. The Church is Jesus Christ — and we cannot walk away from Him, even if we are the ones who are made to suffer from within the Church, even if we are made to think that we are the ones who are causing division and conflict.
We must remain faithful to Christ and teach what He has always taught.
So, I believe what people are describing with the term de facto schism is, in fact, a practical apostasy from the Faith. Therefore, it is more critical than ever that those who are faithful and who are striving to follow the teaching of the Church in its integrity remain solidly within the Body of Christ.
Recall St. Athanasius who was sent into exile, persecuted, and oftentimes treated with indifference. Like him, we need to persevere in giving our witness.
With regard to the silence of so many cardinals and bishops, this is a very serious question. A bishop is ordained to the fullness of the priestly office, and a cardinal is inscribed in the College of Cardinals to defend the Faith. And this must be done vocally. To remain silent in the midst of this tremendous confusion cannot be right — it can never be right.
I even heard recently that some spiritual director told a bishop: “This is the time to remain silent.” How can this be correct for a bishop, if there is growing confusion and division in the Church? A bishop needs to tell his people that which will bring unity, namely, fidelity to Christ and to His teaching and to His discipline.

What Is The Reform?

Q. Several years ago, I remember running across a statistic indicating that if such a category existed, the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States would consist of fallen-away Catholics. More recently, I ran across an article stating that fallen-away Catholics is now the largest category. What needs to happen for this trend to be reversed, for the Church to experience a renewal?

A. Yes, a reform has to take place. What is the reform? It is that we have to once again teach the Faith in its integrity. The Creed has to be expounded in public and in Sunday sermons and in other forms of adult catechesis. It has to be taught to children and young people.
The present deplorable situation is the fruit of decades of poor catechesis. We have generations of Catholics who say openly that they do not know the Catholic Faith themselves, and therefore they are unable to defend the Faith to others. I think the fundamental solution is to return to a solid teaching of the Faith and to purify the Church of all these scandals that are tremendous tests of people’s faith.
Above all, the Catholic Church depends upon a worthy clergy. We need to have seminaries that prepare young men to be the best possible priests, and they, in turn, must lead personal lives that reflect the ontological change that occurs when they are ordained priests, when they are configured to the Person of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the flock at every time and in every place.

Q. Fr. Hardon, whose Cause for Beatification and Canonization you initiated in 2005 (and whose many apostolates you now guide and oversee), was a tireless catechist. He firmly believed that authentic catechesis of the unvarnished truth was necessary to stem the tide — and he labored valiantly toward that goal right up until his last breath. If he were still alive, would he be surprised at the current situation the Church faces? In your estimation, what would the Servant of God’s counsel be?

A. I do not think Fr. Hardon would be surprised. When you read his writings, it is evident that he understood profoundly the warning our Lady gave us in Fatima, Portugal — that there was great danger of apostasy in the Church and apostasy from the Faith. He saw it coming and would not be surprised about it. At the same time, he would also be profoundly saddened and disturbed to see the situation in which the Church finds herself.
His counsel would be the same counsel he was giving right up to the end of his life. I worked with him the last three years of his life and his constant call was for “catechesis, catechesis, catechesis” — that the truth of the Faith and the moral law must be tirelessly taught and lived.

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