Nov 9, 2014

The Cardinal's Demotion

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It's official. Cardinal Burke is being demoted from a high court justice to a figurehead role. As discussed here, Burke himself had confirmed the rumored change. It is assumed that this is due to open criticism of the pope's more tolerant stance on social issues... and for being a firebrand.

Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”

But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

“The position of Patron of the the Order of Malta is usually given to a retired cardinal, or as a second task to an active cardinal,” Michael Sean Winters, a prominent Catholic journalist, wrote in the National Catholic Reporter. “It has almost no responsibilities. The demotion is unprecedented, and completely warranted: Cardinal Burke’s influence at the Vatican has been crushingly backward looking, and that influence has resulted in some unhappy appointments.”

I think there's a message and certain symbolism in this reassignment, not just to Burke but to other arch-conservatives in the Catholic Church. Cardinal Burke's new job, while bereft of any real power or responsibility, is to oversee charitable action.

Today the order has about 13,000 members; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and paramedics in more than 120 countries.[3] The goal is to assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in all parts of the world, without distinction of race or religion.[3] In several countries—including France, Germany and Ireland—the local associations of the Order are important providers of first aid training, first aid services and emergency medical services. Through its worldwide relief corps—Malteser International—the Order is also engaged to aid victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts.

The judgmental cardinal will no longer be a judge, a job in which he showed little mercy. He will now serve as a representative of compassion. One hopes that he will learn to show some.

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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