A Conservative American Catholic Leader Is Punished by Pope Francis

December 2, 2023

Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the highest-ranking detractors of Pope Francis, is being punished by the pope, according to ABC News

In the second such radical action against a conservative American prelate this month, the pope revoked his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary, according to two individuals with knowledge of the matter for ABC News, effectively firing the official.

Francis stated last week at a meeting of the leaders of Vatican offices that he was opposing Burke because he was "disunity" within the church, according to one of the attendees at the November 20 gathering.

The participant consented to speak under the condition of anonymity due to his lack of authorization to disclose the details of the encounter.

Removal Details

Burke was using his subsidized Vatican residence and salary as a retired cardinal, according to Francis, to undermine the church, according to a second source who was subsequently briefed on the measures taken by the pope.

This individual also requested anonymity due to his lack of authorization to divulge the specific details.

His secretary informed The Associated Press via text message on Tuesday that Burke has not been notified of any actions being taken against him.

Burke, a canon lawyer of 75 years of age, was dismissed by Pope Francis in 2014 from his position as a high court justice at the Vatican.

Since then, he has emerged as a prominent detractor of the pope, expressing strong disapproval towards his efforts to reform the church and expand its accessibility to LGBTQ+ Catholics and ordinary devout.

Burke, along with two other conservative cardinals, has twice issued formal inquiries to the pontiff, referred to as "dubia," in which he requests clarification on matters of doctrine that have caused discontent among conservatives and traditionalists.

Francis never responded to their initial inquiry regarding the clarification of his outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

In the second question, participants inquired whether church privileges could be extended to same-sex couples. The response given was a conditional "maybe."

The Final Nail

Next month, just steps from St. Peter's Square, on the eve of Francis' major gathering of bishops known as a synod, Burke presided over a counter-synod of sorts.

Burke delivered a scathing rebuke at that location, criticizing both Francis' vision of "synodality" and his comprehensive reform initiative for the church.

“It’s unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit by some has the aim of bringing forward an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” Burke told the conference titled “The Synodal Babel.”

Burke has consistently defended his actions by claiming that they were in the best interests of the church and the pope, arguing that it was his duty as a bishop and cardinal to uphold church doctrine and correct errors.

“The sheep depend on the courage of pastors who must protect them from the poison of confusion, error and division,” he told the Oct. 3 conference, garnering applause from the crowd.

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