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Cardinal Raymond Burke, through a Facebook post on Thursday, expressed support for the pope in the wake of another interview in which he seemed to undermine Catholic Church practice.

Burke, who previously had criticized the pope strongly, recently condemned gay couples and remarried Catholics, comparing them to murderers who are kind to other people.

The Facebook post is a link to an Italian interview in which he is quoted as saying, “I never spoke against the pope. I always conceived my activities as a support to the Petrine ministry. I would only serve the truth.”

The former bishop of the La Crosse Diocese, who caused a stir in January when he blamed radical feminism for many problems in the church — including clergy sexual abuse of boys — had earlier underscored his conservative views during an interview with LifeSiteNews in Rome.

Responding to questions from an interviewer who used the term “disorder of divorce,” Burke said it isn’t enough for gay couples and divorced and remarried Catholics to live “kind,” “generous” and “dedicated” lives.

“Of course it’s not. It’s like the person who murders someone and yet is kind to other people,” he told the U.S.-based website that advances conservative views.

“If you are living publicly in a state of mortal sin, there isn’t any good act that you can perform that justifies that situation: The person remains in grave sin,” Burke said in the interview, published March 24.

Burke, a native of Richland Center, Wis., is a noted church lawyer who was bishop of the La Crosse Diocese from 1994 until 2003 and archbishop of St. Louis from 2004 to 2008 before being appointed head of the Vatican’s highest court that year.

Pope Francis demoted him from that position last fall after, among other criticisms, Burke compared the church under Francis’ leadership to a “ship without a rudder.”

Under church law, divorced Catholics who remain single are in good standing and eligible for sacraments. Those who remarry may do so if they obtain a church annulment of the previous marriage.

In the LifeSiteNews interview, the 66-year-old Burke seems to challenge the annulment process, contending that modifications in the 1970s and ’80s eroded its credibility.

“It had disastrous effects and people began to talk about ‘Catholic divorce’ — and not without reason,” he said. “This is a scandal to those who are workers of justice or ministers of justice in the secular order, because when they see that the church doesn’t practice justice — doesn’t care any more about the truth — then what can law and justice possibly mean?”

Although La Crosse diocesan officials weren’t available for comment on Burke’s remarks, the diocese ministers to divorced and remarried Catholics and has policies acknowledging annulments and governing the reception of Communion.

Those policies stipulate that:

  • “A Catholic who is divorced cannot validly marry anyone, anywhere, except if they have petitioned for and been granted an annulment of the previous marriage. ... If a divorced Catholic remarries, either civilly or in the church of another faith, and his or her previous spouse is still living, he or she cannot worthily receive Communion, and any attempt to do so would be considered a sacrilege.”
  • “Divorce does not mean one can no longer receive Holy Communion. A Catholic is barred from receiving Communion only if he or she goes on to remarry after a divorce, while their previous spouse is still living, and no annulment has been granted in regards to a prior marriage.”
  • The topics of church tenets on marriage and gays propelled contentious debate during a global bishops’ meeting on family issues at the Vatican last fall, arguments that are expected to be raised in a follow-up meeting in October.

Assessments from other church officials include the following:

Pope Francis: The pontiff has suggested that the church investigate the possibility of a “somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage,” including the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

The issue is typical of a general need for forgiveness in the church, he said, adding, “The church is a mother, and she must travel this path of mercy and find a form of mercy for all.”

In a December interview, the pope acknowledged that divorced Catholics who remarry without an annulment cannot participate in activities such as presenting readings at Mass or becoming godparents.

The pontiff nonetheless wondered aloud whether the church shouldn’t “open the doors a little bit more. … Why can’t they be godparents?”

Pope Benedict XVI: Benedict, the conservative who elevated Burke to the rank of cardinal in 2010, said in 2005 that Jesus Christ still loves divorced Catholics who remarry outside of the church.

They still may participate during Mass, without receiving Communion, Benedict said.

Archbishop Gerhard Muller: The prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog re-emphasized church regulations barring divorced and remarried Catholics from the sacraments without an annulment in October 2013.

If an annulment has not been obtained, civilly remarried Catholics may receive communion if they promise to abstain from sexual relations, living together “as friends, as brother and sister,” Muller wrote in the Vatican newspaper.

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

(38) comments


Seems moronic that they have rules that have nothing to do with the Bible in the Catholic faith. I guess that's why I'm just a Christian. I'll be sure and say hi to Raymond when we both get to heaven even though he'll be surprised to see me.

AirForce Retired

you expect burke to be there? Moronic?


He is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church. If he was aware, in his leadership role, of the criminal actions of the sexual predators hidden within the church, and didn't bring it to the attention of local law enforcement,it makes him an accessory to their crimes. Unfortunately, the church has a proven history of being a caldron of perversion. What dark secrets do you and your minions harbor Burke? Are you still keeping your eyes opened and your mouth shut?


Wow! Machiavelli and Cardinal Burke have SO MUCH in common! Both say the same things over and over and can't seem to stop!


Dear Mr. Burke,

Yes, you did speak against the Pope. Be a man and admit it.


Burke should be in jail for his ongoing support and coverup of child rape rather than being given space in the newspaper. His own words speak volumes about his disrespect of the Pope.


Below is a link to a 150 page document describing how local bishops and a local priest handled a serial pedophile. On page 32 the La Crosse diocese graciously accepts a known pedophile to work with young people.

This article describes how Burke handles sex abuse cases.

Peely Wally

Anyone find it odd that the Fibune nukes comments about Gloria Doyle's drinking and arrests/citations? It's public record. They even cut off comments altogether on the last article about the judge race. Yet they allow furious lies about Cardinal Burke?


"Furious lies?"
They are printing the words that he spoke!

AirForce Retired

Quotes are not lies.


So you think a mean spirited comment like this is just peachy though, right?


Why is this even news? From time to time it seems the Trib is more like "Catholic News Monthly". Seriously, in the entire scope of the world Kanye West has more influence than this guy.
Don't believe me? If you're Catholic ask your kids who Burke is and then ask who Kanye is.

Deadwood subscriber

And ask an 80-year-old the same question; you'll git a different response.

It's news because Burke is a local guy.


Why does the Tribune give Burke any press? It's disturbing, the quotes that come from his mouth. Sadly, some brainwashed people drool at every word he speaks. Self-righteous,mind controlling guilt and obstructive judgement to control the masses is what Catholicism under Burke's rule is. Pope Francis is trying to unravel centuries of the evil within &I wish him well- Godspeed!

Deadwood subscriber

Well, it is local news. That's why they are covering it. And, for better or worse, it is clickbait, so that.

AirForce Retired

VATICAN CITY (RNS) American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the feisty former archbishop of St. Louis who has emerged as the face of the opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda, likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a fresh attack on the pope’s leadership.

Ya, burke supports the Pope.


His Eminence is no longer a "big fish in a big pond." He is only a big fish in an increasingly small pond and much of the mainstream media no longer find his comments newsworthy. Eventually, what he thinks about things will have little more impact than what anyone writes here.

Peely Wally

This comment is made out of ignorance. The Catholic Church is growing as a percentage of population in the U.S. and worldwide. Cardinal Burke is still among the most influential and powerful men in the world.


Sure he is...

Deadwood subscriber

@peelywally: you are factually incorrect:

Catholicism is declining as a percentage in the US and worldwide.

Peely Wally

Cardinal Burke is a good and faithful servant of the church. Have a blessed Good Friday devil-worshippers!




To all the haters and detractors of the Catholic Church and Cardinal Raymond Burke: None of you know the Catholic Church, none of you know Raymond Burke, yet you have no problem spewing your hatred and bigotry for all to see.
Years ago, while a business owner in La Crosse, I met Fr. Raymond Burke. He was then and remains today a very decent and holy man. What you all seem to hate is truth and Burke has never once spoken a lie, either about the Church or his views.
The Catholic Church currently educates over 2.6 million ElHi students saving taxpayers over $18 billion annually; is responsible for over 630 hospitals treating one in five people every day; runs over 230 colleges and universities educating over 700,000 students; in Chicago alone provides over 2.2 million meals to poor and homeless.
Further, only 1.7% of our priests are guilty of sexual misconduct, meaning over 98% do their jobs with dignity and grace.
We have our faults, but we have our graces which outweigh those faults.

Deadwood subscriber

@MarineJim, I am an ex-Catholic. I am what you would consider a "hater and detractor" precisely because I know the church.

Be careful citing stats as there are plenty that cut against Catholicism. How many billions does the church save in not paying property taxes--a government subsidy therein? How many tens of thousands of patients and students do Catholic hospitals and schools reject because they are gay or not Catholic or unwed parents? And those 7000 or so molesting priests? Protected by a systematic cover-up by elite clergy.

Plenty of good Catholics out there. And plenty of graft, corruption, and immorality at all levels of the church.

In your heart, you know it's true.

Peely Wally

You sir are a moron. Aquinas is loaded with gay and non-Catholic students and teachers.

Mr Bluejeans

@Jim - "ONLY" 1.7% of priests are criminal pedophiles protected by the church from legal justice? Where do you get your numbers - could be significantly higher since I doubt no one is going to volunteer "hey I abused little boys while administering the holy sacrament. Lock me up". Grace? Keep working on it.


@Marine Jim- I am a Catholic and I know the Catholic church quite well. I also know Raymond Burke from when he was a monsignor. He is not the same man. That is why the pope has clipped his wings. I suspect he suffers from early onset Alzheimer's.


@marinejim, you know the Catholic church, what is your opinion of Pope Francis, a seemingly humble man who foreswore his palace for a spartan apartment, expensive clothing for the cheap and durable stuff, a limousine for a small sedan? Cardinal Burke may have been a decent and holy man when you knew him, but now he lives a life of opulence, the opposite of the Pope, and he seems to speak from hatred more than from love. If that is the truth that counts for you, so be it. The Pope seems to be intent on building a worldwide community of believers. The only thing we know about Cardinal Burke building in regards to his faith is a very fancy, beautiful shrine outside La Crosse which, magnificent as it may be, seems more intended as a monument to the Cardinal than a tool in the service of the people.


Ask victims of sexual misconduct by priests if it matters what percent are doing their jobs with dignity and grace.

AirForce Retired

Burke is a prime example of why organized religion, of any kind is worthless at best, dishonest and immoral at worst. If there is a god, he would have total contempt for ALL organized religions.


No, God has no contempt for those who bring His name to others.


Humans are such imperfect vessels to carry the word of the Lord aren't they?


Re: "Pope Francis demoted him from that position last fall after, among other criticisms, Burke compared the church under Francis’ leadership to a “ship without a rudder.”"

Gee, is that like a Catholic church without a pedophile priest?

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." - Steven Weinberg


Hatred, bigotry, lies and internet terrorism are you fortes, right?


You know, Mach, I'm not a religious person, but I am certainly tolerant of those that are as long as they don't infringe on my rights. I would also never say the disgusting things about a person's faith that you have the knee jerk reaction to continuously do here, which says a lot about you . You are a very small "liberal" person.

Mr Bluejeans

Perhaps his holiness should follow the lead of the local email-offensive pastor and resign ASAP. As for Burke being "the leading Republican candidate" if he ran for president, we have enough religion in the mix as it is. Dont need anymore thank you. @aceman, I hope your post was an attempt at sarcasm.


Burke for president! Pretty sure he would be the leading Republican canidate!


Good one. ;)

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