by Hilary White
In an interview with Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTE, one of the Catholic hierarchy’s most outspoken defenders of life and family and the Church’s sexual moral teachings again indicated Pope Francis needs to “clarify” that divorced and remarried Catholics, and active homosexuals, cannot be admitted to the sacraments.
As he did during the course of the contentious Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome last month, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke told RTE in a video interview, “I believe very strongly that – I’m not the pope, and I’m not in the business of telling him what to do – but in my judgment this needs to be clarified, and there’s only one person who can clarify it at this point.”
The possibility of the Church in any way accepting sexual immorality, whether in the form of divorce, “second marriages” or homosexual acts, he said, must be taken “off the table” for next year’s Synod in a definitive way that only the pope can accomplish.
The cardinal denied that this was an instance of “defying” the pope’s authority, saying that Pope Francis would agree that Church teaching is immutable. But he added that he cannot see how the Church’s teaching is being clarified by the Synod process of protracted discussion and debate. He said that he has heard from lay people that “there’s really just a growing confusion about what the Church really teaches, and we’re not coming to any clarity.
“And the impression now is given that this will now go out to the dioceses and they will express their opinions and the bishops will come and vote on this. But that isn’t the way Church doctrine is formulated. And that’s not the way Church discipline is formulated. The Church is not a democracy,” Burke said.
It is “not helpful that people have this idea now that we’re going to have this broad discussion” on these issues that will be brought to the next session of the Synod in 2015, and put them to a vote, “and somehow this will be the direction.”
“In the end, the Holy Father is the only one who can set the direction, and he will have to pronounce on the matter.”
Cardinal Burke was also careful to explain that the pope does not have the power to change Catholic teaching: “The pope is the first person called to obedience to the word of Christ. And in the case of marriage we have very clearly the word of Christ as it’s recorded in 19th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, and we’re all at the service of that, beginning with the Holy Father.”
He refused to comment on whether this pontificate is “in serious trouble” because of Pope Francis’ silence, but restated his previous assertion that “the matter has to be clarified, clearly and now.”
“The Holy Father has his own judgments in these matters. But I as a cardinal, one of his principal advisors, feel the need to urge that this matter be clarified; without entering into judgments about his pontificate. … But to say that this matter in particular, is so serious we need some strong direction.”