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Cardinal Burke: Cardinal Meisner Said We Must “Continue Fighting for the Church and Her Teaching”

As OnePeterFive reported shortly after the death of Cardinal Joachim Meisner – who was one of the four dubia cardinals – this German prelate had many widely recognized saintly characteristics. When I wrote that article at the time, I – and also my little family with whom I shared my findings – were deeply touched by the deep Faith, clear witness, charity, and the courageous positions Cardinal Meisner often took. He defended the Faith and its tenets with love, and he reached out even to his ideological opponents.

At the time, I also reached out to all three of the remaining dubia cardinals, asking them whether they would all like to write up a tribute to their fourth “comrade-in-arms.” Cardinal Burke’s secretary was so kind to give me a response, saying that the cardinal had already made a little tribute for the National Catholic Register. This is what Cardinal Burke then said:

In comments to the Register, Cardinal Burke said in tribute to the German cardinal that it had been “a great gift to me to know Cardinal Joachim Meisner over the past years.

“He has inspired me deeply by his profound love of Christ and of His Mystical Body, the Church,” Cardinal Burke said. “He spared no effort in showing that love clearly and courageously in practice. May he be granted the reward of the good and faithful servant. May he rest in peace.”

I was glad to see now that Cardinal Burke has had some more things to say in a new interview which he has granted to The Wanderer. Let me quote here in its entirety only the portion about Cardinal Meisner (I do not intend to discuss other portions of the interview which might well deserve a fuller response from us):

Q. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in a message read at the funeral Mass of Joachim Cardinal Meisner, expressed his admiration of the Cardinal’s ability “to let go and to live out a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.”

The former Vicar of Christ prefaced his remark by referring to Cardinal Meisner as “a passionate shepherd and pastor [who] found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination.”

Your Eminence, as a friend and close collaborator of Cardinal Meisner, how do you understand these touching words of tribute by Benedict? Can you offer any personal reflections on the life and legacy of this great Prince of the Church?

A. There is no question that Cardinal Meisner had a profound sense of the Catholic Faith in its entirety and a deep love for Our Lord and His Church. He was completely dedicated to being a good shepherd. I especially remember an encounter with him in February of 2014 at a consistory when Walter Cardinal Kasper gave his presentation suggesting there was a possibility of changing the Church’s discipline regarding those who live in irregular matrimonial unions receiving the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession.

Cardinal Meisner and I were walking out after one of the sessions and he said to me: “This is not possible. This will lead to schism.” And he was very passionate about it.

All along, Cardinal Meisner followed very carefully, and supported and encouraged those who were defending the Church’s constant teaching and practice. He was a wonderful pastor and was never one to say that those who supported the Church’s teaching were legalists and do not care about people, that they were throwing stones at them. He was a very loving pastor who understood that a good shepherd of the flock must teach the truth to the faithful in its entirety.

I saw him on March 4 of 2017 in Cologne when a former canon-law classmate celebrated his 65th birthday. A number of us wrote essays to honor him that were published in a book. I attended the presentation of the book, and Cardinal Meisner was there. It is absolutely true what Pope Benedict XVI wrote of him: He was serene, but also very ardent.

I vividly recall Cardinal Meisner saying to me that we need to continue fighting for the Church and her teaching. He possessed a wonderful combination of those two qualities, of serenity and ardor. I always had the impression that he was someone who was very close to Our Lord in prayer and that he spoke from a conviction that was not based in himself, but on an intimate knowledge of Our Lord. [my emphasis]

It is an encouragement to see how Cardinal Burke thus honors Cardinal Meisner for his strong stance and charity with regard to the current crisis in the Catholic Church.

Let us also remember here some additional high-ranking voices who made their own tributes to Cardinal Meisner, shortly after his burial in Cologne, on 15 July:

Cardinal [Gerhard] Müller then concluded this short 15 July interview in Cologne with some words about Cardinal Meisner himself – one of the four dubia cardinals: “He is for me a great witness of our Christian Faith in the midst of our world.”

These words echo the words of Archbishop Georg Gänswein who, on that same day, also gave some interviews and said the following words about Cardinal Meisner: “A giant has been given a farewell; or a spiritual giant had to go. I can only hope that he, now from up above, gigantically intercedes for us.”

Gänswein also explained that Cardinal Meisner “has lived out of the spiritual and for the spiritual,” and that he may “already now see some spiritual fruits.” Gänswein stressed that the now-famous message written by Pope emeritus Benedict – as recited by Gänswein publicly – was “a spiritual encouragement for all of those who listened to it; and spiritual encouragements for this our time are very good and very much needed.”

Not long before his death, Cardinal Meisner wrote the following words with regard to the Church’s current situation: “The shepherd is appointed by Christ in order to preserve the herd from error and from confusion.” May Cardinal Meisner’s legacy continue to bear good fruits – in his own spiritually impoverished homeland, as well as in the larger Church. And may he now be able to strengthen the remaining three dubia cardinals to proceed with a needed public fraternal correction of Pope Francis.

29 thoughts on “Cardinal Burke: Cardinal Meisner Said We Must “Continue Fighting for the Church and Her Teaching””

  1. Cardinal Burke on December 16th, 2016: “Now of course we are in the last days, days of strong grace, before the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, and then we have the Octave of the Solemnity and the celebrations at the beginning of the New Year – the whole mystery of Our Lord’s Birth and His Epiphany – so it would probably take place sometime after that.”

    Perhaps I was foolish to think that it would come after this year’s Epiphany. It’s been 332 days since Francis received Dubia. I won’t be shocked if cardinal Burke isn’t the one that makes it happen.

    After all, he recently said “Thus, it is ABSURD to think that Pope Francis can teach something which is not in accord with what his predecessors, for example Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Saint John Paul II, have solemnly taught.”

    Well my dear Cardinal if that’s the case, then yeah no correction is needed.

    Nothing absurd to see here folks, keep moving along..

    • That comment can be read several ways:
      -He doesn’t have the ability teach error.
      -He just cannot, even though he is, he cannot.
      -He is not permitted to do so and will need to correct himself or be corrected.
      I am going with the third option, especially in light of Cardinal Burke’s other comments today regarding apostate Cardinals and Bishops.

      • ‘especially in light of Cardinal Burke’s other comments today regarding apostate Cardinals and Bishops.’………..Yes indeed, Cardinal Burke did say that ‘schism’ was not the correct terminology and is never a correct approach. He said that actually it is ‘apostasy’ that’s the correct terminology indicated by Our Lady herself. ‘Apostasy’ = the complete abandonment of one’s faith.

        • “They have divorced themselves from the Church of Christ…….completely”

          Did Pope Francis as well? Because last time I checked he approved the AL guidelines for Argentinian Bishops to give Body of Christ to unrepented adulterers.

          So, is it cardinal’s duty to officially inform laity with ‘imperfect council’ that the Pope has lost the seat or maybe that he never had it. Does he have any intention of formally correcting the divorcees? Or are we simply to interpret that black is white, because of the three magic words: hermeneutic of continuity?

  2. Cardinal Meisner, pray for His Church that we remain close to Him and His Divine Will. Pray that the Church wakes up to what is going on????????

  3. As to Cardinal Meisner, I have read that as Archbishop of Cologne, he permitted one of the Archdiocesan hospitals to dispense the “morning after” pill and never after regretted doing so. I was also struck by my reading that not long before he died he expressed confidence that he was going to Heaven. Well, perhaps he received a Heavenly locution to that effect. Otherwise, it speaks an astonishing presumption. Even Padre Pio told a friend how much he feared going before Our Lord in judgement.

    • St. Theresa, the Little Flower, did not think that there was necessarily virtue in assuming we would go to Purgatory. She felt that that showed a lack of confidence in Jesus’ grace, in His ability to make us ready for heaven. Besides, if we go to Purgatory, then we will also go to heaven, so to expect heaven is not necessarily presumptuous. While there’s nothing wrong with a healthy fear of the Lord, I don’t think it’s a virtue to really think that, in spite of your love for Jesus, you will end up in hell, and I don’t think that was Padre Pio’s point. As Thomas More says in A Man for All Seasons, when asked why he was bold enough to think that he would be seeing Our Lord after his execution, “Our Lord would not refuse one so blithe to go to Him.” There are also pretty good arguments regarding the morning after pill, that its action is to prevent ovulation. That means it doesn’t cause abortion, because abortion can only occur if conception occurs. If you have information that shows it also prevents implantation, that would be different. But avoiding conception after rape is not itself a sin, so if preventing ovulation is its only effect, then the morning after pill wouldn’t be a problem.

      • As I recall the Cardinal withdrew his approval saying when he gave the okay he was not given complete accurate information. Indeed the morning after pill prevents implantation after new life is conceived, thus is abortifacient. Too many people want to believe the morning after pill is a panacea and no life is destroyed. This is false. The morning after pill is incideously evil.

        • While it’s true that a pregnancy test would come back negative that early another option is to do an ultrasound of the ovaries. If the woman has recently ovulated it will be aparent. If she has not yet ovulated she can safely receive the morning after pill to prevent ovulation but if she has already ovulated in that cycle then she cannot receive the morning after pill because it could have an abortifacient effect.

          • Thanks for that info. Do you think anyone bothers to do ultrasound under those circumstances? I’d guess maybe 3 times yearly worldwide.

    • I’ve never seen an in-depth report on what he actually allowed , under which circumstances, and when — or whether he ever changed his position.

      What I do know, because we reported on it a while back, is that many bioethicists and bishops were operating on the basis of incorrect data, believing that so-called “Plan B” contraception could prevent ovulation, and thus, could be a moral choice if administered after a rape.

      We interviewed the doctor who put that false belief to rest, but his research was pretty recent:

    • Very possibly the guy screwed up.

      He was, after all, human.

      He did not, tho, approve of adultery, misquote Jesus, belittle Mary, suggest God lies, encourage sodomy and compliment heretics.

  4. If it’s true that we are naturally drawn to people who look like us, it’s no wonder Cardinals Meismer and Burke were friends: you look at their faces without regard to hair and age and they share very similar features, especially in the nose/mouth/chin area….

  5. “The shepherd is appointed by Christ in order to preserve the herd from error and from confusion.”–Cardinal Meisner

    Given the time and context should we not consider this statement a veiled criticism of Pope Francis?

    • Enough.

      Unless there is something new to report on this matter, we may as well skip it altogether.
      There is not courage, there is no sacrifice in leadership.
      Talk, talk, and more talk…….
      The renegades in the Church have FREEDOM to do whatever the heck they want to do!
      Who is to stop them? no one

      Stories such as these only serve to cause me to despair, for they tease and hold a dribble of promise,
      when in actually, nothing changes.

      What good can I do, if my Church does not support the teachings of Christ?
      In my little neck of the woods, in my little apostolate, we are finding ourselves in a ” foxhole”, which I cannot elaborate on right now. But, if you take an educated guess… has to do with homosexuality and the acceptance. Laity are useless without a holy priest. And priests became useless without a holy bishop?
      And a holy bishop becomes useless without a holy Pope, of which we do not have.

      Oh, forgive me. Have i caused despair? Please, the Truth is starring many of us right between the eyes, and
      it is a grave, grave sin for cardinals to remain silent, and not point out the need for a formal correction.
      I will not continue to hit my head against a brick wall. I will not continue to hope and hope and hope, when I read articles such as these…….only to see nothing change. That, too… not good for the soul!

      Hunker down I shall. I am only following the lead of our prelates.

      I am sorry for the many who will not hear the Truth, I am sorry for the many who are confused and will be seduced by this apostasy that is in our Church, and make no mistake there is an apostasy and it starts from the top. I am sorry cardinals worry about so many things, and not the truth.

      Mostly, I am sorry for Christ and His Mother.
      And make no mistake, Yes, I am VERY angry……..but not in despair.

      • Bravo cs. You speak encouraging words because the truth is ultimately encouraging. If you have any advice for us please share it. There certainly id no reason for despair. Our time is a great opportunity to courageously practice our Catholic faith by speaking out, by praying, by encouraging each other, by just simply enduring. This is our Cross. Let us try to be joyful about it.

        • Your advise is very wise.
          I would add however, that is imperative to seek a holy and faithful priest and pray very hard for them. Their Cross is far greater than the laity! And not only should we seek a holy priest, but support them as best we can, and be patient and understanding when
          they seem to weaken a bit.

          Never despair, not ever. Be strong! Pray! Persevere and see the Truth. Do not run from the truth and say ” Oh the sky is falling, what shall we do?”
          What shall we do? We stay more faithful, stronger, and pray for the grace to do so.
          But we do NOT stay silent, when the time for each of us comes.
          Yes, there is joy in the Cross, in uniting our angst with Christ, and offering comfort to His Mother. But, there is no joy to be found in silence.

      • Correct.

        Great post.

        All true Catholics in the West are in foxholes, I’m afraid.

        The Church in many places has become indistinguishable from the Episcopalian heresy.

  6. Dubia one year anniversary fast approaching. I’m hoping that they’ve decided to give Francis one whole year to answer the questions and I’m praying that the correction will come on or about that date. Let’s hope they follow through on this.

  7. Your Eminence,Cardinal Burke, we, the faithful and all members of the Mystical Body of Christ, need your continual battle in defense of Christ and Church teachings. You,the late Cardinal Meisner and remaining brave and faithful Disciples of Jesus Christ,who presented the “Dubia”to the Pope, are the Light shinning in the darkness spreading like a cancer throughout Christendom.


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