The Catholic world is awash in speculation today as the synod winds down. Cardinal Burke’s interview with BuzzFeed (BuzzFeed? Really?) has sent shockwaves throughout the Church:
If Pope Francis had selected certain cardinals to steer the meeting to advance his personal views on matters like divorce and the treatment of LGBT people, Burke said, he would not be observing his mandate as the leader of the Catholic Church.
“According to my understanding of the church’s teaching and discipline, no, it wouldn’t be correct,” Burke said, saying the pope had “done a lot of harm” by not stating “openly what his position is.” Burke said the Pope had given the impression that he endorses some of the most controversial parts of the Relatio, especially on questions of divorce, because of a German cardinal who gave an important speech suggesting a path to allowing people who had divorced and remarried to receive communion, Cardinal Walter Kasper, to open the synod’s discussion.
“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth,” Burke said. “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
Further, Burke — one of the Church’s most faithful prelates, and beloved by orthodox Catholics worldwide — has confirmed that he is being removed from the Apostolic Signatura:
BuzzFeed News: I should ask you about the reports that you’re being removed from the Signatura. What message is that sending? Do you think you are being removed in part because of how outspoken you have been on these issues?
Cardinal Burke: The difficulty — I know about all the reports, obviously. I’ve not received an official transfer yet. Obviously, these matters depend on official acts. I mean, I can be told that I’m going to be transferred to a new position but until I have a letter of transfer in my hand it’s difficult for me to speak about it. I’m not free to comment on why I think this may be going to happen.
BFN: Have you been told that you will be transferred?
BFN: You’re obviously a very well-respected person. That must be disappointing.
CB: Well, I have to say, the area in which I work is an area for which I’m prepared and I’ve tried to give very good service. I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it.
On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust that by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important. And even though I would have liked to have continued to work in the Apostolic Signatura, I’ll give myself to whatever is the new work that I’m assigned to…
BFN: And that is as the chancellor to the Order of Malta, is that right?
CB: It’s called the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, that’s right.
These two revelations from the always docile and measured Burke have shaken things loose. Even Michael Voris, who has made it an editorial policy of ChurchMilitant.tv not to criticize the pope (despite criticism of the troubling activities of bishops comprising a large portion of their core content) recorded a news brief last night that seemed to surprise even him:
All of this brings me back to Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Oxford interview in May of this year:
Q. Can you see a split coming in the Church?
BAS: ‘Unfortunately, for some decades some clergy have accepted these ideas of the world. Now however they are following them publicly. When these things continue, I think, there will be an interior split in the Church of those who are faithful to the faith of their baptism and of the integrity of the Catholic faith. There will be a split with those who are assuming the spirit of this world and there will be a clear split, I think. One can imagine that Catholics, who remain faithful to the unchangeable Catholic truth may, for a time, be persecuted or discriminated even on behalf of those who has power in the exterior structures of the Church? But the gates of the hell, i.e. of the heresy, will not prevail against the Church and the Supreme Magisterium will surely issue an unequivocal doctrinal statement, rejecting any collaboration with the neo-pagan ideas of changing e.g. the Sixth Commandment of God, the meaning of sexuality and of family. Then some ‘liberals’, and many collaborators with the spirit of this world, many modern “thurificati et traditores” will leave the Church. Because the Divine truth will unresistingly bring the clarification, will set us free, and will separate in the midst of the Church the sons of the Divine light and the sons of the of the pseudo-light of this pagan and anti-Christian world. I can presume that such a separation will affect each level of the Catholics: lay people and even not excluding the high clergy. Those clergy who accept today the spirit of the pagan world on morality and family declare themselves Catholics and even faithful to the Pope. They even declare extremists those who are faithful to the Catholic faith or those who are promoting the glory of Christ in the liturgy.’
Schneider seems to echo with specificity a part of what was revealed in the approved apparition of Our Lady of Akita on October 13, 1973:
The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalized. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them.”
Fifty-six years earlier to the day was the the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. On that day, Our Lady told the children:
“Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”
It seems to stretch the meaning of the word “coincidence” that the mid-synod relatio — the document which has caused bishops to stand and oppose other bishops, and perhaps even the pope — was issued on October 13, 2014. Some of the comments made by high-ranking prelates about the relatio include:
- “You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church. …While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.” – Cardinal Burke
- The document summarizing the first week of the synod is not acceptable to many bishops – Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, Chairman of the Polish Bishops Conference (no direct quote; from Polish radio interview)
- “The message has gone out: This is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic church is saying … And it’s not what we’re saying at all … No matter how we try correcting that … there’s no way of retrieving it. … The message has gone out and it’s not a true message … Whatever we say hereafter is going to be as if we’re doing some damage control.” – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier
- “Undignified, Shameful, Completely Wrong.” – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
We appear to be entering uncharted — but foretold — territory. Buckle up.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.