Monday, July 7, 2008

Personal Aside: We Can Hope Burke Wasn’t Kicked Upstairs, Can’t We? But We’re Not Sure…While “Tribune” Editorials Have Improved, Op Eds Veer to the Left.



Catholics who revere the Church and want it to be guided by strong, confident prelates, fervently hope that Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond L. Burke wasn’t kicked upstairs because his forthright stands made him unpopular with liberal constituencies. Burke will soon get the red hat in connection with his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the equivalent of the Church’s Supreme Court. I note that one of the most astute analysts of the Vatican, John Allen notwithstanding that he works for the liberal “National Catholic Reporter” but who is the premier reporter of Rome-based actions as well as expert on the Catholic hierarchy here and abroad, thinks Burke was NOT kicked upstairs. To me it has a definite odor about it. I think he was.

But we will soon know. How?

By the nature of the prelate named to replace Burke. If he is a namby pamby typical of the usual run-of-the-mill, we’ll know the Curia embedded for generations in the Vatican, has struck again. For many decades, the Curia has been cutting deals and promoting clerics who don’t make waves. Burke has made waves. He is the American bishop most closely identified with the push to deny the Eucharist to pro-abort Catholic politicians who want to continue receiving the sacrament so as to blur public notions about their fidelity to the Church’s teaching. Such NARAL politicians…the Kennedys, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi et al… make a big point of “following our conscience with no interference.” Very well, if their conscience tells them to violate Church teaching, they should have the courage to abstain from the sacrament or leave the Church entirely.

But such is their wish to have it both ways that they seek to trivialize Church teaching by receiving the sacrament AND voting for the death of the unborn. In that way grave scandal is created in two senses. First, Church doctrinal strictures are regarded as purely advisory and can be violated. Second, by violating these strictures, example is given to other pro-aborts that they can have it both ways—receiving the Eucharist in the obvious state of mortal sin and not be rebuked by their Church. Make no mistake, to be denied the sacrament is a great political liability, as Dick Durbin knows who has to make the trek to Chicago to demonstrate his Catholicity. The remainder of the NARAL Catholics have been given a pass.

It is noteworthy that the prelate here does not agree with Burke, which is no great surprise. To agree with Burke is to offend the NARAL supporters, the Daleys, Durbin and the entirety of the NARAL Catholic Democratic state government including Speaker Mike Madigan; the president of the Illinois state senate, Emil Jones; the state attorney general, Lisa Madigan; the comptroller Dan Hynes; the president o the Cook county board etc. Not only does he disagree with Burke, he does not muster the courage to threaten to remove the Catholic label from DePaul which preys on the young with Queer Studies 101 which is an inducement to mortal sin. He doesn’t even threaten the alternative of removal of the “Catholic” label from DePaul…he doesn’t rein in Fr. Michael Pfleger and only half-heartedly “suspended” him which gained Pfleger more media attention and a huge celebration when he returned to Saint Sabina’s. Doing these things would offend the impregnable Cook county and Illinois Democratic hierarchy of NARAL Catholics who supply the Church with temporal power and have made their own accommodation.

In contrast, Burke has been a towering bastion in the fight to return the Church to its authenticist moorings by exhibiting courage which drew fire from secular and liberal Catholic media sources. He publicly opposed rock star Sheryl Crow’s appearance for a Catholic hospital in Saint Louis because Crow is a vehement pro-abort; he had the guts to oppose Saint Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus who is a city icon for his many court victories, for Majerus’ public support of abortion. He has gone on record declaring that Catholic politicians who support abortion should be denied reception of the Eucharist. In short, he has been an exemplary bishop—one of very few who have mustered the fortitude to stand against secular public opinion. For which he may have alienated the Curia. Not the Pope. The Curia.

Allen reported that he interviewed the Chicago cardinal archbishop on the subject of Burke’s record and received the following superbly parsed answer: “I think it’s a good canonical argument. But, pastorally, you still have to decide what this means in the concrete cases we’re talking about…The question is, do you risk politicizing the sacrament? That’s my biggest concern. The very sacrament that speaks about our unity becomes the occasion for this kind of fracas and disunity. I think we should think long and hard before we allow the Eucharist to become that.”

“Politicizing the sacrament?” That’s about as ingenious a contortion of illogic as befits a master rhetorician as is possible to find. Does the politician who votes for abortion, thumbs his nose at his Church strictures and then presents himself for Communion not politicize the sacrament by asking to receive it? Or does the priest who withholds conferring the sacrament politicize it? Is the priest and not the unworthy communicant politicizing the sacrament? Obviously the archbishop cannot and does not believe that. He sees it as a cleverly structured way out—to avoid confrontation with the above-mentioned litany of powerful Dem party worshipers who are NARAL Catholics, starting with the mayor and proceeding up through the Democratic ticket and ending finally at the Democratic Whip of the Senate..

Unity is essential? Righto. Which is what Christ meant in Matthew 10:34, did He not? He stressed unity and opposed “fracas and disunity” by these words: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And one’s foes will be members is one’s own household.”

These words have been always interpreted in this manner: Christ did not come to foster a false and earthly peace or “unity,” , the peace that is accommodationist—with the absence of confrontation. The sword He talks about is the sword of the scripture, “the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, lively and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Pursuing the word of God faithfully CAN lead to all sorts of difficulties as we all know—as Archbishop Burke and others who pursue steadfastly have discovered. To elevate “unity” as the sole determinant is to foster a false sense of civility where to simply get along, one sublimates principle. Worshiping “unity” over principle is the trademark of the Curial bureaucracy which seemingly reigns no matter who is pope…and has reigned for centuries.

We will find out in short order what the Burke move has really meant when his successor is picked for Saint Louis. Moving a boldly confident prelate to Rome where he will preside over a glorified marriage court and hair-splitting canonical debating society doesn’t strike authenticists as helpful for those who want to see discipline returned to the Church on its front lines where the faithful worship, not in the Vatican library. I would have thought the cardinal-archbishop of Chicago who with his two doctorates is master of clever nuance… who draws infinitely fine, finer and finest distinctions over meanings of words e.g. “it can be argued that the Republican party never had a soul” for example as he told the City Club of Chicago in his memorable address, with the emphasis on “it can be argued” as a loophole when challenged… would have been a far better appointment for canonical jurisprudence. But we shall see who follows Burke.

Left-Leaning “Trib” Op Eds.

I reported earlier that the editorials of the “Tribune” have markedly improved—taking a definite stand and not just shrugging “stay tuned” as they used to. But with a few notable exceptions, Op Eds that are chosen have a definite veer to the left. We have commented on the know-nothing leftism of John McCarron who doesn’t know beans about free market policies. Now take a look at yesterday’s…Sunday’s…selection.

Ultra-libertarian Steve Chapman who does not seem to recognize that we are in a war but plods the old line on make-believe idealistic foreign policy where we offend no one and no one rebukes us has a piece hitting the government for abrogating the civil liberties of terrorist suspects at Gitmo. Then there is an absurd one entitled “Is it time to retire the Pledge of Allegiance?” by a syndicated writer, some nihilist named Paul M. Howey, who doesn’t understand…perhaps since he wasn’t born then…that a pledge of fealty to a nation beset by Cold War was needed and is still needed. Followed by an in-artful simpatico by one Rex W. Huppke, a reporter, whining in behalf of those who are offended by questions directed to Barack Obama as if he is the first presidential candidate to be scrutinized. No mention of the bogus sex charge raised against John McCain and a female lobbyist qualifies, just whimpering from a guilt-ridden white reporter on how unfair life is to blacks now that a black candidate is running for president.

Followed by the sleazy maneuvers of ideological equivalence by Michael Tackett, not an Op Ed writer but bureau chief of the Washington bureau. Tit for tat, Tit: He is appalled that Obama’s decision not to wear a flag lapel which he announced early in the campaign was an issue: what did he imagine when a candidate announces this decision. Tat: he is shocked at Gen. Wesley Clark’s assault on McCain for using his prisoner-of-war status as a qualification for president in the campaign. Tit: but Tackett is once again appalled at the right by recalling the Swift Boat campaign that derailed John Kerry. The Swift Boat campaign was right on the button, never disproved but liberals like Tackett…and he’s the slyest…describe Swift Boat in the terms that a generation of earlier liberals invented for “McCarthyism.”

That was the commentary budget for the “Trib” yesterday. Gitmo is a usurpation of government power…the Pledge of Allegiance should be dropped…and a reminiscence that Swift Boats were dirty pool. All on one day. Happy weekend. And they wonder why newspaper circulation at the “Trib” is dropping.

Is the ex-cookbook editor who prefers leftwing commentating still calling the shots on Op Eds?


  1. Dear Tom,

    You say, "[Archbishop] Burke will soon get the red hat in connection with his appointment by Pope Gregory XVI as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura..."

    Are you sure you didn't mean [anti-]Pope Gregory XVII? Cf.

  2. I am only a pewsitter, but could the Holy Father have some other motive? Given that he is 81 years old, would he not want to place Burke in Rome, in a 'red hat' position -albeit a quieter one-which might position him as a candidate for the papecy?

  3. They might give St. Louis to an American Bishop serving in Rome. Personally I would like them to give it to someone like ABR. Charles Chaput of Denver. I would also like to see the Red Hat return to St. Louis--have not had a Cardinal since Carberry.