Cardinal Raymond Burke has said that if the family synod opened the way for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion then it has “departed from Catholic teaching in a very fundamental matter”.
The cardinal, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, made the comments in an interview with Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society.
He cited an article by Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, who said the synod had “laid the foundations” for remarried Catholics to be admitted to Communion.
Fr Spadaro, said Cardinal Burke, “goes through this whole confused argument about a ‘penitential way’ and ‘internal forum solution’ to say that now the way is open for all this”.
“So I believe that Catholics should be very concerned,” Cardinal Burke said. “If, in fact, the Synod is taking this position, then it has departed from Catholic teaching in a very fundamental matter. The teaching of the indissolubility of marriage is based on the very words of Our Lord in the Gospel.”
The cardinal was asked by the interviewer, Dylan Parry, what concerned Catholics should do.
“I think Catholics should simply say ‘I cannot accept this teaching as it goes against what the Church has always taught and practised.’ I don’t think that Catholics should permit themselves to be driven away from the Church by those who are not upholding the Church’s teaching.”
The cardinal also said that Pope Francis’s annulment reform was a “radical departure” from Church practice.
The cardinal, a leading canon lawyer and former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority in the Church apart from the pope, said: “The reforms are radical and they are a radical departure from what has been the consistent practice with regard the examination of a claim of nullity of marriage.”
He said also bishops should not be asked to judge marriage nullity cases, as will be the case under the Pope’s reforms.
“Many bishops are not canon lawyers and there is nothing wrong with that, but they shouldn’t be asked to do things they haven’t been prepared to do,” he said.
The cardinal said he was “not an enemy of the Pope and never will be”, explaining: “You won’t find a single statement of mine in which I am speaking against the Holy Father. I just don’t do that.”
But he suggested that the Pope’s liking for language that was “unusual, colloquial and catchy” at times led to confusion.
“The danger of it is that because of who he is, the Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of the Universal Church, this language can be taken and used against the Church. This is certainly not the Holy Father’s intention. So, I think perhaps that’s one thing – and people have pointed this out to him – where he could be more attentive to resist that desire to speak in this way as it does cause confusion.
“I think, for example, of the famous phrase ‘Who am I to judge?’ and how that’s been misused to insinuate that the Church’s teaching about the intrinsic disorder of homosexual acts has changed.
“People who weren’t too fond of the Church used the 15, or I think it was 18, ailments of the Curia to say, ‘You see how sick and corrupt the Church is’ … So, no doubt people sometimes get the impression that the Pope is very upset with priests, bishops and even cardinals.”