The Catholic Church continues to be embroiled in scandal after scandal as the Pope seems unable to take decisive action against predatory priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors. An estranged Cardinal, who was demoted by the Pope from Archbishop status, continues to blame the scandals on the LGBTQ community and an “aggressive agenda,” calling for the return to 1917 Canon Law to oust gay people from the priesthood.
Cardinal Raymond Burke was demoted by Pope Francis after his 2014 comments that showed aggressive homophobia. The comments came in wake of a massive sexual abuse scandal in Philadelphia. 1,000 children had been abused at the hands of more than 300 predator priests.
Following his comments, Burke was demoted from the head of the Catholic Church’s version of the Supreme Court. Interestingly, on his newly-created website, Cardinal Burke avoids mention of that demotion or even that Pope Benedict XVI once named him the head of the Vatican’s supreme court.
In an interview with Life Site News, Burke said that LGBTQ people should not be invited to family gatherings if children are present.
“This is a very delicate question, and it’s made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda. But one has to approach this in a very calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner. If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person? We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn’t expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.”
“And so, families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.”
“And we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy. And so it’s important to stay [as] close as one can. But, that particular form of relationship should not be imposed upon family members, and especially upon impressionable children. And I urge parents or grandparents — whoever it may be — to be very, very prudent in this matter and not to scandalize their children or grandchildren.”
“There’s so much in our society today which is giving the message that any form of sexual relationship, if it somehow pleases you — or you’re attracted to it — is alright, is correct. And we don’t want our children to get that impression, by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.”
“It certainly is a source of great suffering, but striving to do what is right and good always involves suffering. And in this case, it surely will. But that suffering will indeed be redemptive in the end.”
“Now with regard to parishes, the situation is very similar because the parish is — I believe it was Saint John Paul II who once said — a ‘family of families.’ And so, if you have a parish member who is living in public sin in a homosexual relationship, well, the priest should try to stay close to that individual — or to both the individuals if they’re Catholic — and try to help them to leave the sinful relationship and to begin to lead a chaste life. The pastor [should] encourage them also to pray and to participate in Sunday Mass and other appropriate ways of trying to overcome grave sin in their lives.”
“Those people [who] are living in that way certainly cannot have any leadership role in the parish, because it would give the impression to parishioners that the way they are living is perfectly alright. Because, [when] we lead in a parish, in a certain way, we are giving witness to a coherent Catholic life. And people who are not coherent with their Catholic faith aren’t given leadership roles. They are not asked, for instance, to be a lector at the Holy Mass — or [to] assume some other leadership position — until they have rectified their situation and gone through a conversion of life and then are ready to give such leadership.”
“On the one hand, it certainly gives scandal to parishioners with regard to a very essential part of our life, our sexuality, [and] what it means. On the other hand, it’s not good for the two people involved in the disordered relationship because it also gives them the idea that the Church somehow approves of what they’re doing.”
In response to the sexual abuse scandals in the church, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke generally avoids directly calling out child abuse, molestation, or rape. Instead, he speaks about “grave sins and crimes,” “mortal sins,” a “grave crisis,” or “a grievous moral breakdown.” The children are generally referred to as “victims” without directly referencing their youth or age.
Instead, Cardinal Burke scapegoats all same-sex relationships, including between consenting adults. In a 2018 interview, Burke railed against any notion that any LGBTQ people should be accepted by the Catholic Church. He held all same-sex adult relationships as the “gravest of sins” without calling out child abuse.
“I’ve seen people suggesting that now church discipline doesn’t regard consensual activity between [same sex] adults as crimes.”
“This is completely false. The church has always thought that this was among the gravest of sins that a cleric could commit,” said Burke.
In the same interview, Burke agreed to the notion of a return to the 1917 Code of Canon Law. That law makes it clear that abuse of minors should result in expulsion from the church, but also includes sodomy as an offense that would result in expulsion from the church. The Cannon Law was changed in 1983 to reference sexual abuse against minors under the age of sixteen but omitted other specific crimes.
The 1917 Law read:
“If an offense against the sixth commandment with minors under the age of sixteen years of age be admitted, or if adultery, rape, bestiality, sodomy, pimping, or incest with first-degree relations be carried out, they are to be suspended, declared infamous and deprived of every office, benefit, dignity and function that they might have and in the more serious cases, deposed.”
Later in the interview, Cardinal Burke acknowledges Jesus as the true Head of the Church. But Jesus never said anything about homosexuality and the word “homosexuality” didn’t show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946.
“The Head of the Church is never a person other than someone who is acting in the name of Jesus Christ and of fidelity to the tradition,” said Burke.
Instead of focusing on alienating and demonizing the LGBTQ community, the Catholic church and Cardinal Raymond Burke should instead shift focus to where the problem actually is: sexual abuse against minors. Their failure to target the problem is causing a mass exodus from the church and rightly so.
“A Gallup poll published in March found that 37% of U.S. Catholics are considering leaving the church because of the sex abuse crisis and the church’s handling of it. That’s up significantly from 2002, when just 22% of Catholics said they were contemplating leaving their religion after The Boston Globe published an explosive series that initially exposed the abuse and subsequent cover-up.”
The Catholic Church must stop demonizing and scapegoating all gay people and take responsibility for the rampant abuse of minors within the church.
See Cardinal Burke discuss his views on the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church below:
Featured image: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke via Wikimedia Commons