“The Pope’s Unforced Error”

Over at the National Review, a post appears written by Father Benedict Kiely (pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Stowe, VT)  that provides a good situation report about the  “general battlefield conditions and troop movements”, to use a military metaphor. (Link here) On an aside, cd. Burke will be the head chaplain of a military order, after all. I will not go into the detail, since these are facts that all readers of this blog should be familiar with. What I will highlight are certain aspects of Fr. Kiely’s post that provide “optics” of the reign of the bishop of Rome Francis, in contrast to those provided to the general public by the slavishly adoring MSM.

Fr. Kiely starts with an introduction:

Burke has been “promoted” downward to a position that is normally a sinecure for an elderly cardinal past his sell-by date. As the new cardinal protector of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Burke, a youthful 66, will now oversee the Knights of Malta, one of the oldest existing military orders in the Catholic Church. They are known today mainly for their works of charity.

Next Fr. Kiely takes aim at the MSM image of ” Francis the reformer”:

Despite the image of Francis as a man of dialogue and compromise, he is regarded in Rome as the most authoritarian pope in decades. He is also a man known to settle scores. Immediately after his election as pope, he swiftly moved an Argentinian bishop known to have been his chief opponent when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires — another “downward” promotion — transferring him to an obscure position in the Vatican bureaucracy. In the space of just over two years, Pope Bergoglio has been removing, or not reappointing, many of the key men put in place by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Once the point has been driven home of just how petty and vindictive the bishop of Rome in fact is, Fr. Kiely contrasts him with Cardinal Burke:

Even Cardinal Burke’s enemies — and he has many, and they are all ideological — admit that he is exceptional in that he has never evinced ambition for higher office. But Francis brooks no opposition, so Burke had to go.

Next the “crimes” of the Great Cardinal are presented:

His crimes? Burke upholds traditional Biblical teaching on marriage and encourages devotion to the traditional Latin Mass.He is regularly seen in different countries celebrating a liturgy that Francis regards as a relic of the past, although the churches where these Masses are celebrated are usually filled with large young families, and they produce a wealth of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. (Buenos Aires was known to have hardly any vocations in the seminary during the time that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was archbishop.) But perhaps Cardinal Burke’s most glaring offense was that he declared that Catholic politicians who support abortion should be refused Communion.

Not a very pleasant picture is presented of the present occupant of the See of St. Peter. And this portrait is being produced by a member of the secular clergy in good standing.

Once the facts about the papacy of Francis are enumerated, Fr. Kiely presents the reader with a wider context to the quite “pathological” situation in Rome. Fr. Kiely writes;

What does this apparently inter-ecclesiastical dispute matter to the wider world? In the first place, it shows how the only large global institution that represents what might be called the traditional view of the family and society is divided, and that division is clearly bad for those who care about the future of the family and civil society. On a more positive note: This could mark the last rally of a certain Sixties mentality in rapid decline. Unless they are weather-vanes tilting with the wind of ambition, the priests and bishops ordained since Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict have nothing in common with the bell-bottomed theology that, at least for a season, has been revived in Rome.

And here Fr. Kiely identifies the problem that the most astute observers of this pontificate have been expressing for 32 odd months, namely this: the Francis papacy is stuck in a time warp circa 1968.

And as a final “kick in the proverbial teeth” of the present pontiff, Fr. Kiely writes this:

There is one possible final irony. Some have speculated that Pope Francis, who turns 78. next month, will follow the example of his predecessor and eventually step down from the Petrine office, perhaps at age 80. In any case, Raymond Burke will likely be a significant figure at the conclave to elect his successor, and already some observers are predicting that the courtiers’ foe will end up as the next king.

Yes dear readers, the “cd. Burke as papabile” is starting to get traction, and Fr. Kiely does a great service by getting it out into the public domain.

And on a final note, after reading this piece, the part that stays in my mind is the following passage:

In today’s Vatican, the courtiers have the upper hand. It is as a patriot, a man discontented with yet loving his Church, that Burke in his new position will enjoy a freedom that until now he did not have.

Let’s just pray that this passage gets lodged in the collective conscious of the readers of the National Review and not only.