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Archbishop Raymond Burke, Critic of Obama and Pro-Choice Pols, Named a Cardinal

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Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday said he would elevate two dozen churchmen to the influential rank of cardinal, a rank that for 20 of them includes the power to vote on a successor to the 83-year-old pontiff after his death. Among those tapped is an American archbishop who has become one of the harshest critics of President Obama and pro-choice politicians -- and of bishops he feels are not sufficiently hard line.

The pope's appointment of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, formerly head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and currently the top judge on the Vatican's supreme court, was balanced by the nomination of Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, a churchman of moderate temperament who has resisted calls by conservatives to police the altar rail by denying communion to pro-choice Catholic public figures in the capital.

Burke and Wuerl are the only two Americans among the 24 prelates who will be made cardinals at a pontifical Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome next month. Of that group, four are over the age of 80 and thus are not eligible to vote in a conclave, which will now include a total of 121 cardinal-electors, one above the customary ceiling of 120 voters.

Of the 20 vote-eligible cardinals-elect, Italians and Vatican officials predominate, leading Vatican-watcher John Allen to describe the appointments as "another chapter in the 're-Italianization' of the government of the church under Benedict XVI."

Eight of the new voting-age cardinals are Italians, which means Italians will account for one-fifth of the electorate for the next pope, Allen noted. Moreover, half of the new cardinals are Vatican officials, so that a total of 40 cardinals, or fully one-third of the electors, would be current or former Vatican officials, who generally have a very conservative worldview.

In addition, the church outside of Benedict's European homeland -- he was born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany's Catholic heartland -- also got short shrift in Wednesday's announced slate.

"Two-thirds of the Catholics in the world today live in the global South, but only one-third of Benedict's new cardinals are from the southern hemisphere," Allen wrote.

But it is the appointment of Burke that will draw the attention of many American Catholics.

Burke is just 62 and will have a long run as an elector if he lives to 80. He was also promoted ahead of other American candidates, such as New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Burke is also one of the most controversial Catholic bishops, even among an increasingly conservative hierarchy.

While heading the St. Louis archdiocese for several years, he pushed hard to use the denial of communion -- the central Catholic sacrament -- as a means to discipline Catholic politicians with whom he disagrees, and he has continued to press that position since his appointment to the Vatican in 2008.

In 2009 he told the anti-abortion activist Randall Terry that Catholics who voted for Obama engaged in "a form of cooperation" with evil and he chided his fellow bishops for not taking a harder line in denying communion to pro-choice politicians or those who support gay marriage. That was seen as an implicit criticism of Wuerl, 69, who issued a statement reiterating his own, more moderate views on the issue.

Burke later apologized for granting the interview because Terry used it for publicity purposes and in a way Burke did not appreciate.

But last September, Burke was at it again, saying Sen. Edward M. Kennedy should not have been given a Catholic funeral -- an especially harsh stance that had already been publicly and strongly rejected by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who told critics that Kennedy merited not only a Catholic funeral, but a public funeral as well.

And earlier this month, in an impassioned speech to an anti-abortion conference in Rome, Burke again said that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights or same-sex marriage should not only be denied communion but also a Catholic funeral when they die. And he added that he didn't think the American bishops were doing a good job of imposing penalties.

"When shepherds of the flock are obedient to the magisterium [church teaching] entrusted to their exercise, then surely the numbers of the flock grow in obedience," Burke told members of Human Life International. "If the shepherd isn't obedient, the flock easily gives way to confusion and error."

Quoting the Prophet Zechariah, he said the shepherd -- meaning bishops -- can be "especially tempted" by the assaults of Satan who, "if he can strike him, the work of scattering the flock is made easy."

Burke and Wuerl and the others will be formally made cardinals in the Vatican on Nov. 20.

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10 Comments

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bgabler28

lets be like Jesus and solve the problem. Give of your self, solve the problem.

October 24 2010 at 12:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bgabler28

I have met Raymond once, but know him well through what I have heard from priest in my area (I am from Eau Claire, WI) and also from my connections at the North American College and I have many. At first I was shocked to hear the news that he would be cardinal. I am not shocked for the same reason most are, I don't believe we should be backing off on our values. He is a lawyer and coming from a family of lawyers I can respect what they give us. Granted it is not always good, but when picking a new pope, I think we need one of the 121 should be Raymond Burke. I support the Pope in his decision, we can NOT question the Holy Spirit work. I see people protesting abortion on Menomonie Street in Eau and I want to stop and ask if they reject abortion when the mother's life is at risk or if there was rape. I want to know because most say NO and even the Church is okay with abortion when the mother might die. I want to say to these protestors. DO YOU WANT TO STOP ABORTION???? I work with foster kids and families that have tough situations. TAKE A KID. I have one for you. TAKE A KID. RAYMOND, you want to end abortion???????????? USE YOUR POWER TO GET ME 1 MILLION dollars in La Crosse and I WILL SAVE MORE KIDS than you EVER will in your court. You built a MILLION dollar Shrine to Mary, get me a million and I will almost end abortion in our area. Raymond has tradition view that happen to match 95% of my views, but we need to get results. I get result, we need to start helping those, so our values can be accepted.

October 24 2010 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandy

WHEW !! HERES ONE FOR YOU .. EVER NOTICE, THE GUY THROWING THE MOST ROCKS CAN BE 10 TIMES WORSE THAN THE POOR GUY TAKIN ALL THE HITS.. JUST A THOUGHT !!

October 23 2010 at 6:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
petrus127

"He was also promoted ahead of other American candidates, such as New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan." This is slightly misleading; Cardinal Egan is still an elector as retired Archbishop of New York, and traditionally there is only one elector from each major Archdiocese. Archbishop Dolan will certainly be made a cardinal when Cardinal Egan turns 80.

October 20 2010 at 5:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
amb200

The magisterium and the flock… what a quaint way to speak about the control of people's minds by a small group of men. Cardinal elect Burke wants Catholics to be obedient. Every evil recently uncovered in Roman Catholic history has stemmed from blind obedience to unnecessary or impossible ideals. In American culture, if a politician wants to return women to the dark ages, that politician is usually spurned from office. In the Roman Catholic Church blind obedience and disrespect for the ambitions of women result in promotion.

October 20 2010 at 5:01 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to amb200's comment
ultramonta

Amb200 writes: "Every evil recently uncovered in Roman Catholic history has stemmed from blind obedience to unnecessary or impossible ideals. " WRONG. Child molestation stems not from obedience to any ideal but from sexual perversion. And don't try to blame this one on the "impossible ideal" of clerical celibacy. All those married public school teachers who molest their students put the lie to that canard.

October 20 2010 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rural70

Abortion is so unimportant it is not even mentioned in the Bible. What Genesis does say is that when Adam is fully formed, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Fake Fundamentalists can take some obscure verse and twist it however they want, but it is only after taking that first breath after birth, that one becomes a human.

October 20 2010 at 3:23 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
westmifflin9

The pope may do as he pleases, but a thinker will not abide by unjust rules. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. I consider myself a good catholic. I don't go along with the church's beliefs in their anti-abortion thinking. There are too many unwanted/unloved children being born to parents who only care about themselves. Women are talked into keeping babies "for the sake of their families", not for the sake of the children. Men believe that the ability to father a child makes them more masculine...HA. Society needs to think with their brains, not with their hearts...common sense.

October 20 2010 at 2:27 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to westmifflin9's comment
Bob B

You can consider yourself a 'good' Catholic all you want - but that doesn't make you one - that will ultimately be determined when you meet your Maker ... good luck with that. Just because there are "too many unwanted/unloved children being born ....", doesn't justify denying others' a chance at a full life. My congratulations to the new American Cardinal-designates: Most Rev Archbishop Ramyond Burke and Most Rev Archbishop Donald W Wuerl!

October 20 2010 at 4:01 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
lhgraphics

so you don't believe the Church teaching that human life is sacred?

October 20 2010 at 4:03 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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