Divider or Uniter? Inside the Mind of the Controversial Cardinal Burke

Ignatius Press

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Cardinal Raymond Burke has been one of the most outspoken leaders of the Catholic Church in recent history, boldly defending the Church’s teachings on controversial topics, such as abortion, same-sex marriage and whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive Communion.

Burke and three other cardinals — Joachim Meisner, Carlo Caffarra and Walter Brandmüller — recently wrote a private letter to Pope Francis in which they asked him to clarify certain statements concerning Church teachings about marriage, divorce and Holy Communion in his 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”). The Holy Father chose not to respond, prompting the four cardinals to publish it online, a controversial decision that has led many to believe Burke, who has been critical of Francis in the past, dislikes the Pope and is trying to cause division in the Church.

Neither could be further from the truth. Burke isn’t an “enemy of the Pope.”

“I’ve said to the Pope himself, in conversations with him — and these by the way are friendly conversations — I told him, ‘Holy Father, the only way I can serve you is by speaking the truth in the best and clearest way possible,’” said Burke in an interview with Religion News Service. “His response to me is: ‘That’s what I want.’”

Burke is a man of the Church and a great supporter of all the Holy Fathers, including Francis. He simply believes families are the foundation of society, and wants to eliminate any confusion on moral issues, especially those concerning marriage and the family, which is apparent in his latest book, Hope for the World, a thorough and hard-hitting discussion with French journalist Guillaume d’Alançon.

He frankly offers his thoughts and insights on the pressing and controversial topics of our time – the role of the Catholic Church in the modern world, the liturgy, spiritual renewal, marriage, family, respect for human life, radical feminism, Islam, poverty and more – in Hope for the World. Burke’s deep love for Christ and the Catholic Church is evident throughout the book.

“My hope is that the Church may be more and more faithful to her identity as the Bride of Christ in her teaching, in her worship, in her prayer and devotion, and in her moral life,” says Burke in Hope for the World. “My hope is that every branch of the vine, that every member of the Body of Christ, may become closer and closer to Christ and may know, love and serve him, so that the glory of Christ may illuminate our world, as we await His final coming, when He will return all creation to the Father, thus inaugurating ‘new heavens and a new earth.’”

Want to know the real Burke? Read Hope for the World and you’ll uncover a good priest and an accomplished churchman in love with the Lord Jesus and passionate about the Lord’s flock.

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