Pope Francis on Cardinal Burke, the synod, Curia reform and more

Pope Francis on Cardinal Burke, the synod, Curia reform and more

Pope Francis has a new interview out, addressing controversies over the recent Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Raymond Burke and plans to reform the Roman Curia.

On Cardinal Burke, the pope said his recent departure from a Vatican tribunal should not be seen as punishment for the cardinal’s outspoken remarks during the October synod. The pope said he needed a “smart American” to serve as patron of the Knights of Malta, and that Burke thanked him for the reassignment.

One of the most interesting passages in the interview came when the pope defended efforts to relax restrictions on divorced and remarried Catholics – a contested issue at the recent synod. The pope said the question goes beyond reception of Communion; it also touches on their other potential roles in the church, including that of godparents. Right now, these people seem to be de facto excommunicated, he said.

Pope Francis was interviewed by Argentine journalist Elisabetta Piqué, whose book Francis: Life and Revolution is one of the best biographies of the pontiff. The full texts can be read at the site of the Argentine newspaper La Nacion in four parts focusing on key topics: the Roman Curia and Cardinal Burke, the synod on the family, the church and politics in Argentina and the recent decision to change the commander of the Swiss Guards. (The first two parts are available in English and Spanish.)

Here are some highlights.

On resistance to his ideas surfacing among other church leaders:

Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It´s healthy to get things out into the open, it's very healthy. … It all seems normal to me, if there were no difference of opinions, that wouldn't be normal.

On Cardinal Burke:

One day Cardinal Burke asked me what he would be doing as he had still not been confirmed in his position, in the legal sector, but rather had been confirmed "donec alitur provideatur." And I answered, "Give me some time because we are thinking of a legal restructuring of the G9." I told him nothing had been done about it yet and that it was being considered. After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him, "This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod as dicastery head." As the chaplain of Malta he wouldn't have been able to be present. He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of travelling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.

On changes in the Roman Curia, the pope said economic reforms were well underway and that the Vatican bank was now “operating beautifully, we did quite a good job there.” But he said the streamlining of other Vatican agencies will probably not be completed in 2015:

No, it´s a slow process. The other day we got together with the Dicastery heads and submitted the proposal of joining Laypersons, Family, Justice and Peace Dicasteries. We discussed it all, each one of us said what he thought. Now it will be forwarded back to the G9. You know, reforming the Curia will take a long time, this is the most complex part.


The head of a dicastery such as the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, the liturgical dicastery or the new dicastery encompassing Laymen, Family and Justice and Peace will always be a cardinal. This is best because dicasteries are very close to the Pope. But dicastery secretaries do not necessarily have to be bishops because a problem we have is when we have to change a bishop-secretary, where do we send him? We need to find a dioceses, but sometimes they are not fit for one, they´re good at the other job.

The pope warned against misinterpreting what the recent Synod of Bishops said on homosexuals:

Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod, it did not cross our minds. What we did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation. That is to say, the synod addressed the family and the homosexual persons in relation to their families, because we come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.

On divorced and remarried Catholics:

In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated, true. But they cannot be godfathers to any child being baptized, mass readings are not for divorcees, they cannot give communion, they cannot teach Sunday school, there are about seven things that they cannot do, I have the list over there. Come on! If I disclose any of this it will seem that they have been excommunicated in fact! Thus, let us open the doors a bit more. Why cant they be godfathers and godmothers? "No, no, no, what testimony will they be giving their godson?" The testimony of a man and a woman saying "my dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe our Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on." Anything more Christian than that? And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, are chosen to be somebody's godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption? Things need to change, our standards need to change.



7 comments (Add your own)

1. Michael wrote:
The door for sinners is always open. It is called the confessional.

Sun, December 7, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

2. Yaya wrote:
Thanks for commenting on our Holy Father's interview with regards to what he actually said and did and not.

I am grateful these questions were asked so since so many who are so critical of Pope Francis spent a good deal of time online and elsewhere (the awful and mean spirited article posted in the National Catholic Register comes to mind, "The Humiliation of Cardinal Burke") raking him over the coals for his so-called "demotion" of Cardinal Burke.

Now the truth has come to light and it will stand in stark contrast to what was supposedly "the truth."

Thanks be to God!

Sun, December 7, 2014 @ 11:44 AM

3. Johnson, E wrote:
I too am grateful these questions were asked so since so many who are supposedly boosters of Pope Francis spend a good deal of time twisting his words. They use the Pope like a sock puppet to pretend he backs every thing they have always wanted. They kept telling us of a supposed "Francis Agenda" that Francis himself had never mentioned. This agenda mysteriously looked a lot like the progressive agenda. They kept telling us that the Pope disliked Burke (just as they did!), was diametrically opposed to everything Burke stood for(Just like they were!). This was all baloney. Their comments were very mean spirited (Virtually every article and comment on the National Catholic reporter comes to mind). We were told the Pope was insisting that divorced and remarried must have communion. He wasn't. Like a perfectly reasonable person, he was simply searching for some way to be more merciful to them.

Sun, December 7, 2014 @ 1:29 PM

4. Ron Jones wrote:
I especially like this quote, "And what if one of the political crooks among us, corrupt people, are chosen to be somebody's godfather. If they are properly wedded by the Church, would we accept them? What kind of testimony will they give to their godson? A testimony of corruption? Things need to change, our standards need to change."
I believe he is speaking to the hypocrisy that hides just under the surface.

Sun, December 7, 2014 @ 4:28 PM

5. Steve wrote:
Re the quote about a corrupt politician being allowed to be a godfather; Would the man be allowed to be a godfather if it were conclusively known that he was a crook and corrupt?

Mon, December 8, 2014 @ 5:04 AM

6. bill bannon wrote:
Apparently since married corrupt married people are made God parents ergo...e.g. someone who deserted their wife and remarried a younger model should also be a God parent. He does not distinguish between those who suffer divorce and those who cause it and then are in an adulterous modality which they are enjoying....while their real spouse is permanently deprived of the affirmation that comes through sexual relations inter alia. The Malta comments are non explanatory. It's a group of wealthy Catholics doing much charity work. How much Cardinal input is required? Is there really a Cardinal anywhere whose IQ is not up to being their overseer? How many hours a week are required? The brevity of explanation is there and will continue because reporters want next time access...so our Popes continue to get softball interfacing from "reporters". It's farcical. The Malta event aroused suspicion precisely because the Pope begins such events with no explanation....then later gives a softball reporter a very brief version with no cross examination. And you're still left with questions. Well did Toynbee admire the Church but note it had qualities of an arrested culture.

Mon, December 8, 2014 @ 7:43 AM

7. bvsg wrote:
Pope Francis says he wanted Cardinal Burke at the Synod as Dicastery head because his input was so important and so did not remove him until afterward and that the cardinal's removal was not related in any way to what he said during the synod.

If this statement were true then the pope would have given the cardinal a position in which he could also be present for the second and more important part of the synod.

Instead the pope has ensured that the cardinal will not be there for the complete synod meeting in 2015....so I am not convinced at all by these few words from the pope to a journalist.

No the pope's actions speak far louder than his words

Wed, December 10, 2014 @ 12:22 AM

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