Last weekend’s decision by Pope Francis to remove the conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke from his position as head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signature, the Holy See’s Supreme Court, signals a new, harder edge in the battle within the Vatican between those who would modernise the Catholic Church and those who would, as they see it, defend its traditions and truths.
Irish American Cardinal Burke rejected an interim document from the recent Rome synod which called on Catholics to welcome homosexuals, with their “gifts and qualities”, into the Christian community insisting that “they [homosexuals] must understand that even though they have this attraction, it is an attraction to disordered acts and that they need to seek the healing and grace needed and to order their lives correctly…”.
Cardinal Burke has a record of defending his conservative beliefs in a forthright way. While archbishop of St Louis, he led campaigns to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who supported legalised abortion. Last year the Pope removed Cardinal Burke from the Congregation for Bishops, the body dealing with the appointment of bishops around the world. Like nearly every religion, Catholicism is caught in this modern dilemma. Does it reject the modern world and risk irrelevance or embrace it? Once again the limits of faith and the human instinct to tolerate and love are in conflict.
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