Cardinal Raymond Burke doesn't know exactly when he'll be ordered to step down from the Catholic church's highest court, but he's disappointed to be leaving his post for a smaller, less influential role.
That's according to an interview former St. Louis archbishop Burke gave to Buzzfeed, a rare instance of Burke sharing with the secular media, as the two-week, worldwide meeting of church leaders, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, came to a close in Rome.
Burke says he's been informed he'll be transferred to his new role as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, but he's yet to receive his official orders.
Burke tells Buzzfeed that he would have preferred to stay in the court but will follow wherever the Church tells him to go.
"I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it," Burke says, adding later, "I trust that by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that's what's in the end most important."
Burke's reassignment has been called an "eminent decapitation" and a demotion.
"He's removed from all power," Frank Flinn, a retired adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University, told Daily RFT. "It's much more than just a style thing that's going on here. It's the direction of the Church."
Last week's synod made international headlines when a leaked midterm report showed some cardinals were supportive of a radical opening of the church to gays and divorced people.
Burke, a highly conservative church leader who once told St. Louis voters it was a mortal sin to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, came out ahead of the release of the report to tell the Catholic world that gay relationships are "always and everywhere wrong, evil."
Burke said he thought Pope Francis had "certainly done a lot of harm" by manipulating the synod to give more voice to liberal cardinals who support allowing LGBT and divorced people to gain more rights and acceptance in the Church.
"The pope is not free to change the church's teaching with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other truth of the faith," Burke tells Buzzfeed. "On the contrary, his work is to teach these truths and to insist on the discipline which reflects the truths in practice."
Burke says the church needs to sternly bring people "suffering from same-sex attraction" back into the fold "for the person's own good."
"If people don't accept the church's teaching on these matters, then they're not thinking with the church and they need to examine themselves on that and correct their thinking or leave the church if they absolutely can't accept what the Church teaches," he tells Buzzfeed.
SNAP, the St. Louis group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse, celebrated Burke's ouster to Malta as "just" and "healthier" for the Church. The group blames Burke for ignoring or concealing sex abuse cases involving priests.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.