(John-Henry Westen, Life Site News – april 17th, 2018) A single line in Cardinal Raymond Burke’s address at the recent “Catholic Church: Where are you going?” conference concerned the consequences of necessary disobedience to Pope Francis. Burke has already faced demotion at the hands of Pope Francis but many have wondered what he’d do if the penalty for his resistance to the Pope’s departure from Church teaching would be intensified to excommunication.
LifeSiteNews asked Cardinal Burke if he has ever envisioned such consequences for himself as he has walked his path of resistance to the Pope’s direction on communion for divorced and “remarried” Catholics.
In his talk at the April 7 conference, Cardinal Burke referred to the writings of Cardinal Henry of Susa, called Hostiensis, a 13th-century canonist. “Apart from public admonition and prayer for divine intervention, (Hostiensis) does not offer a remedy for the (papal) abuse of the fullness of power,” said Cardinal Burke. “If, a member of the faithful believes in conscience that a particular exercise of the fullness of power is sinful and cannot bring his conscience to peace in the matter, ‘the pope must, as a duty, be disobeyed, and the consequences of disobedience be suffered in Christian patience.’”
Cardinal Burke told LifeSiteNews: “I have envisioned such consequences” of resisting the Pope including excommunication. “Yes, the consequences could be very severe,” he said. “One has only to remember how Saint Athanasius, for example, was exiled for defending the truth of the two natures in the one Divine Person of Our Lord.”
St. Athanasius was banished five times over his 45-year bishopric for maintaining the truth of the Incarnation fighting the Arian heresy. Under duress, Pope Liberius excommunicated Athanasius for a time.
“Suffering with Christian patience means that one remains faithful to Christ in His holy Catholic Church, even if one suffers at the hands of certain leaders in the Church,” explained Cardinal Burke. “That is what the great saints like Saint Athanasius and Saint John Chrysostom, for example, teach us.”
St. John Chrysostom, who was known for criticizing the abuse of authority of both religious and political leaders, was exiled for years. He died en route to a further banishment. Even in exile, his writings were very influential.
“To suffer with Christian patience means to be concerned ultimately with only one judgment, the judgment of Our Lord, when we appear before him at our death and at the Final Judgment,” concluded Cardinal Burke in his email response to LifeSiteNews.
On May 17-18 life, family, and faith leaders will gather in Rome to strategize on the current crisis in the Vatican at the annual Rome Life Forum. The event will feature two leading voices of faithfulness to Catholic teaching, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider. It will be an opportunity for gathering together faithful from around the world to intercede for the light of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in this time of great crisis.