Pope Francis Demotes Cardinal Burke

If this keeps up, pretty soon American conservatives will begin a new Truther Movement in search of Pope Francis’s birth certificate.

Pope Francis has officially demoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, a prominent American Cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s increasingly progressive tone when discussing issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”

But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

“The position of Patron of the the Order of Malta is usually given to a retired cardinal, or as a second task to an active cardinal,” Michael Sean Winters, a prominent Catholic journalist, wrote in the National Catholic Reporter. “It has almost no responsibilities. The demotion is unprecedented, and completely warranted: Cardinal Burke’s influence at the Vatican has been crushingly backward looking, and that influence has resulted in some unhappy appointments.”

Ross Douthat cannot be happy, as he recently wrote that “if [Pope Francis] moves to reassign potential critics in the hierarchy” he will be taking a dangerous path that could lead to a crisis that would invite a schism within the Church that might lead to a restoration of Pope Benedict XVI.

Douthat is a strange dude.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.