By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/18/2013 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Pope Francis has made a change in the Congregation for Bishops, replacing former Archbishop of St. Louis and Cardinal Raymond Burke with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, widely seen as a moderate. Cardinal Burke will remain in his post as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has made an apparently eyebrow-raising change in the influential Congregation for Bishops, the body that selects new bishops for much of the Church. Pope Francis has replaced the staunchly conservative Cardinal Burke with the slightly-less staunchly conservative Cardinal Wuerl.
Immediately, the media has rushed to read the tea leaves to determine if this is part of some epic, pending reform within the Church where Pope Francis will appoint women to the priesthood and invite gays to marry in the Vatican.
No such luck.
Cardinal Burke has captured attention for some of his statements in the past, which demonstrate his fiercely conservative Catholic views. He is staunchly pro-life and has called for withholding communion from high-ranking political figures who publicly support abortion of children in the womb. He has even criticized fellow members of the Church who he feels have not done enough to bar such people from communion.
In fact, Pope Francis recently praised Burke for his advocacy.
Cardinal Burke is being replaced by the slightly more moderate Cardinal Wuerl who also opposes abortion but hasn't called for barring political officials who are anti-life from communion.
Although the media would make this difference into a mountain, it's actually quite a narrow gap. Both Cardinals are pro-life, pro-marriage and espouse traditional Catholic values.
We can speculate for days on the change and still be wrong. Is Pope Francis replacing a perceived hard-liner with a perceived moderate? For whatever it's worth, yes.
However, the Holy Father is not diluting the message of the Church, nor weakening its firm opposition to abortion or its emphasis on the God-centered traditional family.
Pope Francis does expect his bishops to be more pastoral in their approach, which likely includes more engagement with people who are traditionally marginalized, specifically the poor, sick, and imprisoned. Cardinal Wuerl has a reputation of being more pastoral in this respect than Cardinal Burke.
Cardinal Burke will remain in his position as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
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