Thursday, January 8, 2015

Commentary on Cardinal Burke and the New Emangelization Project

Twitter's aflame now with tweets about Cardinal Raymond Burke's new emangelization program, with tweets like Michael O'Loughlin's above. Do a search at Twitter with the search terms "Cardinal Burke," and you'll discover a sartorial smorgasbord of amazing photos of His Eminence modeling for us that manly resplendence he finds absolutely necessary to the maintenance of a manly civilization and manly church that will attract real manly men to the manly Christ and his manly priesthood.

Emangelization night, emangelization day. Emangelization in lace, emangelization in silk. Emangelization in birettas and stunning galeros and awe-inducing cappae magnae: it's a hard task, but someone has to do it, no? Some poor feckless shmuck has to preach the gospel without words by walking the walk at all times, in season and out of season, as the rest of us slouchers fail at that high calling: someone has, night and day, silk or lace, cappa or galero, rain or shine, to deck out the gospel of emangelization in every manly costume at the disposal of the fathers of the church as they carry on their emangelizing mission, or the feminists will win and real men will run from the priesthood as fast as their feet can carry them.

A number of tweeters right now are noting that the Vatican press schedule for papal meetings today includes a meeting between Pope Francis and His Eminence. And isn't that an interesting thing to think about as this post-Epiphany day gets underway? Other commentary that may be of interest to you — in part, for the lively conversations it's eliciting:

1. At Religion News ServiceNational Catholic Reporter, and Crux, David Gibson summarizes Cardinal Burke's remarks to the New Emangelization Project. As he notes, here's one of His Eminence's bons mots in that interview:

In the interview, Burke also blamed gay clergy for the church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying priests "who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity" were the ones who molested children. 
Researchers have disputed that claim, and experts note that the reported rise in the number of gay men entering the priesthood since the 1980s coincided with a sharp drop-off in abuse cases.

His Eminence also states that "feminization" has wrecked the Catholic church, run altar boys away (since boys don't want to mix with girls) and therefore depleted the pool of manly vocations on which the manly church relies to carry on its manly priesthood, kept young men from marrying (therefore depleting the pool even more), since what manly man wants an assertive feminist woman telling him what to do? Etc.

2. At his Slacktivist site, Fred Clark points to a Wonkette article by Rebecca Schoenkoepf slamming His Eminence's remarks in no uncertain terms. 

3. At Salon, Jenny Kutner throws the following into the discussion hopper:

Burke also referred to the church’s approach to sexuality as "fluffy" and worried about young men engaging in a major sin — touching themselves. "Young men may begin to engage in the sexual sin of masturbation," Burke said. "Men have told me that when they were teenagers, they confessed the sin of masturbation in the confessional and priests would say, 'Oh, that’s nothing you should be confessing. Everybody does that.' That’s wrong."

4. Peter Isely of SNAP offers illuminating analysis of this story (with another interesting gallery of Burke photos) at his Facebook feed, noting,

Cardinal Raymond Burke, when Bishop of LaCrosse, allowed a higher percentage of priests to remain in ministry (over 2/3rds, an astronomical percentage) alleged to rape and sexually assault children than any other diocese in the United States (six times the national average according to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice). Burke was rewarded for his efforts through a promotion by Pope Benedict and elevation to the post of "chief justice" of the Vatican equivalent of the Supreme Court. He was demoted by the current Pope to a ceremonial post in Malta but continually returns to Wisconsin where he is raising money, lobbying allies, and mounting and organizing some kind of USA "Burke Unchained" tour.

5. Equally illuminating: Kaya Oakes's response at Religion News Service, which opens with these observations, 

In an online interview this week, Cardinal Raymond Burke said the "radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized."
But many women will head to Mass this weekend and note that the priest, bishop and pope have something in common: They are all men, and the power they hold in institutional church structures hardly looks like marginalization.

As I read Cardinal Burke's interview with the new emangelization folks and commentary about it, the words of Commonweal's editorial last November "Hearing Cardinal Burke: Let Him Speak, and Let the Debate Go On" continue to ring in my ears. As they argued that someone, including Cardinal Burke, needs to challenge "those who think it imperative that the church reconsider the status of the divorced and remarried as well as the nature of homosexuality," the editors of that venerable U.S. Catholic journal and arbiter of the American Catholic intellectual conversation wrote,

Let the cardinal be heard, and then let the debate continue.

Well, His Eminence is now being heard. I hope Commonweal's satisfied.

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