Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cardinal Burke Throws Down the Gauntlet: "I Shall Resist" (Is This Cordileone's Message, Too?)

The new insert added by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to the faculty handbook of employees of Catholic high schools in the San Francisco archdiocese: all administrators, faculty, and staff of these schools are to 

Affirm and believe that every person is called to chastity in accord with their present state of life, and that it is only in marriage between man and woman that the intimacy of sexual union can become a sign and pledge of spiritual communion (CCC 2337-2365). We accept the Church’s teaching that all extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations (emphasis in original).

Cardinal Raymond Burke last month to the New Emangelization Project:

Men are not going to Confession today because there has been a denial of Sin. There was a period after Vatican II where many were promoting the idea that there weren’t any serious sins. 
Of course, this is lethal for men, especially young men. Young men may begin to engage in the sexual sin of masturbation. 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.

It's rare these days to find top Catholic hierarchs (or pastors at the parish level, for that matter) trying to rehabilitate magisterial teaching which maintains that every act of masturbation is gravely evil sin. For a wide variety of reasons (perhaps summed up succinctly as wisdom?), Catholic moral theologians and Catholic pastors have tended, for quite some time now, to let the "sin" of masturbation slide.

And so isn't it interesting that first Burke and now Cordileone want to hit hard on that "sin" in public statements within weeks of each other? Cordileone is Burke's boy. Burke mentored him and is widely thought to have been responsible for his rapid rise up the ladder of ecclesiastical preferment. Burke was a principal co-consecrator when Cordileone was made archbishop in San Francisco.

Today, Burke appears on French television to say, regarding Pope Francis, "I shall resist." A report about his remarks is on the website of the schismatic group Society of St. Piux X (SSPX). Burke informs the journalists who conducted the interview,

I cannot accept that Communion can be given to a person in an irregular union because it is adultery. On the question of people of the same sex, this has nothing to do with marriage. This is an affliction suffered by some people whereby they are attracted against nature sexually to people of the same sex.

Asked by one of the television journalists what he will do if Pope Francis "persists in this direction," Burke replies, 

I shall resist, I can do nothing else. 

I haven't watched the televised interview at the top of the posting (I can't yet get it to play for me, and hope you'll have success doing so). I've only read the report linked above at the SSPX website and the summary of the interview at the Francetv website. It's not entirely clear to me what "persists in this direction" means — perhaps that Burke and others perceive Francis as entertaining the possibility that divorced and remarried people can receive communion? And that Francis is perceived as soft-selling the magisterial position on same-sex marriage? 

And yet Pope Francis publicly supported the failed referendum yesterday on marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples in Slovakia. He has hardly struck many people as a flaming liberal intent on revising magisterial teaching in any of these areas.

What's noteworthy to me is how Burke is throwing down the gauntlet to Francis about the very possibility that the pope might open freer discussion of official Catholic teaching about sexual morality — something that SSPX appears to recognize, or why otherwise would that group be featuring his "I shall resist" interview on its website?

And so it strikes me that Cordileone may well be doing something of the sort with his recent contract for employees of teachers in Catholic high schools in San Francisco. And that the bizarre echo of Burke in Cordileone's contract about how gravely evil masturbation is tells us that Cordileone, too, is saying, "I shall resist," if issues he and Burke want off the table — above all, the question of how the Catholic church should treat LGBT human beings, those poor "afflicted" people with their unnatural attractions, à la Cardinal Burke — are placed on the table by Francis.

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