Pope Francis drops Cardinal Raymond Burke from the Congregation for Bishops

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Nichols to the Congregation for Bishops and has dropped Cardinal Raymond Burke from the congregation.

The National Catholic Reporter reports:

Notably, Francis did not confirm Cardinal Raymond Burke, president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops. Generally seen as occupying a prominent place on the church’s conservative wing, Burke had been named to the Congregation for Bishops by Benedict XVI in 2009. The pope also did not confirm Cardinal Justin Rigali as a member, who stepped down as the archbishop of Philadelphia in 2011.

The other new members named by Francis Monday are:

  • Cardinal Francis Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico;
  • Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia;
  • Cardinal Kurt Koch of Switzerland, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;
  • Cardinal João Braz de Aviz of Brazil, prefect of the Congregation for Religious;
  • Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state;
  • Archbishop Benjamin Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy;
  • Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Synod for Bishops;
  • Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England;
  • Archbishop Paolo Rabitti of Italy, now retired as the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio;
  • Bishop Felix Genn of Münster, Germany.

Francis also confirmed 18 existing members of the congregation. Beyond Levada, the other prominent English-speaking member to be confirmed was Cardinal George Pell of Sydney.

The fact that Burke was not on the list may raise eyebrows, in part because some observers see him as representing a more aggressive line than the pope on the Western culture wars.

Burke recently gave an interview to the American Catholic broadcaster EWTN, for instance, in which he said Pope Francis’ comments suggesting that church teaching on matters such as abortion and gay marriage doesn’t need to be repeated “are not altogether easy to interpret” and said that in his view, “we can never talk enough” about the defense of human life.’

Readers of Protect the Pope, we must prayerfully reflect on the significance of the appointment of Archbishop Nichols to the Congregation for Bishops and the dropping of Cardinal Raymond Burke.



69 comments to Pope Francis drops Cardinal Raymond Burke from the Congregation for Bishops

  • “The other new members named by Francis Monday are:… Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England;”

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Or perhaps not. I think we can take it from this that Archbishop Nichols will be named in the forthcoming list of new cardinals, which will probably be released on Wednesday, January 8.

  • Sorry, I had intended to add, but was so overcome with emotion at the thought of “Cardinal” Nichols that I got carried away, that the inclusion of Archbishops Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and; Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, is confirmation enough that they will also be on the list of new cardinals.

  • ErnstThalmann

    Following on the his November 29th homily in which he claimed that Jesus only seems angry at the disciples at times in the Gospels, Frank the Hippee Pope now puts meat on his plan to emasculate the pro-life movement: He purges Cardinal Burke. He’s now publicly humiliated a critic. Burke must feel like Beria did when his colleagues on the Politboro arrested and executed him.

  • Genty

    Cardinal João Braz de Aviz – isn’t this the same man who set in motion the, er, changes to the FFI?

  • Bob Hayes

    On the other hand it may be that Pope Francis is considering integrating Archbishop Vincent into a less Italian curia – and taking the opportunity to reinvigorate the English and Welsh hierarchy which has so many vacant sees?

  • Nicholas Dyson

    Is this really surprising?

    • ErnstThalmann

      Purges usually concentrate more victims into a brief time period than we have in this instance, Nicholas. One might have expected three or four culture warriors to fall at the same, perhaps after their having been pictured as a cabal. Since this might even give the impression of a one-off, it is, in fact, a little surprising. And, of course, there were no public confession made before the Burke was taken away. :-)

  • Shaun the Sheep

    None of this is surprising. Let’s be careful not to fall into hatred and the risk of mortal sin. I’ve fallen into this trap myself many times since Francis was made Pope. I think God is saying to us: ‘You be my faithful friend.’ It’s a time for heroic response in us, striving for personal sanctity in this time of disorientation. The Church will not fail, even if reduced to a scattered but faithful remnant.

    • ErnstThalmann

      I don’t think we have to fall into a kind of lobotomized denial in order to avoid coming to grips with the obvious, Shaun. Many good people feel betrayed and confused and silence and a perverse acceptance will not lead us into a healthy future. Gripe when you get the opportunity, Shaun, you’ll feel better.

      • Deacon Nick Donnelly

        Ernst, I will not allow disrespectful comments about Pope Francis, who is the reigning successor of St Peter. To show such disrespect would not be Catholic, it would be the worst protestant self-assertion. I know that you will find these words hard, but you must remember that this site is called ‘Protect the Pope’, and I will protect Pope Francis from gratuitous insults. Deacon Nick.

        • ErnstThalmann

          I guess I’m out of here Nick. That way I’ll be spared your phoney lectures on clericalism.

          • Deacon Nick Donnelly

            Ernst, it’s not clericalism to insist that Catholics posting on this blog don’t insult or show disrespect to the Holy Father. We have every right to ask critical questions, but we do not have the right to ridicule or mock the pope. As a Catholic I’m surprised that you don’t understand this. Deacon Nick

        • Jacob

          As a Catholic, you should know how much damage is done when people follow the pope blindly even if he’s saying dumb things.

          Even St. Peter denied Christ thrice and tried to leave the Gentiles to Satan.. Should I also not love the Gentiles, since a pope once made that mistake?

  • Joseph Matthew

    Sad news indeed.But we must not despair.The Church survived the Borgias.

  • Peter 2

    So I guess the only remaining question is should I go SSPX or sedevacantist…

    • ErnstThalmann

      There is always the option of bring an end to all active participation in the life of the Church, that way you’re neither apostate nor schismatic. You’re just not active. One simply withdraws, accepting that you’re not wanted. That’s what I’m close to doing. And its not just Francis, although he’s the final straw, admittedly. Its the lack of fellowship and a number of other important concerns. I could go on and on, of course.

      • Conrad J. Noll

        Welcome to the club!

      • (X)MCCLXIII

        Oh, my family and I have not been wanted in my parish, or my diocese, for … Crikey! Almost as long as I can remember.

        • Deacon Nick Donnelly

          What you write makes me so sad, and is the experience of many faithful Catholics and their families in this country. We are treated with suspicion and hostility because we dare to joyfully uphold the Catholic faith in all its wonderful fullness. (X)MCCLXIII and all faithful Catholics, be certain that Our Lord and His Blessed Mother want you and your families make up the treasure of Our Lady’s Dowry. Deacon Nick.

          • (X)MCCLXIII


            The worst of it is this: I don’t think I have any particular talent to offer the Church, at least not given my current state in life, but Mrs (X)MCCLXIII has plenty. Not welcome, though.

          • Deacon Nick Donnelly

            Don’t worry, compared to the enormity of the challenge ahead of us none of us have talent enough to tackle it. We only need to bring the grace of faith that we have been blessed with by Our Lord, and the humility needed to be obedient to His teaching and His will. Deacon Nick

        • Lynda

          Yes, this is sadly very common. How the faithful are hated by the “liberals” who control most dioceses and parishes. We need to form associations to support each other, particularly those who are being actively persecuted, by powerful heretics and apostates within, or by secular forces, with silence, or even tacit collusion by those “within”.

          • Deacon Nick Donnelly

            According to Prof.Lynda Woodhead and The Tablet there are 200,000 Catholics who remain faithful to the Deposit of Faith and the Rule of Faith in England and Wales. The 200,000 need to get together to celebrate the Faith that has been handed on to us from the Apostles. Deacon Nick

          • Lynda

            Perhaps an affiliate organisation to the CCC for faithful clergy?

    • Mark Stein

      Both are schismatic so there’s not much in it! I however shall stay in communion with Peter.

      • (X)MCCLXIII

        To cleave to Peter, even in these trying times, is something demanded of each of us. That much in your post is admirable. But as for the assertion that the SSPX is schismatic … That much is far from admirable.

      • Br’er Rabbit pleads, “but do please, Br’er Fox, don’t fling me in dat brier-patch,”


        Brer bishops
        Brer priests
        And brer people of god
        Celebrate, collaborate
        To sacrifice just seems odd.

        Brer mother of ten cried,
        “I assist tried and trued.”
        Brer people of god cried,
        “Chill out
        Take a lude.”

        Brer priest said,
        “Ms. Brer come on smile
        Serve with me
        The True Faith, let that pass,
        Make a mess – harmony!”

        With these words
        Brer mother got sick
        And threw up
        So brer priest urged her, “Go
        If you can’t drink our cup.”

        “So you’re urgin’ I go?”
        And her head she did scratch,
        “Jus’ please don’t throw me
        In no Pius the
        Tenth Patch!!”

        But brer priest
        Flung brer mother
        Out the door shut the latch
        And forced her to land
        In a Pius the Tenth Patch.

        So celebration, collaboration
        Is given the nod
        By brer bishops
        Brer priests
        And brer people of god

        But high on a hill
        Brer mother of ten
        Is singin’ and kickin’
        Her heels
        Up again…

        “I was born and raised
        In a Pius the Tenth Patch
        Known as Catholic Church
        And there still ain’t
        No match!!!”

  • Shaun the Sheep

    Let the wicked still act wickedly, and the filthy still be filthy. The righteous must still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

    “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.

    I am the Alpha and the Omega,g the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

    Rev. 22

  • ms Catholic state

    We must simply carry on simply spreading the Faith….knowing that all Papacies come to an end sooner or later. And Im sure Pope Francis’ pontificate isn’t going to be all bad. He seems like he has a plan. And let’s face it….nothing has worked so far this century. Let’s hope he knows what he is doing.

  • lola

    Following the cancellation of his participation at a Pro Ecclesia event, I do not despair with the exclusion of Cardinal R Burke. For one who would not dare offend E&W Bishops, he was quite quick to comment on the Holy Father.

  • Bridget

    I must say I did think at the time that Cardinal Burke’s remarks about the pope were a little bit out of order. I agree that Pope Francis is giving mixed messages, but he probably needs a little more time to settle and surely cardinals need to display obedience, unless, of course, the pope goes completely over the top.


    I had a check up today at the dentists’. I had the opportunity to read Time’s “person of the year” piece.

    Didn’t like it.

  • kfca

    @Deacon: you write,”we must prayerfully reflect on the significance of the appointment of Archbishop Nichols to the Congregation for Bishops and the dropping of Cardinal Raymond Burke”.

    From my position, and that of many others, this decision seems to be entirely in keeping with the direction of this papacy to date.

    May I remind you:
    Austin Ivereigh, former Director of Public Affairs to +Cormac, to documentary-maker in Rome following the election of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, in answer to a question on why he was elected: “We didn’t have time to get ourselves organised”

    Pope Francis (reportedly) to +Cormac after his election: “This is all your fault”

    I think we plebs just have to keep joining the dots…

    The Holy Father, in his wisdom, is continuing with his policy of sending the saints off into the shadows: I’m sure he will have a reason for this.

    And +Cormac, our dear gentle doyen of the Church’s intellectual elite (!), who like his namesake did indeed go ‘further than anyone thought possible’, will have his audience with His Majesty, perhaps sooner than he thinks. And I hope it is not to his regret that I am not speaking of Elizabeth R.

    I do sincerely pray that it ends well.

  • Anthony Murphy

    @Bridget – I am not sure how Cardinal Burke’s remarks could be construed as a display of disobedience, what did he say that was either critical of the Bishop of Rome or disobedient to him? I think if you take a look at the interview, which was given to the faithful EWTN network, then you will discover that His Eminence was only trying to explain what the Bishop of Rome intended rather than the way in which the mainstream media had attempted to distort his comments. The latest interview of Pope Francis seems to be in accord with the comments of the cardinal so I doubt very much that on matters of doctrine there is any disagreement. Indeed the comments just above your own, made by Lola, indicate the seriousness with which His Eminence takes his vows of obedience as he left the event referred to because the speaker began to be critical of the Holy Father. I would also contend that the Holy Father does not need more time to settle, he comes to the office with much experience gained from a variety of senior positions, by all accounts he was the runner up in the conclave which elected Pope Benedict and as such he can hardly be viewed as a novice. As Deacon Nick suggests we must discern and pray and pray especially for the Holy Father that he be surrounded by faithful and orthodox advisers.

    • Eileen Smith

      We are called to be obedient to The Catholic Church, The Spotless Bride. We are NOT called to be obedient to committees. We are NOT bound to obedience to heresies. In fact, we are bound to obedience to the infallible teachings. Very little that has happened in this papacy squares with catholic teaching, particularly catholic teaching which says, “Confusion is not of God.” I for one will not blindly stagger down the blind alley of “obedience” to chaos, confusion, obfuscation and nonsense.

  • Leo Alba

    I also have withdrawn from ecclesial life. It is simply too trying and I have found that those whose duty it is to help nourish my faith in fact undermine it by making me feel that all within is hopeless. Pope Francis I am afraid has simply been final straw. His approach will not bring people back into the fold I don’t think and if it does, it will be those who want to mold the Church to the world not vice versa. Now that ++Nichols is going to the congregation of bishops I shudder to think what the quality of men appointed to the episcopacy here in the UK is going to be like, especially when I think of how unsupportive he was of the Maryvale Institute and how supportive he is of Heythrop College. That to my mind says all I need to know about him and the direction he would like the English Church to go in. This whole situation is, to my mind, all very desperate and sad.

    • Andrzej

      Don’t withdraw, don’t make Satan chuckle

      • Patrick

        I agree. I strongly endorse Deacon Nick’s 8:35 pm comment – we need to stick together. We are getting confused signals from Rome – reassuring (eg the endorsement of the hermeneutic of continuity as opposed to rupture interpretation of Vatican II) as well as sad (sloppy liturgy, unfair treatment of the FFI) and worrying (appointments) signs. If Pope Francis manages to clean up the Roman bureacracy, that will certainly be a positive outcome of his Pontificate.

        But it will not be a return to the 1970s. We are much stronger now. Especially with the Internet and new social media, the neo-modernists can no longer conspire in secret. We have the most wonderful gift from Pope Benedict of the Motu Proprio – work to reform the liturgy MUST continue, even if it is not the priority of the present Holy Father.

        Above all, we must pray and sacrifice.

    • Minimum

      The Maryvale Institute, I regret to say, is no longer that shining beacon of Catholic orthodoxy it once was. All it took was a couple of months. I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial barge-pole now, and I speak as one of its most fervent supporters, until very recently.

    • ms Catholic state

      I generally by pass the official church and my local bishops. I don’t even contribute to the plate now……just to the priests at Christmas and Easter. But I still look to the Pope.

  • Paul Commins

    Anne Roche wrote in The Gates of Hell,that she considered leaving the Church,but was advised by another parishioner to not let them drive her out.This was the late 1960′s in Canada. Things have changed,but the advice is still good.
    Chapter 11 Page 232 Gates of Hell

  • Lionel (Paris)

    Qui vivra verra!… Mais cette nouvelle m’attriste.

    • Lionel (Paris)

      Please listen to this! it might help you to deal with these disturbing events: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcs6WPjZi0k
      Nothing has changed in fifty years! I feel that the situation goes from bad to worse!…
      I begin to wonder if the lightning which struck the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, was not simply an evil omen?
      The “show humility” and “selective charity and dialogue” leave me perplexed, those are total perversion!; I do not recognize the principles that were instilled in me in my youth…
      I am terribly bitter:
      “November 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm
      For more than half a century, the Church Authorities have acted without regard for the sensibility of the faithful who were rightly scandalized and mostly deserted churches, whilst the others most assiduous were precipitated into schism… Now, such authorities are undoubtedly responsible for this situation and will have to be accountable.
      It is sad to see, but after such conduct, the credibility of the Magisterium has been durably undermined and this could lead us to doubt the reliability and even the existence of papal infallibility… It would be very serious, possibly even worse than the antics and tribulations of the past!…
      How can we trust personages who have deceived us for so long?”

  • Wake Up England

    Remember everyone:

    In order to Hope for Heaven we must keep the 10 commandments and the Commandments of the Church; and we must worship God by Faith, by Hope and by Charity.

    We might not “like” the changes we are going through, but we must not despair.

    We are all bound to hear Mass each Sunday and on other binding holydays and to receive the Sacraments at least once a year (at Eastertime) and we can’t fulfil these obligations without our Holy Mother the Church.

    We must, each of us, work out our own Salvation Here and Now with the Church as she now is.

    DON’T give up, however difficult things become.

  • Pray! Things could be worse. And, lo, I prayed. And things just got worse! I quote: “Agreement has been reached between the Diocese of Westminster and the Neocatechumenal Way formally to establish the Redemptoris Mater House as a House of Formation within the structure of Allen Hall.”

  • The soon-to-be Cardinal Nichols, with his dodgy theology and tenuous grasp of both Church discipline and Church dogma, has responsibilities in relation to the training of priests at Allen Hall. Now he has endorsed an organisation which is similarly troublesome to train aspiring priests. Does the Catholic Church in England and Wales need this?

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Hugh, members of The Neocatechumenal Way that I know as friends and colleagues are among the most faithful, theologically sound, and joyous Catholics that I know, and I rejoice for the Church in this country that they have their own seminary. I find much in The Neocatechumenal Way that is attractive and appeals to me personally. A fundamental principle of the life of the Catholic Church is that it is a unity in diversity. Just so long as these diverse groups and movements of the Church are faithful to the doctrine of faith set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church we should welcome them. Deacon Nick

      • Eileen Smith

        Somewhat like the “new” evangelization, the label “NEO” catechumenal way should raise eyebrows. Do the Lord Jesus Christ’s own words really need “refreshing”? “updating”? Isn’t there something terribly stale, moldy and rotten in the viewpoint that we need to drag the sacred down into the slime of modern culture? Isn’t our task instead to draw modern culture higher, into the sacred? The entire “new” this and “new” that is inverted. Face it, folks, the faith is 2000 years old. Does that bother you? It doesn’t bother me. There is nothing new about evangelization and nothing NEO about catechumens, except that in the “neo” world, the ancient,laudable and venerable customs of the catechumens, particularly with regards to the liturgy, have been utterly trampled beneath the feet of “new”.

  • Fr. Joseph

    I was absolutely shocked to see this news.Bishop Burke has been the strong voice of reason in the Vatican and has continued the great leadership of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.It looks as if Pope Francis is purging the Vatican of all the reasonable conservative leadership in favor of the less orthodox in their teaching. This is a very sad day for the Church but the Church has withstood worse attacks from within. It reminds us of how much the Church needs our prayers and now more than ever. The Church will endure as Christ promised. Come Lord Jesus. God bless!

    In Christ
    Fr. Joseph

  • Kathleen

    It is not my wish to disrespect Pop Francis with disrespectful words, but I am extremely disappointed with most of his public interviews. I am deeply saddened that he has taken Cardinal Burke off the selection commitee for Bishops. I feel that he has fallen prey to liberal progressive that has invaded the Holy Mother Church.

    • Lionel (Paris)

      You are more delicate than I am! however, we are on the same wavelength.
      I recognize that I should be more respectful…
      Union de prière LD

  • Karla

    Cardinal Burke is still prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

  • Clare A

    I’m starting to become really worried. Clearly, the Pope is listening to CMOC not Mennini. I fear that we’ll be turned back to the time of Paul VI. Am dazed and confused and fearful. How can I see God’s will in all this?

  • I’m a big fan of Cardinal Burke. He is plain spoken and a true son of the Church.
    God can effect change through Cardinal Burke in ways some folk (more interested in politicking) in the Vatican cannot possibly imagine.
    He’s relatively young at 65 years of age. May God grant him many years!

  • Eileen Smith

    Now we have Wuerl and not Burke. It’s sure difficult to get rid of the old queers in this hierarchy. What a sad exchange.

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