3546Pope Replaces Conservative U.S. Cardinal on Influential Vatican Committee - NYTimes.com
- Dec 16, 2013http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/pope-replaces-conservative-us-cardinal-on-influential-vatican-committee.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes
Pope Replaces Conservative U.S. Cardinal on Influential Vatican Committee
ROME — Pope Francis moved on Monday against a conservative American cardinal who has been an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage, by replacing him on a powerful Vatican committee with another American who is less identified with the culture wars within the Roman Catholic Church.
The pope’s decision to remove Cardinal Raymond L. Burke from the Congregation for Bishops was taken by church experts to be a signal that Francis is willing to disrupt the Vatican establishment in order to be more inclusive.
Even so, many saw the move less as an effort to change doctrine on specific social issues than an attempt to bring a stylistic and pastoral consistency to the church’s leadership.
“He is saying that you don’t need to be a conservative to become a bishop,” said Alberto Melloni, the director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, Italy, a liberal Catholic research institute. “He wants good bishops, regardless of how conservative or liberal they are.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke
Riccardo De Luca / Associated Press
Cardinal Burke, who came to the Vatican in 2008 after serving as archbishop of St. Louis, is a favorite of many conservative Catholics in the United States for his upholding of church rites and traditions favored by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Burke’s preference for the long train of billowing red silk known as cappa magna, and other such vestments, has, however, made him seem out step with Francis, who has made it clear through example that he prefers more humble attire.
Last week, Cardinal Burke also seemed to create more substantive daylight between himself and the pope, giving an interview in which he raised concerns about comments by Francis that the church should reduce the focus on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman,” Cardinal Burke said of the pope in an interview with EWTN, a Catholic broadcaster. “But we can never talk enough about that.”
Since his election as pope in March, Francis has received glowing news media coverage and widespread adulation from the faithful for putting a kinder, more inclusive face on a global institution that had been widely perceived as out of touch. He has expressed an intention to reorganize and overhaul the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that governs the church.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington was named by Pope Francis to the Vatican committee that selects new bishops.
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Cardinal Burke still serves as the prefect of the Vatican’s highest canonical court, but analysts say his removal from the Congregation for Bishops will sharply reduce his influence, especially over personnel changes in American churches.
“The Congregation for Bishops is the most important congregation in the Vatican,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and the author of “Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.”
“It decides who are going to be the bishops all over the world,” he added. “This is what has the most direct impact on the life of the local church.”
To replace Cardinal Burke, Francis chose Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, an ideological moderate with a deep knowledge of the Vatican but also with pastoral experience. Father Reese noted that Cardinal Burke had been a leader of American bishops arguing that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving communion, while Cardinal Wuerl had taken an opposite tack.
“That certainly is in line with the pope, who has said that communion is not a reward for being good,” Father Reese said. “It is a sacrament of healing to help people.”
The pope also removed Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, from the Congregation for Bishops. From his committee post, Cardinal Rigali has long been a crucial player in shaping the American hierarchy. He stepped down as archbishop of Philadelphia amid a scandal over his handling of priest abuse cases there.
And Francis reconfirmed the congregational posting for Cardinal William J. Levada, a former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Like Cardinal Wuerl, Cardinal Levada is considered a moderate.
Some recent appointments have disheartened liberals within the church, particularly the pope’s choice in October to approve the Rev. Leonard Blair as the archbishop of Hartford. He was central in a doctrinal investigation that reprimanded a group of American nuns who were deemed to have drifted from church teaching.
Many church observers saw the hand of Cardinal Burke in that selection, as they did in the appointment of Salvatore J. Cordileone, an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, as archbishop of San Francisco.
In an interview in Washington last week, Cardinal Wuerl suggested that the pope was altering the way the bishops’ congregation functioned. For example, Francis is already surveying a broader range of bishops than those in the congregation, the cardinal said.
“When it comes to future bishops, he is asking a number of sources,” he said.
Asked whether all of the pope’s changes mattered if Cardinal Burke still had such influence in appointing bishops, Cardinal Wuerl smiled.
“Don’t we have to give this pope time?” he said.
Jim Yardley reported from Rome, and Jason Horowitz from Washington. Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting from Rome, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.
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