by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Cardinal Burke has for years enjoyed great fame and prestige among Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass and want the faith defended. But there has been growing concerns that Cardinal Burke, besides lamenting the problems, won’t actually do anything to defend the Church. He recently outraged hundreds of thousands of Catholics last fall by calling all those Catholics who doubt that Bergoglio is the pope “extremists”.
So, I think Catholics need to ask themselves, why does Burke insist so much that Bergoglio is the pope. Perhaps we will never know, but here are some facts which might help you discern why.
Cardinal Burke’s pastoral record includes not a few things which many of the Catholics who admire him would also consider extreme and not-Catholic. Since a number of Catholic organizations have entered into an alliance to never tell the faithful about such things, FromRome.Info considers itself obliged to set the record straight. This is especially necessary since there are so many voices which have called for Burke to be the next pope.
“Sister Julie” Green
I will simply quote from published articles. Here is one by Malcom Gay of the Riverfront Times, writing on August 25, 2004, in an article entitled, Bishop takes Queen:
At times his theological allegiance with these orders placed Bishop Burke in some compromising positions. Most striking, perhaps, was the case of Sister Julie Green, a member of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus:
“Julie Green is living a lie!” writes Mary Therese Helmueller in an October 25, 2002, letter to Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Papal Nuncio to the United States. “[She] is a transsexual, a biological male. He is really Joel Green, who had a sex operation to make him physically appear as a woman…. I fear that The Church in America will suffer another ‘sex scandal’ if Julie Green continues to be recognized as a Catholic Religious Sister, and if Bishop Raymond L. Burke receives his final vows, as a religious sister, on November 23rd, 2002.”
Montalvo forwarded the letter to Burke, who on November 20, 2002, replied to Helmueller. “With regard to Sister Julie Green, F.S.J., the recognition of the association of the faithful which she and Sister Anne LeBlanc founded was granted only after consultation with the Holy See,” he writes. “These are matters which are confidential and do not admit of any further comment…. I can assure you that Sister Julie Green in no way espouses a sex change operation as right or good. In fact, she holds it to be seriously disordered. Therefore, I caution you very much about the rash judgments which you made in your letter to the Apostolic Nuncio.”
Adds Burke: “I express my surprise that, when you had questions about Sister Julie Green, you did not, in accord with the teaching of our Lord, address the matter to me directly.”
Notice how Burke, not only calls a man, a “Sister”, but gives him permission to live with a woman in a community of woman’s religious, which ostensibly takes the vow of chastity. He even scolds the laywoman who denounced the scandal to the Apostolic Nuncio! I will not even mention the grave offense to the Divine Majesty to allow such a man to take vows as a woman religious, vows which by the very fact that he is a man will be asking God to stand as a witness to a lie.
Saint Stanislaus Parish, St. Louis, MO, USA
Four years later, Tim O’Neil, writing for the St. Louis Dispatch, in an article entitled, St. Stan Pastor Refuses to Meet with Burke, says:
The public dispute with St. Stanislaus began in 2004, when Burke instructed the parish to rearrange its assets and the powers of its lay board to conform with the systems used by all other Catholic parishes within the archdiocese. St. Stanislaus had maintained internal controls that dated to its founding by Polish immigrants in the 19th century.
St. Stanislaus’ lay leaders refused. After Burke removed priests from St. Stanislaus, Bozek came to the parish from his assignment in Springfield, Mo. Burke quickly declared him excommunicated. Soon afterward, he declared the parish board members excommunicated and stripped the parish of its standing as a Roman Catholic Church.
In other words, an entire parish of Polish ethnicity, who had built and managed at their own expense, their Parish, for more than a century, were excommunicated by Burke for refusing to give him control of the assets of the private institution!
That is the thanks you get for being faithful and paying your own way! — And as a matter of fact, 10s of thousands of Churches throughout Europe were built and maintained in the same way. This is part of Catholic tradition. It is also a solemn right of the faithful.
And the diocesan priest who was so disgusted at Burke’s attempted thievery and braved the dispute by serving the faithful of the parish, was also excommunicated!
The issue here is of the Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not steal. If the Cardinal excommunicated them solely for their failure to uphold the Catholic Faith, why did he not and does he not now excommunicate prelates for their failure? When there is a question of money, Burke acts. There is no other way to look at this. The Catholic Bishops Conference has funded the same kind of organizations for 60 years as this parish is reported to have done, but Burke never separated himself from the Conference or used his episcopal authority to condemn them. I agree that heretics should be penalized, and I agree that private chapels should be Catholic if they want to be places of worship approved by the Church. But there is absolutely no right in civil or ecclesiastical law whereby the Cardinal can tell a private chapel what to do with its funds and assets.
So many Bishops have priests who support, promote and fund non-Catholic agendas, but because they keep the money flowing to the Chancery, they are never condemned. Touch the purse however and boom!
What the parish became after their excommunication has nothing to do with the matter, other than raising questions if Burke’s excommunication helped their souls or harmed them by the scandal it gave to them and the wider community. Also, what about the faithful Catholics who did attend the parish and whose ancestors built it? Now they have neither the Sacraments nor their parish. And I would guess there are a lot more of them than the members of the board of directors of the parish.
This was a pastoral tragedy, and the responsibility for that is always with the shepherd.
And as a Franciscan, I would remind everyone, that Christian Faith is about saving souls, not saving money.
Burke’s Record on Pedophilia
I quote from Malcom Gay, the Riverfront Times, August 24, 2004:
Burke, it seemed, had tended his garden nicely in La Crosse and was well poised to minister to the fallout of the scandal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Whereas his predecessor, Justin Rigali, had drawn fire for ignoring victims of abuse, the incoming archbishop was tidily insulated from the problem. So much so, in fact, that when St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris asked him to name the most pressing issue facing the Catholic Church here, Burke replied, “How to organize our parishes and our Catholic schools.”
But some members of Raymond Burke’s former flock paint a far different portrait of the erstwhile bishop of La Crosse. If cases of clergy sex abuse were few and far between, they say, it was because Burke was a master at keeping a lid on them. Several victims who claim they were abused by priests in La Crosse tell Riverfront Times they were stonewalled by Burke, who declined to report their allegations to local authorities. And while some of his fellow church officials nationwide were reaching hefty settlements with victims, Raymond Burke was unyielding in his refusal to negotiate with victims’ rights groups. He declined to make public the names of priests who were known to have been abusive, and he denied requests to set up a victims’ fund. Most strikingly, Riverfront Times has learned, while bishop in La Crosse Burke allowed at least three priests to remain clerics in good standing long after allegations of their sexual misconduct had been proven — to the church, to the courts and, finally, to Burke himself.
His critics say Burke’s ability to conceal the diocese’s dirty laundry was abetted by Wisconsin’s unique civil code, which makes it virtually impossible for someone to sue the church for the actions of an individual priest.
“He stands with his fellow bishops in Wisconsin as having had the ability to just rebuke and ignore our victims,” says Jeff Anderson, an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota, who specializes in clergy abuse cases. “He has a long history of making pastoral statements that they care, that they want to heal, that they want to help. They are very long on words, but very short on actions.”
“We don’t exist, for him,” seconds Peter Isely, a Wisconsin leader of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “Loyalty to the church is of the highest order for him, and his response to victims’ claims has been lethargic and slow and reluctant and bureaucratic and impersonal.”
Then again, if success is measured in money saved and avoidance of scandal, Raymond Burke possesses a sterling record. At a time when dioceses are reaching million-dollar settlements with individual victims and filing for bankruptcy, Burke reported in January 2004 that between 1950 and 2002 the Diocese of La Crosse paid out a grand total of $15,807.38 to victims seeking counseling for clergy sexual abuse.
It was in May of 1971 that B.V. first met the man she says sexually abused her. She was nine years old, and her family had traveled 45 minutes to the small town of Hewitt, Wisconsin, to attend a relative’s wedding. While at the wedding, her parents befriended Father Raymond Bornbach, pastor of St. Michael’s Parish. (At their request, victims in this article are not identified by name.) “After that wedding he called my mom and asked to spend some special time with my sister and I,” B.V. writes in a handwritten statement delivered to diocesan officials on September 22, 2003.
Her mother agreed, and soon Bornbach was traveling far outside his parish to pick up the girls and take them for drives along central Wisconsin’s rural two-lane roads.
B.V. alleges that during the drives Bornbach would pull over at outdoor rest stops and ask her eight-year-old sister to get out of the car. “She would sit nearby on a rock, while in the car he would have me sit next to him[;] he would rub his hands up and down my thighs,” B.V. writes. “He would always kiss me on the lips and he smelled of cigar breath. He would stick his tongue in my mouth.”
According to the statement, a copy of which B.V. supplied to Riverfront Times, the abuse continued for more than a year, becoming progressively more intense. Eventually, B.V. alleges, Bornbach brought her to his house, took her upstairs to his bedroom and offered her a rosary before molesting her. “[He] asked to see the scar on my left arm and side where I had been burned as a child,” she writes. “He removed my dress and rub [sic] my chest and laid me on the bed, he then laid on top of me and started to hump up and down and rub his body on mine.”
Bornbach didn’t go any further, B.V. states. He was interrupted by his housekeeper. When the bedroom door opened, she writes, “he jumped up and told her we would be right down.”
Afterward, B.V. recalls in her statement, Bornbach took her to a local hardware store and bought her a bike. “[It was] my 1st ever bike,” she writes. “It was purple.”
The statement was penned nine months after B.V. came forward with her allegations in a January 6, 2003, letter to then-Bishop Burke. “They told Bornbach to get an attorney and not to talk to anyone,” B.V. says during an interview in her central Wisconsin home. “So when I called, I asked if I was supposed to get an attorney, too. They proceeded to tell me that if I got an attorney, all communication with them would cease.”
It was the beginning of what became for her a painful eighteen-month saga. “I was really naive in thinking that once they received this letter they would right away do something with this guy,” B.V. says today. “Bishop Burke protects his own.”
Initially B.V. wanted four things from the diocese: She wanted Bornbach stripped of his collar. She wanted his name released to the public. She wanted to meet her alleged abuser face to face and she wanted to meet with Raymond Burke.
“From day one I asked to speak with the bishop. Almost every time I talked to these people I asked how come I wasn’t talking to the bishop,” B.V. says. “How come something wasn’t being done?” Instead of meeting with B.V., the bishop appointed a liaison to meet with the alleged victim. When B.V. asked if her therapist could attend the liaison’s initial fact-finding interview, Burke agreed, though it went against a policy on child sexual abuse he’d set out in 2002. He stipulated two conditions, however, in a letter dated May 6, 2003. “The interview will be confidential. Therefore, no recordings or notes may be made or taken,” he writes. The second stipulation: “You agree that the interview is part of an internal Church process which may not be disclosed, compelled to be disclosed, or used as evidence in or as a basis for any non-Church action.”
B.V. balked. She wasn’t ready to tell her story to a stranger, and she canceled the meeting. “You have to be ready,” she says. “Some days you don’t want to talk about it, other days you do.”
But the diocese wasn’t waiting around. Unbeknownst to B.V., Burke had passed the matter off to the Diocese of La Crosse Child Sexual Abuse Review Board, a six-member group of church and lay officials — including the diocesan attorney — whose duty it is to review allegations of clergy sexual abuse. So B.V. was surprised to receive a letter from the board on August 28, 2003, warning, “If we do not hear from you by Monday, September 15, 2003, we will assume you do not wish pursue to [sic] the matter and the case will be closed.”
“I called them immediately,” she says. “[I] told them, ‘You can close the case, but it will never be closed for me.'” At age 89, Father Raymond Bornbach now lives in a humble single-story home in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Diabetes and a recent operation to replace his aortic valve have restricted his movements. Nonetheless, he continues to put on his Roman collar and visit patients at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital. During a recent interview, he confirmed that he still draws a pension from the church. He also is still listed in the Official Catholic Directory as a retired priest in good standing. He denies ever engaging in any sexual misconduct and describes his relationship with B.V. as “best friends.”
(When asked by the sexual review board about the abortive assault at the priest’s home, Bornbach’s housekeeper, with whom he still lives, also denied the incident occurred.) It took years of therapy before B.V. finally mustered the strength to bring her allegations to the bishop of La Crosse. What she did not know, however, was that she was not the first to contact Burke regarding Raymond Bornbach.
In a letter dated March 26, 2001, another alleged victim of clergy abuse contacted by Riverfront Times wrote to Burke, stating: “I know I have talked to you about Fr. Raymond Bornbach before, and I thought when you retired him it would take care of the problem of his dirty little hands and his filthy mouth… But it has not since he still goes to the St. Joseph [sic] Hospital in Marshfield, and visits sick people,” the letter reads. “He still goes on the psych unit and tells women there that ‘Jesus loves them and he does too.’ When he was visiting [illegible] there he not only told her that but he was also touching her breasts and putting his tongue in her mouth… I know what he did to her because she told me right after it happened.”
(The letter writer, who supplied Riverfront Times with a copy of the correspondence, blacked out the name of the alleged victim at St. Joseph’s.) The letter writer goes on to detail other instances of alleged abuse by Bornbach, before concluding: “Bornbach even wearing the collar is such a disgrace to all good priests. I’m surprised the other priests don’t strip Bornbach of his collar.”
As with all allegations of clergy abuse, Burke declines to discuss specifics. “Whenever an accusation is brought, no matter what the status of the priest was, it was thoroughly investigated,” he says. “The priest was confronted, and it was thoroughly investigated: That’s my policy.”
The diocese may well have investigated Bornbach, but any such records are strictly shielded from public view. Nonetheless, at least one other alleged victim cited in the letter says she was never contacted by investigators in relation to Raymond Bornbach.
As the months dragged on, B.V. became increasingly frustrated with Burke’s inaction. “It was pointless to talk to the diocese,” she says. “I called one of [the members of the Child Sexual Abuse Review Board] and said: ‘I want a meeting.'” It was not until B.V. contacted the review board that she was finally afforded an interview with Bishop Burke, on January 10 — a full year after she’d stepped forward. Her husband went with her.
B.V. says that during the meeting Burke promised he’d make a decision about the Bornbach matter by the time he left for St. Louis. “We said, ‘You leave on January 24th, that’s all over the newspapers. We know when you leave. Are you going to be able to make a decision in four days?’ He said, ‘Yes, I will definitely call you and let you know what we’ve decided,'” B.V. recalls. “Of course, January 24th came and went with no word from Burke.”
Last week B.V. received a letter from the diocese informing her that the Child Sexual Abuse Review Board had substantiated her claim and that appropriate action would be taken.
“We recommended that action be taken against Father Bornbach,” says one board member, who spoke on condition that his name not appear in print. “[Although] at his age we were told laicization would probably not take place, but it would be recommended that he no longer act or appear with a Roman collar as a Roman Catholic priest.”
B.V. credits the board for investigating her claim and believes that had she not contacted its members, nothing would have happened. “This man is a rock,” she says of Burke. “He is not moving. He knows his laws, and he knows he’s protected. The law protects the church. They don’t have to do anything about these people. Nothing. And this bishop knows that.”
Perhaps you can understand now, why Cardinal Burke thinks that Catholics who doubt Bergoglio, the undisputed Grand Don of the Lavender Maria, is the pope, even after the ritual of satanic worship in the Vatican Gardens, are extremists.
And perhaps you are now better informed about whom you should hope and hope not to be the next pope.
POSTSCRIPT of April 12
Following the publication of the article above, its author was vilified and calumniated by those who claim to be the friends of the Cardinal. But none of them, as of Easter Sunday, has attempted in the least a refutation of the reports cited.
The crimes and sins of child rape, transgenderism, mutilation, sacrilege and theft are inexcusable. If your “devotion” to Cardinal Burke tempts you to excuse such things, I think you need to read the entry in the dictionary called, “idolatry”. A lot of idolaters hate me for what I write, and I thank God for it. But here I simply reported the news and commented on it. I did not perpetrate anything in those reports. Those perps are the real ones that should be vilified. If you cannot see that, I think you need to re-read the Gospels. If your first reaction is to attack the reporters and not commiserate with the victims, then I think you are very sick spiritually and are unwittingly aiding and abetting a culture of the worst kind of clericalism in the Church.
The mature and objective way to respond to the above article is to do your research. The blogger who objects to the article above came commenting in the comboxes with insults not proofs of anything, even though he claims to be an expert on ONE of the charges mentioned above. That simply does not make sense. He has to realize that he is by those actions implicitly condoning the other TWO accusations. I think he should be transparent about any conflicts of interest he may have with any of the actors cited above. And I think he needs to publicly affirm whether he thinks child rape, transgenderism, sacrilege of putting a man in a woman’s habit and letting him take vows as a female religious, etc. etc. are sins. Indeed, the supporters of Burke, like him, repeatedly make some very bizarre comments about this man who mutilated himself and donned a woman’s habit, claiming that the Cardinal was trying to help him with his same sex attractions! But they never deny he was born a man nor that he mutilated himself, nor that Burke publicly accepted his vows aas a female religious or calls him a woman! So the onus is on him now. His manner of reacting to this article is very telling. And still he has refuted nothing in it.
The article above was published 3 days ago. I would think that after 15 years, there would be at least 1 article refuting each false charge, if any were false. Do a google search if you like, and if you find any such articles by reporters, cite their links below in a comment. I have more than graciously allowed a link to the blogger who objects to the above, though its sole purpose was to insult me and attack my public credibility and reputation. An insult and attack which was not preceded by any attempt to communicate with me, publicly or privately.
Finally, the claim by this blogger that these charges have “long ago been refuted” is simply not credible. I am not the first to recite these reports. See here about the Male nun:
From January 2003:
https://akacatholic.com/the-correction-may-never-come-but-judgment-will/ See the comment section.
Long ago refuted? Hmm.
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