by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
In recent weeks there has been a barrage of attacks on Cardinal Burke, blaming him for the problems in the Church.
The utter insanity of such a rational is absurd on its face. But that was the substance of the attack by Ann Barnhardt on Nov. 27, 2023, just before Pope Francis issued ‘Fiducia supplicans’. And just after Pope Francis called the Cardinal “my Enemy”. — One really wonders why Barnhardt attacked the Cardinal as soon as Pope Francis called for an attack?
Then there was the recent attack from an anonymous source, who claims to have met personally with Pope Francis, which attack was published by Catholic Monitor — a blog run by a laymen out of Oklahoma who has 0 qualifications to comment on Church affairs and who is otherwise unknown to the world. That attack was published here. Recently Catholic Monitor has called on Cardinal Burke to convene an imperfect Council — i. .e. one which has no canonical status — to depose Pope Francis: a thing which no Cardinal has the authority to do, and such a council as would have no authority to act. A glorious misfire.
But what I really wonder about the Borgata post over at Catholic Monitor is how a layman in Oklahoma is so well known by someone in Rome, who has access to Pope Francis? That seems indeed strange, since many in Rome — where I have lived for 4 years — have no such contacts. And why would anyone in the Roman Curia trust an anonymous blogger in Oklahoma to get his message out? — I am assuming for charity sake that the letter is not a forgery.
Then there is Mark Docherty, a Catholic businessman who is so loyal to Barnhardt, that you could almost call him her side-kick or foil. He posted a comment in reply to Cardinal Burke’s solicitation for information at his personal website, which is a lot more respectful than Ann Barnhardt’s, but asks him to investigate the election of Pope Francis in 2013. We only know of Mark’s petition because of Ann Barnhardt’s post about it on January 24, 2024.
Why Cardinal Burke won’t reply
Cardinals are not social media personalities — at least they should have more discretion than that. And nearly all do. And Cardinal Burke is one of the most discrete.
But he is also humble and prudent. He knows what he can do as a Cardinal and of those things, what should be done which would be constructive.
That is why he will never reply. Because if you ask him something that canonically he has not responsibility or duty or right to do, what do you expect he will say? Canonically, if he does not reply in 90 days, then you should understand that he has said no.
And no, the Cardinal has no duty to reply to persons who simply want to milk him for a publicity stunt to get likes, favs and shares of their social media posts. Nor is is obliged to respond to every lonely divorced woman out there (Ann Barnhardt) or uninformed layman (Mark Docherty et alia.).
It is not that Cardinal Burke has never replied to reasonable requests, even to deny them. I know of individuals who have requested things withing his power and discretion, and he does reply politely to say no or yes.
But Cardinal Burke is not the man to write to
And for a variety of reasons, it must be said, that all these voices demanding that Cardinal Burke take action are merely wasting your time and his. His in receiving them — if they are even mailed to him, because if they are not mailed to him, then he has no obligation to reply — and you are in reading of them, since they are not written by serious or informed persons.
So if you want an investigation into the election of 2013 or into whether Pope Francis be a Catholic, or if you want Pope Francis removed from office or excommunicated, you can only obtain these things in one way, by petitioning the Bishops of the Roman Province to call a Provincial Council. And anything you write will be a waste of time unless you make your request in the proper way and for canonically valid reasons. And one way of doing that was already published in October of last year, but none of these voices attacking or appealing to Cardinal Burke has spoken about it.
I would hate to think or say that they remain silent for 4 months, because they actually hate me more than they love the Church.
But, don’t demand that any Cardinal write the Bishops of the Roman Province, because as Cardinals of the Roman Church most of them think their duty is first to the Pope and then to themselves and only last to the Church; by which they govern all their actions and exercise too great a deference to a Pope in error, or who gives public scandal. You may disagree with their approach, but that is how they got to be Cardinals. And as for Cardinal Burke, he has already led 2 public appeals (Dubia) which is more than the other 200+ Cardinals have done.
So stop pestering the wrong man.