Pope Francis has removed Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, as a member of the Congregation of Bishops. Burke, who is very public about his anti-LGBT sentiment, was given the position by former Pope Benedict in 2009. Francis has appointed several new members to the Congregation of Bishops since becoming pope. American Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C, is among the several new appointees.
Wuerl “is no liberal, but he’s much more moderate than Cardinal Burke,” Rev. Thomas Reese, senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Wuerl was bishop of Pittsburgh before his Washington appointment. His successor in Pittsburgh, Bishop David Zubik, told the Post-Gazette, “I think Cardinal Wuerl demonstrates pastoral sensitivities that would be reflective of Pope Francis.”
Burke recently gave an interview to Catholic broadcaster EWTN in which he appeared to question Pope Francis’s recommendation that church leaders reduce their emphasis on opposition to abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. “One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that [the pope] thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman,” Burke told the network. “But we can never talk enough about that.”
Is Pope Francis showing his Jesuit training with these changes? The Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 1530's. In 1540 Ignatius introduced the Jesuit Constitutions known as 'The Formula of the Institute' in which he describes the purpose of the Jesuits; To live and work within the Jesuit tradition is to find God in all things, to be contemplative in action, to show love in deeds rather than words.
It's hard to know if Pope Francis's actions demonstrate a new direction. Only time will tell.
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