Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading conservative within the Catholic Church who has been at odds with Pope Francis, will give a public lecture on the defense of the faith Friday in Lenexa.
Burke will speak on “The Challenges to the Defense of the Faith in Our Times” at 7 p.m. at St. James Academy High School, 24505 Prairie Star Parkway. He will also celebrate Mass at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary-St. Anthony Church, 615 N. Seventh St., Kansas City, Kan.
The American was one of four cardinals to question the pope’s positions on church doctrine concerning divorce and other matters of the family. They were referring to what they say are ambiguities in Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) that cause confusion over established church teaching, particularly about whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion. The pope did not respond to the cardinals’ questions, and the rift became public.
There has been other friction between Francis and Burke. In 2013, the pope removed Burke from the department that oversees the selection of new bishops, and in 2014 he demoted Burke from his position as prefect of the Vatican’s supreme court.
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Since then, Burke had been the church’s envoy to the Knights of Malta, but it was thrown into turmoil after the revelation that its charity work included distribution of condoms. The church forbids contraception. The group’s grand master fired the man who oversaw the program and then defied the pope’s authority when Francis tried to look into the matter. The pope last month accepted the resignation of the grand master and said he would name a new papal delegate to run the order.
Burke has also brushed against the political world, openly supporting Donald Trump after his election as president for his pro-life stand and positions on immigration. He is reported to be close to Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
As archbishop of St. Louis from 2003-2008, Burke called for an end to communion for Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion.
Burke’s talk Friday is the second annual Defense of the Faith Lecture presented by the Kansas City Region of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Comments on the announcement on Burke’s Facebook page were universally supportive.
“Some members of the order are not taking Francis’ predations lying down, at least,” said one.
“So grateful to you, your Eminence, Cardinal Burke,” said another. “You speak for us ‘little ones’ who have no voice, but see the betrayal of our Holy Faith. May Our Lord protect you, and Our Lady comfort you, and intercede for us.”
One posting contained a warning: “Watch your back Roman (sic) is watching.”