Just coming off of being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, Pope Francis has made yet another change to the church that should have many cheering and the carnival barkers shaking. A series of announcements by Pope Francis changed some positions inside of the Church, and in continuing with reforming the Christian religion, ousted a popular Right-wing Cardinal out of St. Louis.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, was relieved of his duties on Tuesday by the Pope Francis himself. Burke had been a very outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage over the years. He gained national attention in 2004 when he stated he would not give Communion to then-Presidential candidate John Kerry, because he was a Roman Catholic who supported abortion rights.
Cardinal Burke recently doubled-down on that sentiment during an interview EWTN, Burke stated:
“I’ve thought about it because I’ve received very severe criticism, both at the time that I was insisting on applying the discipline and also in my writing and other situations. But I have to say that, I think about it again, the discipline itself, and it’s a consistent discipline from the time of St. Paul, from the very first years of the Church, and it makes perfect sense.”
Ironically, Burke says nothing about denying Communion to President Bush, who put the United States in to two unnecessary wars that resulting in the lives on hundreds of thousands, ordered the torture of innocent people from information gathered on unreliable information, cut billions from government assistance programs, and goes on from there. He also presided over numerous executions while Governor of Texas. All of those things are okay, however, because he still did not support abortion or same-sex marriage…even though Bush and fellow Republicans did nothing to outlaw such actions.
Cardinal Burke had also been highly critical of the changes under Pope Francis. It is because of the changes inside of the Church that Burke, and others like him, will no longer have a place in the public eye. Instead, Burke will retain his position as the head of the Vatican high court, called the Apostolic Signatura.
Pope Francis finally has had enough of the hypocrisy spewing from leaders in the Christian community, and is doing his best to transform its image. Christians supposedly follow the word of Christ, yet often get caught up in parts of the bible that Christ flat-out opposed. Jesus never spoke about same-sex marriage or abortion, but did speak of loving everybody, forgiveness, healing the sick and caring for the poor.
The same people that will point to Leviticus to excuse their hate, often forget the other laws set out in the same passage. According to Leviticus, along with banning homosexuality, it also bans wearing mixed fabrics, cutting your hair (facial or otherwise), eating shell fish, eating pork, and not to tattoo or scar the body. Perhaps it is time for some of these buffet-Christians, those who pick the parts they like and disregard the ones they dislike, to reevaluate their position.
What Pope Francis is doing is clearing the trash. People like Cardinal Burke are a dying breed who have no place being a representative of the Christian religion. Many of us have become so used to Christians telling us how evil we all are for being sinners, that we forgot what it was really about. The ousting of Cardinal Burke puts the religion one step closer to getting back to its true values.
When Pope Francis was ordained, the fellow Cardinals stated he was chosen to change the public’s perception of the Church. Francis is not perfect, he has made some controversial comments in the past regarding the gay community, but he seems to have grown wiser with the papal. Whether the Cardinals understood what they were getting when they chose him is unclear, but what he has done in less than a year is nothing short of incredible.
Francis is neither Liberal or Conservative, in the political sense. He is simply practicing what he is preaching, and willing to defend exactly what he believes. Moves like the ousting of Cardinal Burke and responding to criticisms by pundits of, not him, but the religion he represents puts the Church in a much needed positive light. Naturally, his views are going to come off as more “Liberal,” because that is what the teachings of Christ promoted. It may be a slap in the face to the likes of Sara Palin, but hopefully will be a wake up call to others. He has our attention, and that is half the battle.