Cardinal Burke: Tolerance Falsely Exalted as 'The Virtue Which Governs All Other Virtues'
In a recently published comprehensive interview, America’s most senior Catholic cardinal said that the failure to catechize children and young people in the teachings of the Church has crippled its response to significant moral issues of our time.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, gave an interview during the summer to Minneapolis-based The Catholic Servant, which was republished in The Wanderer. His comments reveal his deep concern for a Church in an “anti-life and anti-family culture” and the growing persecution of Christians under “totalitarian” government.
Asked about the growth of the same-sex union agenda and what the faithful need to do to block further attacks on marriage between one man and one woman, Burke said, first and foremost, much prayer and fasting are needed. He expressed concern about the quick and deceptive nature of the activist agenda to undermine the family:
The alarming rapidity of the realization of the homosexual agenda ought to awaken all of us and frighten us with regard to the future of our nation. This is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which after life itself defines us.
“It is a diabolical situation,” Burke said, “which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation.”
Burke went on to say that the increasing acceptance and legality of same-sex union is a “manifestation of a culture of death, of an anti-life and anti-family culture which has existed in our nation now for some time.” He believes Catholics have been largely unable to mobilize against it because, “we have not been taught our Catholic Faith, especially in the depth needed to address these grave evils of our time.”
This is a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years. It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention…
After fifty years of this, we have many adult voters who support politicians with immoral positions because they do not know their Catholic Faith and its teaching with regard to same- sex attraction and the inherent disorder of sexual relations between two persons of the same sex. Therefore, they are not able to defend the Catholic Faith in this matter.
Critical of what he views as “an exaltation of the virtue of tolerance which is falsely seen as the virtue which governs all other virtues,” Burke asserted that such a deception has led to the idea that “we should tolerate other people in their immoral actions to the extent that we seem also to accept the moral wrong.”
Tolerance is a virtue, but it is certainly not the principal virtue; the principal virtue is charity. Charity means speaking the truth, especially the truth about human life and human sexuality. While we love the individual, we desire only the best for one who suffers from an inclination to engage in sexual relations with a person of the same sex. We must abhor the actions themselves because they are contrary to nature itself as God has created us.
“The virtue of charity leads us to be kind and understanding to the individual, but also to be firm and steadfast in opposing the evil itself,” Burke said. “There is far too much silence – people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”
Asked specifically about the case of self-professed Catholic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who refused to answer a reporter’s question about the moral difference between Kermit Gosnell’s murder of babies born alive during botched abortions and electing to abort a baby using late-term abortion, Burke responded:
Certainly this is a case when Canon 915* must be applied. This is a person who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic. This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.
*[Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states those who are persevering in grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion.]
Burke said the idea that Catholic political figures who espouse views that contradict the Catholic faith should be honored by Catholic universities is “a contradiction, it is wrong, it is a scandal, and it must stop!”
We live in a culture with a false sense of dialogue — which has also crept into the Church — where we pretend to dialogue about open and egregious violations of the moral law. Can we believe it is permissible to recognize publicly people who support open and egregious violations, and then act surprised if someone is scandalized by it? For Catholic institutions or individuals to give recognition to such persons, to honor them in any way, is a source of grave scandal for which they are responsible. In a certain way, they contribute to the sinfulness of the individuals involved. There is no way to reconcile it; it simply is wrong.
Burke did not mince any words in response to a question about the prospect of Catholics who remain faithful to Church teachings experiencing ejection from fields such as health care, education, or counseling when their beliefs contradict government policies:
If the present government, which can be described in no other way than totalitarian, is not held back from the course it is on, these persecutions will follow. It will not be possible for Catholics to exercise most of the normal human services whether in health care, education, or social welfare because in conscience they will no longer be able to do what the government demands: to cooperate in grave moral evil. We are heading in that direction and even see it now.
However, Burke is hopeful that the current wave of government overreach can be turned back.
“A government like ours can and must be stopped in what it is doing,” he said. “Polls tell us that the majority of Americans are opposed to procured abortion and also are opposed to the idea of recognizing the sexual union of two persons of the same sex in marriage or the equivalent of marriage. Why then is our government imposing this upon a people who, with rightly formed consciences, oppose these matters?”
Burke added that the most hopeful sign to him is young people “who recognize how bankrupt our culture is and want the truth. They realize that this whole bill of goods we have been sold with regard to abortion, same-sex unions, and so forth is ultimately destructive.”
“So I would say that is the greatest single cause for hope,” he concluded. “Those of us who are older should take great encouragement; at the same time, we must invest ourselves in communicating with the younger generation and helping them to build a better future.”