Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, has confirmed that Pope Francis is transferring him to a largely ceremonial post as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed, Burke, 66 years old, explained that he had not yet received a formal notice of transfer, but he verified that the news was true. Rumors that Burke would be moving had been circulating for weeks.
Although certain media outlets have described Burke as “a critic of Pope Francis,” he has always spoken of the Pope with respect, and there has been no evidence of personal animosity between the two.
The claim that “Burke has publicly clashed with the Pope since Francis took office in 2013” is not quite accurate, either. His approach and emphases are very different from the Pope’s, but there has never been a public disagreement. Burke has been an outspoken advocate of clear doctrine and unambiguous language, whereas Francis has pushed the pastoral side of the Church’s mission.
Burke has, however, been an outspoken critic of Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has claimed to speak for the Pope, but Burke has said that “the Pope doesn’t have laryngitis,” implying that Francis is perfectly capable of speaking for himself.
It seems that Burke has accepted the transfer with serenity, as well as philosophy: “I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it,” Burke said. “On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust, by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important.”