Pope Francis demoted conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke on Saturday, removing him as the head of the Vatican’s highest court. Reuters reports that Burke, 66, had been responsible for leading a conservative group that opposed the Pope’s plans for the Church to be more welcoming to gays.
Last month, Burke told BuzzFeed that he knew the demotion was coming, stating that it was a “disappointment to leave” his position as the highest-ranking American in the Vatican. He was reportedly demoted to the ceremonial post of chaplain of the charity group Knights of Malta.
Reuters reports that Pope Francis wanted to avoid the “culture wars” that the conservative cardinal brought on, especially in light of a recent meeting, known as a synod, where Burke campaigned to “water down” a draft of a document that reportedly had “the Church’s most positive language ever on gay people.”
The original draft stated that gay people had “gifts and qualities to offer,” but that passage was removed. The final document was more conservative in nature, stating only that discrimination of gays “is to be avoided.” Burke told BuzzFeed that the pope should not be able to make changes to the church’s teaching when it comes to “homosexual acts.”
“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth… The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
In a recent interview with Life News, Cardinal Burke stated that he finds gay relationships “profoundly disordered and harmful,” and suggested that parents should not allow their children to have contact with gay people. Burke went on to say that welcoming gays into the Church would give children the “impression” that sexual relationships “outside of God’s plan” is acceptable.
“The unqualified welcome of homosexual couples into family and parish environments in fact damages everybody, by serving to normalise the disorder of homosexuality.”
This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has removed Cardinal Burke from a position of influence. Burke, who was ordained into the priesthood in 1975 by Pope Paul VI, was removed from the board of a department at the Vatican that handles the appointment of Bishops.