Marvelous interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke

Carl Olson over at Catholic World Report has posted an article on a recent interview Cardinal Raymond Burke gave to promote his new book.   So much good material in it I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Hard to choose what best to excerpt since there is so much excellent material in it.  I love his simplicity and directness.  It astonishes me that this Cardinal is so despised, but then, maybe it doesn’t, because he is not afraid to be a sign of contradiction.

Asked about the positive remarks made about Islam in Vatican II’s Nostra aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, Cardinal Burke distinguished between saying Christians and Muslims acknowledge the same Creator and saying we worship the same God. “How can the God we know, who is fundamentally a God of love as St. John says, be the same God that commands and demands of Muslims to slaughter infidels and to establish their rule by violence?”

One of the most interesting answers from Cardinal Burke came in response to a question about liturgy and the recent remarks by Cardinal Sarah about the need to worship “ad orientem” (facing liturgical East). Celebrating liturgy and worshiping properly is necessary, said Cardinal Burke, to fully appreciate the order of reality and to grasp the truth given to us through Christ. After the Council there was a “tremendously man-centered approach to the sacred liturgy”—not sanctioned by the Council—”to the extent that the idea that this worship offered to God according to God’s commandments was completely lost, and the liturgy became something that we created” and people claimed there was a need to “experiment” and to make liturgy “interesting”. This blurred the “essential encounter between heaven and earth which is the liturgy, between eternity and time”. One unfortunate result of this, said Cardinal Burke, is that many Catholics stopped coming to Mass, and those who did continue to come were “not being nourished with the truth and were not seeing the sacred liturgy this wonderful mystery of faith, God’s plan of salvation”.

Asked about Cardinal Sarah’s statements, Cardinal Burke flatly stated, “I agree with him completely, and I believe that many of the comments made afterwards are not well-informed and are not fair.” The fundamental point made by Cardinal Sarah about the position of the priest during Mass is that the priest is the head of the congregation; he is acting in persona Christi in offering worship to God—”and so all of us are facing the Lord”. Rather than the priest “turning his back to the people”, he is actually “leading us in worship” to help us lift our minds and hearts to God. He emphasized that nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “would demand or even suggest that Mass should suddenly be now celebrated with the priest facing the people”. This change, he said, is something that was “introduced afterwards and I think was part of the false liturgical reforms”. Echoing some of the points made by Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Burke pointed that when the priest faces the people “there is a great temptation … to see him as some kind of a performer, and now instead of the priest together with the people relating to God, somehow it becomes an interaction between the priest and the people.”

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1 Response to Marvelous interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke

  1. Rev22:17 says:


    Msgr. Edwin Barnes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter also published some very insightful comments on his blog, Antique Richborough, on 24 August.

    Of course Cardinal Sarah is right. There are these dangers in vernacular liturgy celebrated facing the people. I could wish though that the good Cardinal had also pointed up some of the dangers in a liturgy not “understanded of the people” (Cranmer, I believe) and also in ‘ad orientem’ celebrations.

    It is possible for a mass to become so liturgically correct, so observant of every foot-note in Fortescue and O’Connell, that those celebrating (not least, but not only, the Servers) can lose sight of what they are about. I have witnessed ‘North end’ celebrations in the Church of England which were deeply devout and prayerful. Equally I have seen priests celebrating Mass facing the apse who have been quite switched off – and certainly inattentive to the needs of the worshippers as they gabbled the Latin and dropped into supposedly pious inaudibility, while self-important servers fussed about the altar.

    Ah, yes, exactly! A mass “so liturgically correct… that those celebrating… lose sight of what they are about” and “priests who are switched off — and certainly inattentive to the needs of the worshippers…” were in fact, so prevalent in times past that the Second Vatican Council saw a need to address this matter in its very first document — the sacred constitution Sacrosantum concillium on divine worship (boldface added).

    11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

    ‘Nuff said.

    The good monsignor concludes: For where two or three are gathered together in his name (and no advice in scripture on which way they should be facing) there is the Lord in the midst of them. (Matt.xviii 20)

    Ah perhaps it really does</I. say which way we should be facing. Should we not be facing our Lord, present in our midst?


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