In today’s Gospel, Our Lord says to those who would follow Him that “foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head.”
This verse carries more meaning to me today as I reflect upon the announcement last week that Archbishop Raymond Burke has been named the new prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest judicial body. This appointment will entail his moving to Rome, where he will be missed by all of us here in the States, especially here in the heartland.
Already he has had to leave rural Wisconsin, where he faithfully served as priest and bishop for many years prior to being named the Archbishop of St. Louis. Now his immense pastoral and canonical gifts will be put to the service of the universal Church.
St. Louis certainly put Archbishop Burke’s canonical training to the test, as in just a few years he’s had to deal with just about everything under the sun, from renegade parishes to the “ordination” of women. But what brought him national attention was his principled refusal to give Holy Communion to Sen. John Kerry, the outspokenly “pro-choice” Catholic presidential candidate in 2004. Some bishops followed Archbishop Burke’s lead in all this, but many American bishops and canonists disagreed with Archbishop Burke’s interpretation of what appears (to the layman’s eyes, at least) to be the clear meaning of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which spells out the Church’s discipline regarding the denial of Holy Communion to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin. I suppose his current appointment to the highest judicial office in the Church affords him and those of us who supported him with some measure of vindication.
Archbishop Burke has been a wonderful supporter of Catholics United for the Faith for many years, and for over a decade has been an active member of our episcopal advisor council. I am grateful for the personal solicitude he has shown me through the years, and all my family (including his namesame, three-year-old Raymond Leon Suprenant) wish him the very best in Rome and pledge to remember him frequently in our prayers.
And how can I not mention that all his friends at Catholics United for the Faith this day wish him a very happy and blessed 60th birthday.
And who knows, if he stays in Rome long enough, he may become the most popular Cardinal since Albert Pujols!