Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

burke the belligerent

By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 07, 2007

If I were Archbishop Raymond Burke, I'd be beaming with satisfaction in the afterglow of Tim Townsend's "news" story that ran in Saturday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It's a conventional exercise in journalistic knee-capping, meant to disparage Burke by canvassing the opinions of Thinking Catholics, but the meatball hired to do the hit buries the slug in his own foot and, in spite of his efforts to the contrary, boosts the only reputation Burke is concerned to have.

The occasion of the article is the controversy surrounding Burke's resignation from the board of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center Foundation, after the board refused to drop pro-abortion entertainer Sheryl Crow from a fund-raising event. Burke claimed, entirely correctly, that he would be giving scandal were he to support the stunt. The glitterati have affected bewilderment at Burke's unfashionable obstinacy, predictably pretending not to understand what religion has to do with a Catholic hospital. The whole piece is worth a read, but I enjoyed these paragraphs especially:

But that's not to say [Burke's] point of view is always shared by other Catholic leaders.

"It's clear that a small group of bishops -- and Archbishop Burke is one of a very small group -- take a ... belligerent, attitude toward the culture," [Notre Dame Professor John] McGreevy said. "The vast majority of Catholics may support embryonic stem cell research, but (Burke) doesn't want anyone who supports that position to get any sort of recognition. It's a very aggressive counter-cultural position."

An interesting use of terms. "Belligerent" means, literally, war-waging. But the war that Burke wages is a purely figurative one. One might say he was part of a war of words, but even the terms he uses are not particularly harsh or wounding in themselves. His "aggression" is, in fact, an announcement of his refusal to budge, and of the Church's incapacity to do so.

The language of belligerence might be applied -- not figuratively -- to that dismemberment of living innocents which Burke is trying to obstruct. But not all victims of injustice enchant the public imagination in the same way, and until popular sentimentalism swings in their favor their defenders are viewed as cranks rather than heroes. Try this, if you're skeptical: give me an example of an anti-Nazi defender of the Jews during the Hitler-era who, in post-World War II writing, is either 1) blamed for a belligerent attitude toward the ambient culture of anti-Semitism, or alternatively, 2) praised for his tolerance, openness, and willingness to dialogue with Nazis and Nazism. You won't find it.

There are victims, and there are victims. One day there may be Nuremberg trials of abortion enablers in which we see Donna Shalala and Ted Kennedy in the dock, but until then the chimneys of the surgical waste disposal centers may smoke away undisturbed. Not all men are cremated equal.

A further bit of shell-game semantics is found in this graf:

Not all bishops are as stringent as Burke on the issue of scandal. At a fundraiser last month, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer helped honor the late California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy, whose views on homosexuality were more nuanced than his church's, while raising $2 million for Catholic Charities.

"More nuanced," sayest thou? But of course. Nuance is a French word meaning shadow, half-shade, gradation. From the mouths of progressives "nuanced" is invariably a term of commendation in speaking of sexuality, since their project requires blurring the morally important distinctions. Gray is good. It's far from clear what actually counts as a "nuanced" view of the Levitical prohibitions ("Hey guys, let's only lick the left half of the extensor pollicis ...!"), but McCarthy is obviously meant to be congratulated for employing it.

Let me give the last word to Ronald Knox. He's writing about the progressive theologians of a century ago (from Absolute and Abitofhell):

... With sunnier Faith, with more unclouded Brow
Brilliant Arcturus did the Fates endow:
Who cried, as joyfully he bound his Sheaves,
"What I believe is what the Church believes":
Yet some might find it matter for Research,
Whether the Church taught him, or he the Church.
Corpus had trained him Reason's Truth to doubt,
And Keble added Faith, to do without.
"What matter whether two and two be four,
So long as none account them to be more?
What difference whether black be black or white,
If no officious Hand turn on the Light?
Whether our Fact be Fact no Man can know
But, Heav'n preserve us, we will treat it so!"

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  • Posted by: filioque - Mar. 25, 2010 1:14 PM ET USA

    Yes, then-Bishop Gregory did say that --- once. Then the outburst of honesty went down the memory hole and he was duly promoted to Archbishop of Atlanta, where, as far as I know, he has kept his thoughts on this matter to himself.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 25, 2010 1:07 AM ET USA

    Pretty clearly, the same forces that concealed and enabled homosexual abuse over the years are still at work, making sure that even if the Church is bankrupted, nothing will happen to interrupt the march of homosexual conduct toward complete acceptance and normalization.

  • Posted by: jmjusa - Mar. 24, 2010 7:18 PM ET USA

    When he was the president of USCCB, Arcbp Wilton Gregory famously said there is an "ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men."

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2010 7:02 PM ET USA

    That may hold true if you are gambling with you own money. Were the "gamblers" playing with their own money? Or, were they playing with the lives of others? I will then see if I can find out how much blackmail money was paid out, and whose money that might have been.