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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: - May. 08, 2007 9:03 PM ET USA

    What we need today is a new "Counter-Reformation" as in the 16th century. A counter-reformer is not a mere "conservative" or even merely "orthodox". We've got lots of those after these 2 decades. A counter-reformer in the root sense of the phrase is a REFORMER, not a mere conserver; and he is COUNTER: he knows what he is against. Archbishop Burke meets the definition sublimely.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 6:25 PM ET USA

    Remember that the Church on earth is referred to as "the Church Militant". How can we be "militant" if we're not fighting a war against something or someone? "Belligerent" is a MOST APPROPRIATE word to use for someone defending the Faith as we all should be. It's far too unfortunate that the majority of the Princes and Successors to the Apostles of our Church lack the faith and moral fortitude to teach and lead as so many before them have done. No sacrifice was too great for our ancestors!

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 4:46 PM ET USA

    I would argue that the war Archbishop Burke wages is more than a figurative one. He--like every committed Christian--is waging a spiritual war against the forces of darkness. (See 2 Cor. 10:3-5.) I've read the last chapter...and we win! Keep fighting the good fight, Abp. Burke, and may the Lord be your shield and defender! Blessings also to Abp.(select) Nienstedt, coadjutor abp. of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 1:08 PM ET USA

    May he soon be Raymond Cardinal Burke...

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 11:09 AM ET USA

    I also relished this comment: "...he’s reducing Sheryl Crow to her opinion about embryonic stem cell research,” said John McGreevy...[an] expert on American Catholicism. “She might be in favor of other parts of the Catholic agenda, but that issue trumps everything.” I'd love to know how someone so utterly clueless about Catholic belief (his vision of Catholicism as a game of bridge) can be described as 'an expert'. Oh yes. AMERICAN Catholicism. I forgot.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 10:51 AM ET USA

    Thanks, Uncle Di, for supporting Archbishop Burke's action in this regard. He needs the prayers of all your readers as he suffers. It's amazing, though, isn't it? The militant atheist elements in the media tell the Church to mind her own business when she proclaims the Gospel of Life in the public square...but they don't miss a beat to tell us Catholics what we should or shouldn't believe! Thanks be to God that Burke is willing to fight a battle against an unjust aggressor.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 9:57 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Burke is a great and courageous Bishop. It would be wonderful if we had more than the strong, faithful and orthodox dozen or so Bishops who truly defend the faith! I also notice that the "unbised" secular reporters NEVER interview an orthodox Catholic. They always seem to find someone like Father McBrien or someone of his ilk.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 9:51 AM ET USA

    "Squishy" is a more accurate translation of "nuanced." In interpreting the meaning of these things, one should never forget that the USCCB (and most of its members) are the Democratic party at prayer. Hence the reluctance to confront public policies which conflict with the Church's teachings. It is all a big mess of secular relativism. God bless Archbishop Burke.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 9:45 AM ET USA

    I hope Archbishop Burke is "Belligerent"-ly waging war. It is his job to teach us. For we are called to be in the world but not "of" the world. He is fighting for the souls that many of us "catholics" cannot muster fortitute for ourselves. He speaks the truth in teaching God's will, apparently the truth hurts. That can only mean one thing, that we have "nuanced" ourselves from knowing, loving and serving God and have fallen unto oursleves. God bless this man, and may our hearts hear him.