Cdl. Burke reappointed to Vatican’s highest court

Return comes three years after he was removed as prefect of Apostolic Signatura

Cardinal Burke (photo from Catholic News Agency)

Saturday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura – the Holy See’s highest court – which he previously headed for six years.

Burke, 69, is currently patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta, which he was appointed to in 2014 by Pope Francis. An expert in canon law, he served as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2008 to 2014.

Other members added to the tribunal were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, 77, and Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, also 77. Vallini was prefect of the Apostolic Signatura before Burke, from 2004 to 2008. He then served as Vicar General of Rome until his retirement in May of this year.

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is one of three courts within the Holy See. The others are the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

The Signatura, as it’s called, functions sort of like a Supreme Court and the Apostolic Penitentiary is the court in charge of some cases involving excommunication, and dealing with matters addressed within confession.

The Rota is akin to a court of appeals or court of “last instance,” and is also where marriage annulment cases are judged.

As the chaplain of the Knights of Malta, Burke has clashed with the Holy See over the removal of the Grand Chancellor of the Knights. He is also one of four cardinals who signed the controversial dubia, a letter asking Pope Francis to clarify parts of his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”

In an interview Sept. 24 Burke said that he’s been wrongly depicted as the “enemy” of Pope Francis.

Even though he believes that the current division in the Church demands an answer to requests for clarity, he noted that as faithful Catholics, those who have expressed doubt or concern over the confusion surrounding “Amoris Laetitia” love the Pope “with complete obedience to the office of Peter.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. Good! Stack the church’s supreme court with conservatives so it can overrule what Pope Francis is doing. Maybe the court can rule on the dubia. That would be interesting.

  2. St. Christopher says:

    Likely fang-less, though. Francis would never permit an enemy to get anywhere near a position of power. It also makes the Pope look more neutral, though. Win-win for Pope Francis.

    • As a lay person, thinking that clerics and prelates are “enemies” of each other is UNBECOMING of a lay person. Just plain distasteful. For your information SC, the Church regards Francis and Burke as “brothers”–blood brothers in fact–which is shown by the red colors that cardinals wear. Cardinals are called to be willing to shed their blood in defense of the faith, in defense of the pope. So, for a lay person like you to describe these two leaders of the Church as “enemies” is just playing along with the media’s spin and SECULARITY.

      • That’s rich, coming from a guy who does nothing but criticize fellow members of the Body of Christ for not living up to his personal standards of orthodoxy and box-comment purity. It’s like you went to the Fr. James Martin, S.J. school of hypocrisy.

        • Anonymous says:

          Outstanding, Mike. Perfectly summed up.

          • Anonymous says:

            But he probably wouldn’t have much to live for, if he couldn’t knock down fellow Catholics.

        • Folks, there is an article in this blog on how to argue about religion on the internet. Read it. To Robert Barron’s words I would add that if you are going to criticize a comment, you criticize the CONTENT, not the person making the comment. OK? For example, my words criticized the CONTENT of SC’s comment, namely his characterizing our spiritual leaders as “enemies.” However, notice that the “anonymous” comments–and Mike’s–rather attempt to criticize the person making a comment, namely myself. Theirs is an example of how NOT to argue on the internet. As the saying goes, the recourse of someone who has lost an argument is to insult the person. So, folks, read that article.

          • There is a difference between criticizing a person for the content of his post and criticizing a person for reasons that have nothing to do with the content of his post. The latter is an ad hominem fallacy; the former is not.

            Does jon have harsh words for Bishop McElroy, who has called critics of Fr. Martin a “cancer” in the Church? Does he have harsh words for Fr. Martin himself, who characterizes his opponents as homophobes, bigots and (in code) as Nazis?

            Folks, realize the tricks sophists use to win arguments they cannot win on merits.

          • You CONSTANTLY attack others on this site with your arrogant know it all attitude, who cares what you think

          • Anonymous says:

            My, my, when bad behavior is so succinctly pointed out, as by Mike, how one doth scream so.

            It is hopeless to expect apologies or remorse from one who, so much like Bergoglio, demonstrates an absolute lack of conscience.

          • Sorry Mike, but your response is specious. Criticizing the person making the argument, rather than criticizing the argument and the position he is holding, is STILL ad hominem. For example, rather than characterizing me personally as a “hypocrite” (ad hominem), you could have critiqued my position that the Pope and the Cardinal are indeed enemies and that SC is justified for saying that they are.

      • Unfortunately the truth can sometimes be distasteful….

        • Cardinal Burke would be the last person to call the Holy Father as his “enemy.” There is no truth at all in SC’s most uncharitable characterization of the Pope and the Cardinal as enemies. Most uncharitable and distasteful.

          • The Real Ralph says:

            Yes, when revolutionaries get called out they complain, “Uncharitable! Distasteful! That’s a no-no!”

          • Anonymous says:

            I have found jon’s comments to be 99% in keeping with Church teaching. If anything he is a little zealous for Catholic Truth and that offends some other people who either do not agree with Church teaching or the Pope’s writings.
            “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

          • Anonymous 2 says:

            Right, right, Anonymous’ narrative is tis perfectly fine to be uncharitable and sink to personal attacks, if it is for “the cause.”

            In fact, most of jon’s verbiage really is just to praise himself. And you didn’t get that?

          • Anonymous says:

            Cardinal Burke has stated publicly that it disturbs him to be characterized as an enemy of the Pope. He is a loyal son of the Church.

          • Linda Maria says:

            Best to spend your time in religious post-writing, protesting against the hypocritical, immoral, and highly erroneous Bishop McElroy, jon– very, very serious malpractice of our Catholic Faith, in this prelate!!

          • Anonymous says:

            This is a comment section on a news website. Personal attacks are inappropriate. They are immature and unchristian.
            Maybe we should check with Mary or our Guardian Angel before we hit “Post Comment”

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        I agree with you, jon completely on point.

        It is completely legitimate that people in the Christian community have disagreements about things. It is a completely another thing to claim that we are “enemies” of one another.

        We are enemies of the devil. Nothing more and nothing less. Peter and Paul disagreed with one another, to be sure. They were always both of them on the side of Christ Jesus the Lord. As are all of us. Let us treat each other as though we are one body, one Lord, in Christ.

        • YFC utter nonsense, we are true enemies, you promotes lies and deception, you do not accept sexual moral teachings of the Church that is obvious. When I see rainbow flags replacing statues of Saints and the Virgin Mary, I know the person who did that is my enemy.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            Apparently you haven’t read the catchism about how you are supposed to treat gay people.

          • YFC apparently you have read the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality.

        • So when Bishop McElroy recently called those who disagree with Fr. Martin a “cancer” in the Church, was that inappropriate? Bishop McElroy regarded some of his fellow members of the Body of Christ as a cancer; that is, as a foreign, invasive, hostile presence instead of as fellow Christians. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When Fr. Martin calls his opponents homophobes, is he being inappropriate?

          If Fr. Martin would only answer a few clarifying questions about whether he affirms all of Catholic doctrine, he would easily avoid being reasonably perceived as an enemy of the Church within her.

          • To Mike: Bishop McElroy and Fr. Martin have sufficient enough people in this blog to correct them. I feel no need to add my voice to the chorus, unless the criticism is off-base, such as SC’s characterizing Burke as the Pope’s “enemy,” which is VERY WRONG! That I do not comment on criticisms against McElroy and Martin simply means that I agree on those critical comments against them. Learn therefore this practice from law: “qui tacet consentire videtur” (he who is silent consents).

          • Anonymous says:

            To be clear, what Bishop McElroy called a “cancer” in the Church was a specific form of verbal abuse: vilification. He did not call any person a “cancer.”

        • Anonymous says:

          Hollow remonstrations. A mere effort to assert control over speech when one can’t defend one’s track record.

        • Coming from a self proclaimed Sodomite this is interesting. YFC, I’m a sinner, and certainly try as Christ said “go and sin no MORE”. You sir run around and promote that what is intrinsic. I suggest you clean up your act and stop being an enemy to what Christ has taught.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            I’m not a self proclaimed Sodomite, Joe. Christ never taught that I am “intrinsic”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Log meet eye.

          • YFC Christ never taught that incest was evil and forbidden but we know that it is, as is homosexuality

        • Anonymous says:

          cosi’ sempre dagli uomosessuali!

        • As a reader of comments here, I sometimes notice the several times when YFC has outwitted and has won the argument against many of his detractors, and I must say that his comment up there is one of them. YFC has CORRECTLY identified who the real “enemy” is. Folks the enemy of Pope Francis is not Cardinal Burke, and vice versa. Your enemy is not your fellow Catholics who love the OF, nor is it Pope Francis; it is not Bishop McElroy, nor is it Fr. Martin. Yes, some of these folks—in your estimation–may have the wrong understanding of things contrary to your understanding, but that doesn’t make them your real “enemy.” Your true enemy is the Devil who is called Satan. As St. Peter wrote: “Be sober and watch: because your…

          • adversary [enemy] the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter5:8). Folks, Satan is THE ENEMY of the human race. He wants humanity to be dead, like him. He wants the Church to be divided within itself, and dissenting! So, people, reflect on that the next time you pour your venom against the people in the Church you do not agree with. And YFC, congratulations for outwitting your detractors.

      • Anonymous says:

        jon, the pontificator in chief, get real. Francis’s actions belie his honeyed words. He calls for more and more understanding and mercy—except, of course, toward those who disagree with him or ask him to clarify his ambiguous teaching. GET REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Classic totalitarian move: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
      P.S.: Hey jon, You still coming by the house to barbecue next Sunday after Mass?

  3. Linda Maria says:

    Good news!! But very strange, for Pope Francis to do this! It would be nice to have more information on this!! Also, Cardinal Burke used to be the prefect– so, will he actually serve again, in that role?? Or– in a lesser role?? Wonder what Cardinal Burke thinks?? (Too bad he or Cardinal Sarah could not serve as our Pope!!)

  4. Damage control?

  5. William Robert says:

    This action demonstrates the Holy Father’s open mindedness, mercy and fairness. Cardinal Burke was previously “spanked” by the Holy Father and now the good cardinal has been restored to a position of responsibility. Also, Cardinal Burke was not one of the signatories on a ill-conceived letter accusing the Holy Father of heresy. Cardinal Burke has learned his lesson.

    • William Robert there is nothing ill conceived about the letter which rightly accuses Francis of heresy, you libeals just cannot stand the fact he is being called out for what he is.

    • Are you fliping kidding me, spanked and learned his leason ? This is an example why priests have become femanized and refuse to stand up. Some act like sissys. Spanked ? Pleeeeease. What next, they should be told to go stand in the corner ?

    • Anonymous says:

      First point: the letter did not accuse the Pope of heresy.
      Second point: Cardinal Burke is a great canonist. You want him on the Court.

  6. Isn’t Cdl. Burke in his 60s? Pope Francis is near 80. Simple math says Burke has a chance. Burke’s issue is that Francis appoints Cardinals. Thus, the next conclave may not favor Burke.

  7. Joel Fago says:

    It looks like Cardinal Burke is leaving the correction of the heresies to others. I think that he is afraid that by issuing the Formal Act of Correction it will cause schism. Cardinal Burke, schism already exists!

    • greg stuart says:

      I wonder if there have been cardinals declining appointments? Or do they even have the right to ??
      I guess obedience is utmost required of them ???
      Two of the four cardinals who authored the dubia are dead. Who now will be able to issue the formal act of correction once Cardinal Burke is “tied up” in court ???

  8. jon should read his own comment and listen to it.

  9. Linda Maria says:

    There are many names for a person who is at complete disagreement with your views. The Pope himself has strongly used his own vocabulary, to describe those who are “foes” to his beliefs! So, who cares, if one uses the term “enemy?” It is all expressing the same idea! The Pope has his own way of expressing this, and so does everyone else!! So what?? Why take it seriously?? Why does jon waste his time, and make many “foes” for himself, over a silly thing like that?? Some great men have stated that if you don’t have some “enemies” in life, by standing up for God and for what is right— then, maybe there is something wrong with you!!

    • Anonymous says:

      His beliefs are those of the Catholic Church. They are those of Jesus Christ. Don’t believe the things that people write on the Internet. Pray the Rosary. Pray the prayer to St. Michael. Get a traditional Catholic prayer book and pray every prayer for the Church and the Pope and clergy that is in it. Pray with Scripture. Pray the Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.

  10. Anonymous, what did your Guardian Angel tell you about your comment? What did Mary say?

  11. Latin Lover says:

    Absolutely love it when Cardinal Burke gets all vested up for a celebration of the TLM.

  12. Good for you, Anonymous. What does your Guardian Angel look like?

  13. If you can’t see your Guardian Angel, how do you know he is the one who is speaking to you? Could the voice belong to someone else?

  14. If you don’t hear anything, then how do you know what he is saying?

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.