Pope Replaces US Bishop on Influential Panel

Image: Pope Replaces US Bishop on Influential Panel From left: Pope Francis, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 12:03 AM

By Cathy Burke

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Pope Francis has removed conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke from his seat on the Vatican’s influential Congregation for Bishops, reports said Monday.

The pope Monday appointed Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl to the 18-member board; Burke, former archbishop of St. Louis and president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, had been appointed to the Congregation for Bishops by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Burke is seen as representative of a more aggressive line than the pope on the Western culture wars, the National Catholic Reporter reported Monday.

“He is saying that you don’t need to be a conservative to become a bishop,” Alberto Melloni, the director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, Italy, a liberal Catholic research institute, told The New York Times.

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“He wants good bishops, regardless of how conservative or liberal they are.”

Cardinal Burke is known for upholding of church rites and traditions favored by Pope Benedict XVI, The Times reported.

He'd also been a leader of American bishops who'd argued Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving communion; Cardinal Wuerl had taken an opposite tack, The Times said.

“That certainly is in line with the pope, who has said that communion is not a reward for being good,” the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and the author of “Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church” told The Times.

“It is a sacrament of healing to help people.”

In an interview Burke gave to American Catholic broadcaster EWTN last week, he raised concerns about Pope Francis' comments suggesting church teaching on matters such as abortion and gay marriage doesn't need to be repeated, saying "we can never talk enough" about the defense of human life, the Catholic Reporter said.

Since his election in March, Pope Francis has won praise — and the Time magazine naming as Person of the Year — for being a kind and humble leader.

The Times noted he's also expressed the intention to reorganize and overhaul the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that governs the church.

But the pope has also found himself in the crosshairs of some American conservatives, including talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who found one of his apostolic procomations "pure Marxism."

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