Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Archbishop Burke's new appointments

Archbishop Burke has been appointed by the Holy Father to two important dicasteries at the Vatican: the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the Congregation for Clergy. The former is clearly a recognition of his great talent in canon law. Note that this comes after his brilliant exegesis of Canon 915 in Canonica, as well as his two decrees of excommunication for the women who play-acted at becoming priests and the two members of St. Stanislaus Corporation who joined the board of that former parish, and after his decree banning canon lawyer Father Thomas Doyle, O.P., from his archdiocese because Father Doyle was incompetent in his duties towards his clients, who happened to be members of St. Stanislaus Corporation.

The latter appointment, however, may seem a little less obvious. The Congregation for Clergy, as the news sources have pointed out, oversees the seminaries and other priestly formation. It's also the congregation that hears complaints about priestly behavior. But it's also the congregation that is concerned with catechesis (its origin lies in bringing a correct interpretation of the norms of the Council of Trent). And this is probably where Archbishop Burke fits in.

As is probably not very well-known, he is the National Director of the Marian Catechists, the group founded by the late Father John Hardon, SJ. Father Hardon basically anointed then-Bishop Burke to take over the group after his death. And what isn't known at all outside of people in La Crosse who took his class, is that when then-Father Burke was teaching at Aquinas High School in La Crosse, he was developing his own text on moral theology. It actually went over very well with his students. (In fact, it was going so well that when Bishop Frederick Freking of La Crosse called Father Burke to tell him that he was sending him to Rome to study canon law, Father Burke, then only ordained three years, replied by saying that he was doing really well at Aquinas and he would like to continue doing that work. There was, then-Bishop Burke related to me, a long pause on the other end of the phone and then Bishop Freking said, "I didn't think I was asking you.")

Yet, I pity the poor man. It's not like he doesn't have enough to do already. Still, I will make a prediction -- a red hat at the next consistory.