WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cardinal Raymond Burke said Thursday that the Catholic Church is facing “a very grave crisis” due to the “grievous failure” on the part of certain bishops and that “a serious loss of confidence in our shepherds” needs to be restored after sexual abuse scandals in the United States.
“We are in the face of a very grave crisis, which is touching at the very heart of the Church because Our Lord acts on behalf of the flock through those shepherds who are ordained to act in His person, teaching, celebrating the sacraments, and governing the Church,” said Burke in an interview on Raymond Arroyo’s World Over Aug. 16.
Burke, 70, is prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura. He recently returned to Rome from an almost month-long visit to the United States and said that he had “never heard so much anger, so much disappointment, so much frustration from good, Catholic faithful” than during this visit to the U.S.
“We are dealing here with the gravest of sins … We have to focus our attention on that, and do what is just with regard to all parties involved,” the cardinal said.
“For the bishop who has failed grievously in this area, the Church’s penal remedies are expiatory remedies for his good also. They address principally the good of the flock because a bishop is a bishop for the care of the flock,” he said.
“For the bishop to prey upon the flock, committing mortal sins, this is simply unacceptable and it has to stop,” said Burke.
The only way this trust will be restored “is to get to the bottom of this whole matter and make sure for the future that this does not happen,” and this falls under the responsibility of the pope, said Burke.
It is the pope’s responsibility to receive accusations against a bishop and investigate them, he stressed.
“This is not a part of the responsibility of the conference of bishops,” he said, referring to the U.S. bishops’ Aug. 16 statement on investigation and reporting procedures for bishops’ misconduct.
“As far as developing new procedures, the procedures have been in the law of the Church for centuries. They simply, especially in recent times, have not been known and have not been followed,” he continued.
“The Catholic Church in the United States is undergoing possibly one of the worst crises that it has ever experienced,” said Burke. “It has to be recognized and it has to be dealt with in a thorough manner that is faithful to the Church’s moral law, to the Church herself, and to the office of the bishops.”
Burke said that the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation needs to be studied very carefully.
“It is simply a matter that needs to be approached with reason and with truth. Where we discover that the appropriate action has not been taken, then that bishop has to be corrected. If the bishop had failed very grievously, then he would simply have to be removed,” he said.
“What we are seeing right now in the Church, to the grave harm of so many souls and really also to the scandal of the world in general, is that the Church, which should be a beacon of light, is involved in such a crisis,” the cardinal continued. “I think we have to recognize … an apostasy from the faith. I believe that there has been a practical apostasy from the faith with regards to all of the questions involving human sexuality; principally, it starts with the idea that there can be legitimate sexual activity outside of marriage, which of course is false, completely false.”
“I do believe in this present time, not only with regard to this crisis which we are speaking, but with regard to a number of other situations in the Church that the devil is very active,” said Burke.
He emphasized that “we have to conduct all of the reasonable activity to get to the truth of the matters and try to restore justice in the Church, but at the same time all of us need to pray ever more fervently for the Church and to fast and undertake other sacrifices for the good of the Church. We really need to have some serious acts of reparation for the suffering that has been inflicted upon members of the faithful, upon the flock of our Lord, and that is our responsibility,” he said.
“I can only urge everyone to draw closer to Our Lord who leads us and guides us. He will never abandon us.”