Cardinal Burke (and LSN) on Liturgy

archbishop burkeI read Cardinal Burke’s discussion with LifeSiteNews on marriage. I do recommend people read it–not just the man’s fangirls and boys. Like the synod, it had its far-reaching moments, including this bit on liturgy:

Do you think there is a link between the “death of the cult” – non adoring, anthropocentric liturgy – and the culture of death?

CB: I’m very convinced that where abuses entered into liturgical practice in the Church, abuses which reflected a very anthropocentric direction, in other words, where the sacred worship began to be presented as the activity of man instead of the action of God in our midst, that clearly has led people in a wrong direction, and has had a very negative impact on the life of every individual and in a particular way upon married life. The beauty of married life is in a very particular way perceived and confirmed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

I’m not sure to what the interviewer, Jeanne Smits, is referring. Liturgical renewal reformed the old “cult” of worship. If there has been “death,” it is because peripheral elements like long capes, repetitions, and such have been eliminated.

It is true that one can add things to the liturgy in order to evoke a sense of mystery or even obfuscation. Certain individuals and classes of persons can be enhanced, and even Christ can be obscured as a result of good intentions.

I’m not convinced that so-called anthropocentrism is a result of Vatican II and its renewal. When I view video clips and images from the traditional Latin Mass, I see a good bit focused on clergy. Doubtless, mainstream Catholics have inherited some of this in the various cults of talk-show host, the conductor, and the fallacy that only leaders participate in the Mass (and somehow everybody needs to lead in order to have a real role). Perhaps it is a simple human failing that our egos get in the way of liturgy. Not a liberal fault at all, as such.

A lot of things happened in the 60’s and afterward. That they happened one after the other does not prove causation. Like canon law, these things are complicated, and there are no easy answers.

As for the rest of the chat, I have little to say, other than to introduce the thought that Cardinal Burke sometimes confuses doctrine with administrative practice. Certainly, he and we all hope that Church teaching is reflected in our procedures. The man is doubtless aware that the Church’s vigor with regard to serious sin once eclipsed even today’s situation. At one time, murderers, adulterers, and apostates were all excommunicated. Or worse. Even when one has killed in self-defense, great harm is done and the defender wasn’t always welcomed at the Table of the Lord. Denying the faith under pressure is a scandal compared to the heroism of martyrs.

And yet, for a sin to be mortal, does it not require consent as well as serious matter? Canon 1860 tells us:

Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every (person). the promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Is it possible to be a baptized, believing, non-Catholic Christian, for exmple. Then to be abandoned by a first spouse in a marriage the Catholic Church (perhaps unbeknownst to the Christian in question) deems valid and lawful. Then to remarry, and later to seek entry into Roman Catholicism? Is it Church teaching that adultery as such transcends canon 1860?

I would grant that for a person of Cardinal Burke’s formation and knowledge, that a second marriage would likely be impossible for him. But if we’re talking about “adultery,” as he and others insist, we have moved from questions of sacramental validity and into the realm of how ill or well a particular person’s conscience is. And does that make it a liturgical matter, for a confessor and penitent to determine in the Rite of Penance? Or are such matters too complex for priests on Saturday afternoons, or by appointment?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Cardinal Burke (and LSN) on Liturgy

  1. FrMichael says:

    Just a friendly note that the n. 1860 refers to a paragraph in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not the Code of Canon Law.

    “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is a commandment that pertains both to the objective realm of the eternal law as well as the subjective conscience and comes directly from God. Therefore it naturally takes priority over CCC n. 1860, which though important, is simply the fruit of the serious theological thinking of St. John Newman, St. John Paul, and others about the role of conscience and ignorance vis-a-vis moral culpability.

    The question here is who decides the validity of marriage. I don’t know how any Catholic could claim any authority on Earth other than the Church would have jurisdiction over this issue. Now the question becomes how the Church should best exercise this authority. Right now we have a complicated system of tribunals that does so. I’m certainly inclined to think that a simpler system would be possible. However, Cardinal Burke, a world-class canonist who has thought deeply on this issue of marriage, certainly has an important voice to be heard.

    Entrance into the Church is a public act as well as a private decision of an individual under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There are questions here that involve the external forum as well as the internal. It is no wonder that Pope Francis has gravitated to the devotion of Our Lady, Untier of Knots!

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