Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cardinal Burke withdraws from London conference

Fr Ray Blake (Is this why Cardinal Burke is not coming?) and Laurence England (who was going to attend the conference) carries news of the embarassing cancelation by Cardinal Burke of a talk he was to give at the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (PEP) Faith of our Fathers Conference later this month.

I had seen the publicity which contained open criticism of the Bishops of England and Wales. The Cardinal's letter makes it clear that this criticism is what led to his cancellation. I think the Cardinal had no choice but to cancel.

The title of His Eminence's talk was to be "The Restoration of Church Discipline and Evangelisation". Cardinal Burke has spoken on innumerable occasions about the failure by Church authorities (including of course bishops) to use Canon Law to enforce discipline in the Church. He has never criticised individual bishops but has pointed to a general malaise in the Church in an era when Canon Law was frowned upon as unnecessary legalism and contrary to the evangelium. (See e.g. here.)

He is more than capable of giving a conference on the restoration of Church discipline i.e. the restoration of the proper esteem for and observance of Canon Law and the Church's legal processes and how such restoration lies very much at the heart of the work of evangelisation, without the slightest hint of disrespect to his brother bishops. He has a marvellous way of speaking the truth with great charity and grace. I have no doubt (having heard him speak last year at La Crosse) that his talk would be a source of inspiration to bishops and other clergy, and laity too. He would have shown the greatest of respect to his brother bishops in the territory he was visiting. Naturally, it would also be possible for any well-informed Catholic to read between the lines and find that, perhaps, there was something lacking. After all, if he is talking about restoration, something must have collapsed. But the Cardinal's comments would have referred to a problem that is both universal and local and would have pointed - very positively - to a constructive way forward.

Daphne McLeod wrote a letter to the Cardinal dated yesterday which can be read at PEP's News Flash page. Obviously there is no chance that the lecture will now go ahead.


  1. Not in the slightest bit surprised about the cancellation!

  2. In the circumstances, he could do no other. An unnecessary own goal. Very sad, and it places priests who are due to attend the conference in an awkward position.

  3. Very sad day indeed.


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