Conspiracy theory: Barack, Randall, Raymond, and Rome

The headlines make the implication:
burke silenced.jpg
First, on March 26 came this piece by Austin Ruse, president of Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, in The Catholic Thing

A reliable source tells me that someone representing the Obama administration is about to put pressure on the papal nuncio to the United States to get Archbishop Raymond Burke to be quiet. The Obama complaint is that Archbishop Burke, who is now head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, has supported another bishop in his chastisement of KS Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for her support of abortion….
Sebelius… has been nominated to head the massive US Dept. of Health and Human Services….
And now there is word that someone who is well known among Republicans, and who has served in previous Republican administrations, is reaching out on behalf of the Obama administration to get the Holy See to quiet Burke, or at least to make it clear he speaks not for the Church, but only for himself….

That was preceded March 25 by this in piece:

In an interview in Rome with Catholic activist Randall Terry, Archbishop Raymond Burke said that Catholics who voted for President Barack Obama engaged in “a form of cooperation” with evil because of Obama’s pro-abortion policies.

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If a Catholic knew that abortion was gravely sinful and that Obama wanted to make abortion more available and voted for him, that Catholic “cooperated” and bears a responsibility for the consequences, said Burke.
Burke is an American and head of the papal courts at the Vatican. On Wednesday, Randall Terry screened a DVD of his interview with Burke at the National Press Club in Washington, DC….

Terry’s press conference was followed the next day, March 26, the same day as the Ruse piece, by a terse chastisement from Burke, according to US News & World Report:

Randall Terry… is… in hot water with a highly placed Roman Catholic bishop. Yesterday, Terry held a press conference in Washington to promote his campaign to pressure more US Catholic bishops to deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights….
Terry played a videotaped interview that he recently conducted in Rome with Archbishop Raymond Burke, a top Vatican official. But Burke has quickly issued a statement disavowing Terry’s campaign:
Recently, Mr. Randall Terry and some of his associates visited me in Rome and asked to videotape [still from video below left] an interview with me to share with pro-life workers for the purpose of their encouragement. The interview was conducted on March 2, 2009.

burke on video.jpg

Sadly, Mr. Terry has used the videotape for another purpose which I find most objectionable.
First, Mr. Terry issued a media advisory which gave the impression that I would be physically present at the press conference during which he played the videotape, when, in fact, I was in Rome.
Second, I was never informed that the videotape would become part of a press conference.
Third, I gave the interview as a Bishop from the United States to encourage those engaged in the respect life apostolate, not as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
Fourth, I was never informed that the videotape would be used as part of a campaign of severe criticism of certain fellow bishops regarding the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.
If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.
I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly, to my brother bishops.

Has Obama so quickly succeeded in getting Rome to shut Archbishop Burke up? Burke did clarify in his statement he was speaking on his own, not on behalf of the Vatican – as Ruse said was at the very least requested.
Of course, what do I know? But I’ve tracked Archbishop Burke since he was such a strong pro-life stalwart in WI (where I’ve even visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which he founded) and then as he remained strong in St. Louis before being assigned to Rome.
I don’t know anything about Vatican politics, but I just don’t see Archbishop Burke caving to pro-abortion pressure.
However, if I were Randall Terry, I wouldn’t have wanted to get out of bed this morning. I would die if my church leaders thought I had betrayed their trust and then publicly chastised me.
For those interested, here are Parts I and Part II of Terry’s interview with Archbishop Burke, which I think Terry should have immediately removed from YouTube after reading Burke’s statement. His not doing so to me is a shocking display of ursurpment of his Church’s authority, which in my nondenom Christian Church (my faith) world is a HUGE breach.
[HT: Facebook friend Steve Kellmeyer]

17 thoughts on “Conspiracy theory: Barack, Randall, Raymond, and Rome”

  1. “Obama wants Burke silenced?”
    Do you have any FACTS to back that up?, Or is it just making stuff up for dramatic effect?
    Anonymous sources and third degree hearsay are always “reliable”.

  2. I seriously doubt the logical conclusion from this string of events is that Burke caved to pro-abortion pressure. It seems pretty clear to me that the order of events was:
    1. Randall Terry gets his contraband interview and touts it as practically a statement of war thanks to taking it out of its understood context.
    2. Obama, ego bruised, flips out at the apparent aggressive move and wants Burke to shut up.
    3. Burke gets wind of Terry’s manipulation, instantly recognizes the aggressive appearance that resulted from said manipulation, and so moves quickly to correct the wrong use of his words.
    Abp. Burke is no fool when it comes to public relations. He was right to correct the misuse of words, and didn’t need any prompting from the White House to do so. It’s an interesting twist, though, to see Obama tip his hand in the mix-up.

  3. Well, I read the story yesterday and wondered.
    I’m inclined to believe Archbishop Burke a good and holy man, who is completely prolife. I think he was used by Terry and had no idea how the video’s were going to be used except that he was giving encouragement (a broad term, admittedly).
    First, the Vatican doesn’t care a whit about getting involved in another country’s politics – the purpose of the Catholic Church is to get all men to heaven. It does this by putting forward the teachings of Christ and will speak up (in a diplomatic manner and then more forcefully) if a situation warrants it.
    Secondly, I’ve never been able to get excited about Randall Terry. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never been quite able to fully support his idea of Operation Rescue. A good idea, that came too late, to my thinking. Abortion has been entrenched in our culture since the late 1970’s and nothing short of mass conversion will change this situation now.
    Having said all this, the Vatican DOES need to put more pressure on the American bishops to enforce Catholic teaching.

  4. What strange bedfellows doth politics make.
    As an agnostic, I can see many, many facets of this story. Yes, I’m sure the way the interview was used constituted a major breach of etiquite, at least. But I’d be much more interested to discuss the merits of the ideas expressed by Burke and emphasized by Terry.
    And of course, Obama’s favorite proabort governor, Sebellius, is now on the hot seat. Will she crash through the doors of the local cathedral, and rip the wine and wafter from the hands of the priest? How will Obama react if she becomes an embarassment to him? Stay tuned….

  5. Allegiance to Christ first, not to church leadership, not to church members, not to one’s family, not to one’s friends.
    God reigns.

  6. Bishops, for the most part these days, don’t “cave to the pro-abortionists”. Rather, their achilles heels remain pride of position.
    The AB pretty much lectured other bishops to his views previously; it’s just that when the same is expressed in a more, well,… earthy, grassroots manner, by some “lacky commoner” of the same Faith, it just doesn’t look as good, framed as it is this time in unappealing hierarchy-communication-speak. This just doesn’t ring true from an expected weathered PR dealer – to not expect many ways that his words can be used. Does that pride of position make you stupid too? And … of course, who becomes the fall guy, again? The guys, on the ground, who have taken the hits for far too long with or without propriety for the sake of the unborn.

  7. Archbishop Burke wanted his words to be an encouragement to the pro lifers, but he didn’t want this fellow bishops to hear them. In Heaven’s name, why? Do we not share the same faith as our bishops? It seems to me his fellow bishops are the ones who most need to hear his words right now. The archbishop rightly points out that abortion is a colossal social evil and anyone who votes for or supports a pro abortion politician is collaborating in evil. Archbishop Burke needs to preach that to EVERYONE, especially his fellow bishops, and not just the pro lifers who already know it.

  8. I think the Archbishop’s statement is quite appropriate and not at all out of sync with his well known history of outspoken support for the life of the unborn.
    It is indeed very disrespectful on a basic level for Randall Terry to use slight-of-hand to get the Archbishop on a video which Terry would then use in a caustic way against other bishops.
    I’m sure Archbishop Burke’s response to Terry’s press conference has absolutely zero to do with any pressure from the Obama administration. If some Republican (it wouldn’t matter what party the person is) did try to pressure the Papal nuncio, this is what I think would happen: he would be politely received, listened to for a brief time, then some excuse would be made to send him off. Then, the nuncio would forget about it and Archbishop Burke would never hear anything about it.
    I’ve seen the current Papal nuncio on several occassions and he is a very experienced, impressive, savvy man. I am quite confident that he would not be especially impressed by any such attempt to influence the leadership of the Church.
    Archbishop Burke knows that his brother bishops are well aware of canon law on this issue and of his own position on the matter as a bishop. All the U.S. bishops meet together twice a year and any bishop who stirs up significant press about hot button issues (as Burke has multiple times on this and other pro-life matters over the years), is certainly known to have done so by his brother bishops. Nothing in his comments in the interview with Terry would be a surprise to other American bishops.
    Underlying this is something that many people do not realize clearly enough (including Catholics) about the way authority works in the Catholic Church: every bishop is expected to know his role, to know the teaching of the Church, to know Church law, and to be responsible in prudence to do his best to ascertain how best to lead the local Church according to the local situation. Bishops do not have authority over other bishops. The line of authority goes from each bishop directly to the Pope.
    In Archbishop Burke’s (very important) position as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, he oversees the highest court in the Catholic Church. His position is not one of authority over other bishops unless it involved a matter that were to appear in the highest court of the Church.
    This analogy is imperfect, but perhaps helpful. Imagine the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, being interviewed on video by a grassroots leader from his home state. He tells the justice that the video will be for the encouragement of the people back home about the future of respect for the Constitution in U.S. law. Then, immediately upon arriving home, the leader holds a big splashy press conference (advertising ahead of time that he will have important, breaking news from the Chief Justice) and at this conference he berates local judges for their crummy performance and basically says, “see, here is the Chief Justice who agrees with me that you guys are a bunch of clueless losers,” and then shows the video. Such a scenario would likely be very upsetting to Justice Roberts. For, though he is Chief Justice, there is no such thing as a chain of command from local judges going up to judges on the Supreme Court. They all do their job pretty much independently, though they share a certain professional collegiality. It would be very inappropriate (and ineffective) for Justice Roberts to directly attack via some third party’s press conference his colleagues on lower court benches. Mainly, because he has no authority over them.
    It is similar with Archbishop Burke vis-a-vis his position in Rome and his relationship to bishops in the United States.
    Ninety-nine percent of the time, it is simply up to each individual bishop how and what he does to lead his diocese, including what he does and does not say to the press. For this reason, bishops as a rule do not engage in carrying out public rebukes of each other because they do not have authority over each other and besides, they have plenty of opportunity to talk privately with one another to try to influence each other.
    If Archbishop Burke thought he could persuade any particular U.S. Bishop to change how he dealt with the question of giving communion to notorious public sinners, he sure as heck would not hold a press conference. He would pick up the phone and make a private phone call.
    Again, these men know each other. They talk to each other regularly. It is just plain naive and dumb for Randall Terry to jump in to “save the day” thinking that a video from Archbishop Burke obtained under misleading pretenses is going to do anything to change the actions of other bishops.
    I’m sure the position of some U.S. bishops (those who have said they would not deny communion to a well known person who persists in manifest grave sin) bothers Archbishop Burke personally. He, as a bishop, clearly does not agree. And it may be that he has in fact said so in private conversation to them. But, it is not in his authority to insist that they change. The most he can do is make his views known and leave it at that. And, as I said above, his views are already well known among his brother bishops on this issue.
    This was very disrespectful for Terry to interview Burke on video and then use the video in a campaign against other bishops without telling Burke what he was really planning to do. Someone like Burke values honesty, and despises duplicity. That’s really the big issue here in my opinion.

  9. Excellent post, Scott. Thank you for taking the time to explain the intricacies of the entire situation. You obviously love and understand our faith very well.

  10. Scott,
    you are wrong.
    again, what Harry said above :
    “Archbishop Burke wanted his words to be an encouragement to the pro lifers, but he didn’t want this fellow bishops to hear them. In Heaven’s name, why?”

  11. Archishop Burke’s response had everything to do with Randall Terry’s deception. Randall Terry announced that his meeting with various Vatican dicasteries was to “beg” for them to remove various American Bishops. Note the transcript with Burke and see he didn’t even bring that up with him! This was all sleight of hand by Terry and then outright deception in his use of the Burke tape. Burke did the right thing is apologizing to his colleagues Wuerl and Loverde.
    I will have more on this topic Monday at the Catholic News Agency.

  12. Harry,
    You are correct….
    Do any of my Catholic leaders have any balls?
    God-Bless Randell Terry.
    Posted by: Jasper at March 27, 2009 12:12 PM
    Yes, God bless the “pro-life” leader who disowns his own children.

  13. Randall Terry arrested at Notre Dame

    Ah, gee. I frankly wish Randall Terry would go away. Most of the pro-life community has shunned him for lots of reasons. My biggie is he’s lowdown suing Troy Newman for Operation Rescue’s name, such a pathetic waste of energy…

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