Cardinal Burke - ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church

Excellent teaching from Cardinal Burke…

With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline, so that it serves to build up the Body of Christ in its first cell of life, which is marriage and the family. In other words, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document, using the key of the Magisterium as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (85-87).

The Church’s official doctrine, in fact, provides the irreplaceable interpretative key to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, so that it may truly serve the good of all the faithful, uniting them ever more closely to Christ Who alone is our salvation. There can be no opposition or contradiction between the Church’s doctrine and her pastoral practice, since, as the Catechism reminds us, doctrine is inherently pastoral:

The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates (890).

The pastoral nature of doctrine is seen, in an eloquent manner, in the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Christ Himself shows the deeply pastoral nature of the truth of the faith in his teaching on Holy Matrimony in the Gospel (Matthew 19, 3-12), in which He teaches anew the truth of God’s plan for marriage “from the beginning.”

More from cardinal Burke

Over more than 40 years of priestly life and ministry, during 21 of which I have served as a bishop, I have known numerous other couples in an irregular union for whom I or my brother priests have had pastoral care. Even though their suffering would be clear to any compassionate soul, I have seen ever more clearly over the years that the first sign of respect and love for them is to speak the truth to them with love. In that way, the Church’s teaching is not something which further wounds them but, in truth, frees them for the love of God and their neighbor.
It may be helpful to illustrate one example of the need to interpret the text of Amoris Laetitia with the key of the magisterium. There is frequent reference in the document to the “ideal” of marriage. Such a description of marriage can be misleading. It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform. But Christian marriage is not an idea; it is a sacrament which confers the grace upon a man and woman to live in faithful, permanent and procreative love of each other. Every Christian couple who validly marry receive, from the moment of their consent, the grace to live the love which they pledge to each other.

Read more:

Cardinal Burke at work! He is the best.

We need everyone to read this! God Bless the good Cardinal

God Bless Cardinal Burke, just beautiful.

There is frequent reference in the document to the “ideal” of marriage. Such a description of marriage can be misleading. It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform%between%

I appreciate the balance of the article. I see what Cardinal Burke is saying, but I see this differently. The only ones who will take this ideal this way are those who do so despite what Pope Francis says, not because of what Pope Francis says. I like the description of marriage as ideal. It brings marriage back to the level of everything else in life. The Christian life is an ideal. Sanctity is an ideal. Rather than take this as an excuse for falling short of this ideal, it must always be motivation to realize that we have work and growth ahead of us.

Holy Matrimony, as an ideal is not something that those who are sacramentally married have an those who are not do not have. No one has obtained this ideal of loving their spouse as Christ loved the Church. In the earlier part of the document, Pope Francis speaks of the need of post-marital involvement to help new couples grow in their marriage, instead of thinking that because there is a proper marriage in the Church that the couple is set and done. The ideal of marriage, like the rest of sanctity, cannot be view as a binary situation, you are, or are not, in holy (lower case) Matrimony. One should always strive for holier matrimony.

I would argue that be bringing marriage back to the same paradigm as we do the rest of our Christian life, Pope Francis may well lead us from a harmful practice of view marriage as a done deal.

It is very good and beautifully written.

AMEN and we need more like him!!! God Bless, Memaw

Thank you so much, johnnyc176. It was good to read the whole article. What a good, balanced, orthodox answer by Cardinal Burke.

The good cardinal is drawing attention to the fact that Amoris Laetitia is an Apostolic exhortation (not an encyclical etc.), that it is not part of magisterial teaching, and that it must be read and interpreted in light of Tradition.

Cardinal Burke is saying it is not part of magisterial teaching, yet I strongly assume it will be treated as such in many dioceses around the world.

I know it does not work like this, but: “Cardinal Burke for Pope!”. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you could ask Cardinal Burke, or Pope Francis, one question about the document, (or about the Cardinal’s article about it), what would you ask?

Cardinal Burke states that “the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document.” That is ridiculous.

A magisterial teaching may be solemn or ordinary. He may be correct that the document is not an exercise of the solemn magisterium, that is, that it is not an infallible teaching. However, any teaching of a pope or bishop is part of the ordinary magisterium and should be taken seriously by the faithful. It is authoritative and the faithful are to respond to such teaching with religious submission of intellect and will.

To diminish an apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis as “non-magisterial,” that is, as not an authoritative teaching to be taken seriously, is false and misleading. Church leaders like Cardinal Burke have been playing this sort of game with Vatican II, for example, for decades, in an attempt to diminish its impact on the Church. Burke is now training his sights on Pope Francis’ teaching. I realize that Burke is popular on CA, but I don’t appreciate his opposition to the Pope.

Nor I.


That is also not what he said. The way you truncated the quote is misleading.

I happen to disagree with what he actually said, by the way, as far as this document not being an act of the papal magisterium.


Further to my comments above, it would have been one thing for Cardinal Burke to say that he disagrees with what Pope Francis taught in the apostolic exhortation and to invite the faithful to join him in dissenting from authoritative papal teaching. Then we could more easily identify him as one of the dissenting Church leaders that people have been upset about under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

However, its another thing altogether for him to suggest (mistakenly) that neither he nor the faithful are under any obligation to agree with Pope Francis’ teaching, since it is “non-magisterial.” That’s underhanded. It appears that he is knowingly leading the faithful in an attempt to undercut Pope Francis.

Dissent has a legitimate place in the Church. However, it is not only liberal theologians who dissent from papal teaching. It is also (and sometimes especially) conservative cardinals and bishops who are the most vocal and influential dissenters. That was true in the aftermath of Vatican II, and it is true today.

Dan, I’ve gone back and re-read Cardinal Burke’s statement, and I believe that I’ve correctly captured what he said, even if I excerpted from a longer statement. What do you think that he said or meant?

I think everyone knows what he meant, and I think you have it right.

I think what he meant and said is pretty clear: the document, although not an act of the magisterium, is from the Pope. To him we owe reverence. We can understand and interpret the document only in light of the teaching of the Church as we can find it in, for example, the Catechism (as is always true for any statement/teaching from the hierarchy).

The way you pulled out that quote made him say that the “only” way we can correctly interpret the document is “as not an act of the magisterium.” I haven’t talked to him about it but I would bet that he would say that people can indeed correctly interpret the document as an act of the magisterium.

It is, perhaps, a minor point…but, if we are going to “ridicule” something, or set it up for ridicule, I think we should be extremely precise and accurate.


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