Future Cardinal on Abuse: Every Measure Has Been Taken

But You Can Never Do Enough, Says Cardinal-Designate Burke

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ROME, NOV. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- One of the two U.S. archbishops to be made cardinals on Saturday says the Church can never do enough to prevent a recurrence of the sexual abuse crisis, and yet, every prudent measure has been taken.



Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, affirmed this in an interview with Vatican Radio on the eve of the consistory that will induct him into the College of Cardinals.

The 62-year-old prelate served as the archbishop of St. Louis and the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, before being named in 2008 as the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Asked about the Church's response to the abuse of children by clergy, the cardinal-designate said: "In one sense you can say absolutely that you can never do enough to prevent such horrible things happening -- the most grievous breech of trust between a priest, a spiritual father, and a child. [...] On the other hand, I have to say that -- and I'm not speaking about myself, but the bishops that I know in the United States and as I know the situation in general -- I believe that every prudent measure has been taken to address this evil so that it doesn't happen again. [...] The work continues, but I believe that a tremendous amount of progress has been made."

In the two-part interview, the cardinal-designate was also asked about leading the faithful in promoting the Church's moral teachings.

He responded by speaking about the "question of a person who publicly and obstinately espouses the right of a woman to choose to abort the infant in her womb receiving Holy Communion." He said this is an issue that "strikes me as something very clear."

"In the 2,000 years of the Church’s tradition, she’s always firmly held that a person who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin should not approach to receive Holy Communion and if she or he does, should be denied Holy Communion," Cardinal-designate Burke said.

“It is discouraging that either members of the Church claim not to understand this or they claim that in some way there is an excuse for someone who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin to receive Holy Communion," he added.

2,000-year challenge

Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., is the other U.S.-born on the list of 24 new cardinals.

Vatican Radio also spoke with this 69-year-old Pittsburgh-native, who spoke about "the diminishment -- the increasing diminishment of religious freedom."

"And I'm not just talking about around the world, but it's true on a global level," the cardinal-designate said. "We just saw the violence in Iraq. [...] I think that's something that we as a people, the people on this planet, need to be concerned about."

He went on to point to issues of concern for religious freedom in the United States: "We're seeing now a new writing of how freedom of conscience and freedom of religion is being interpreted. It used to be that we always made room for conscientious objection, we always made room for religious exemption. And now there are those that basically say that freedom of religion means you can worship in your house of worship, but it can't overflow and have any impact on our culture. That religious values that are woven right into the fabric of our history are no longer welcome. And I think that's something we need to be very aware of and very alert to."

Cardinal-designate Wuerl also spoke about the challenges facing the New Evangelization. He cited the Holy Father's list of three main "barriers" to preaching the Gospel, which he presented when he visited the United States in 2008.

The first, the prelate said, is secularism, "which doesn't look beyond the horizon of today. It doesn't think of our relationship with the transcendent, our relationship with God. Even though many, many of our younger people today are finding that that's an essential part of life if you are going to have a truly balanced life. You need to recognize the spiritual part of your life."

He continued: "The second is the materialism. The consumerist society that we so often brag about is a society focused on things and the accumulation of things. And that very, very much tends to limit your horizon.

"And the third is individualism. We are so caught up in the focus on ourselves, our rights, our needs, that we tend not to pay a lot of attention to our interdependence with the people around us, the community, the common good. And in the Church -- the whole idea that there would be a magisterium that calls you to action around absolute principles and faith commitment.

"So all of that is the context. And I think that is the great challenge of the Church today. How do you preach Jesus risen and present in this secular, material, individualistic world? How do you help someone understand that you can actually encounter the risen Christ and have a living relationship with God? That, that's our challenge. That's our task. But it's been that way for 2,000 years."