In a recent interview reprinted in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly, Cardinal Burke was asked, “[I]t is shocking how quickly things happened in Minnesota. A year ago it seemed almost certain that a November ballot referendum would constitutionally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Despite a heroic effort by Archbishop John Nienstadt and many other Church leaders, it failed. Joust four months later a law was enacted making Minnesota the 12th state to legalize so-called same-sex marriage. How did we get to this point? Aside from prayer and fasting, what can the faithful do?”
Cardinal Burke said, “First of all, I would underline the need for much prayer and fasting. The alarming rapidity of the realization of the homosexual agenda ought to awaken all of us and frighten us with regard to the future of our nation.”
He continued, “How did we get to this point? The fact that these kinds of ‘arrangements’ are made legal is a manifestation of a culture of death, of an anti-life and anti-family culture which has existed in our nation now for some time. …”
The cardinal, who was archbishop of St. Louis (2003-08) and bishop of the diocese of LaCrosse (1994-2003), said that a parallel problem is a misunderstanding of “tolerance,” in that many people now believe that tolerance means accepting what is morally wrong.
It has developed over the years into a view that “we should tolerate other people in their immoral actions to the extent that we seem also to accept the moral wrong,” said Cardinal Burke. But while we must love the individual person, we must also reject immoral actions, he said, “because they are contrary to nature itself as God has created us.”
“The virtue of charity leads us to be kind and understanding to the individual, but also to be firm and steadfast in opposing the evil itself,” said the cardinal. “This confusion is widespread. I have encountered it many times myself as a priest and bishop. It is something we simply need to address. There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”
Cardinal Burke is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the highest court at the Vatican, which handles cases and issues dealing with the moral and administrative teaching of the Catholic Church.