Pope reportedly confirms he is taking away Burke’s apartment, denies calling him his ‘enemy’

The facade of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s Vatican apartment. / Credit: Elizabeth Alva/EWTN

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 29, 2023 / 17:31 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis reportedly has confirmed that he plans to take away Cardinal Raymond Burke’s Vatican apartment and salary but denied that he referred to the American prelate as his “enemy,” according to a web post by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh.

The pope reportedly announced at a meeting of Vatican heads on Nov. 20 that he intended to take action against Burke, who has publicly criticized some papal initiatives, according to the Italian Catholic news blog La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, which first reported the news on Nov. 27.

The Associated Press later confirmed the report based on conversations with two anonymous sources.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Burke said he has not been informed of the pope’s intention to take away his apartment and salary.

“People can draw their own conclusions about why the Holy Father told this to Austen Ivereigh and not the person concerned,” Burke said. He told the outlet that he intends to stay in Rome even if he is forced to find somewhere else to live.

“It’s my duty as a cardinal to remain in Rome,” he said.

Pope Francis removed Burke from the post of prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest judicial authority in the Church) in 2014 and instead appointed him cardinal patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a mostly ceremonial role dedicated to the spiritual welfare of the members of the order. He remained patron until this year but had held only the title, having been reportedly restricted from active involvement since 2016 and thus sidelined during the extensive institutional reforms of the order over the last years.

In an article that was highly critical of Burke published on the website Where Peter Is, Ivereigh wrote that Pope Francis confirmed to him that he plans to take away Burke’s apartment and salary.

“I met with Pope Francis on the afternoon of November 27th. It was a short meeting because of his lung inflammation, which meant it took him some effort to speak. (The following evening his trip to Dubai was canceled because it had not improved enough.) In the course of our conversation, Francis told me he had decided to remove Cardinal Burke’s cardinal privileges — his apartment and salary — because he had been using those privileges against the Church,” Ivereigh wrote.

“He told me that while the decision wasn’t a secret, he didn’t intend a public announcement but earlier that day (Monday) it had been leaked,” he wrote.

Ivereigh is the author of two hagiographic biographies of Pope Francis and co-authored the 2020 book “Let Us Dream: A Path to a Better Future” with the Holy Father. He also holds a key advisory position in the current Synod on Synodality.

Ivereigh wrote that the pope said, contrary to some media reports, that he did not refer to Burke as his “enemy.”

According to the La Nuova Bussola Quotidian’s unnamed Vatican source, Pope Francis told the meeting of Vatican department heads on Nov. 20: “Cardinal Burke is my enemy, so I take away his apartment and his salary.”

In his web post, Ivereigh wrote that he doubted the veracity of that report, saying: “I knew this quote was pure fiction. Pope Francis would never conduct a personal vendetta. It was conveniently in line with the traditionalist narrative of a merciless, vindictive pope who recklessly and unreasonably ‘punishes’ those who disagree with him.”

Ivereigh said he “wrote Pope Francis a note alerting him to this quote and offering to correct it with the truth as he had put it to me” and received a clear denial from the Holy Father.

“On Tuesday evening I had a note back from the pope. ‘I never used the word “enemy” nor the pronoun “my.” I simply announced the fact at the meeting of the dicastery heads, without giving specific explanations,’” Ivereigh wrote.

CNA reached out to the Vatican press office to confirm Ivereigh’s report but did not receive a response by time of publication.

The papal biographer has been a frequent critic of Burke, who had publicly voiced his concerns about the Synod on Synodality’s threat to Church doctrine.

In a recent post on the social media platform X, Ivereigh compared the cardinal to Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre, who founded the Priestly Society of St. Pius X and was excommunicated for ordaining priests without Vatican approval.

Ivereigh wrote: “Burke’s claim to be on the true branch while the tree goes its own way was the justification of Abp. Lefebvre, who led a schism following Vatican II. Just as Lefebvre rejected collegiality then, Burke rejects synodality now, despite both being authentic Church developments.”

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