Mystery surrounds the unexpected withdrawal of Cardinal Raymond Burke as the main speaker at a conference organised by Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice at Westminster Central Hall on June 18.
The Faith of our Fathers conferences, which began in 1996, have traditionally attracted high-profile speakers such as Mother Angela, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network. As prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Burke oversees the administration of justice in the Church. He was to have spoken on “The Restoration of Church Discipline and Evangelisation”. He has long been seen as one of the most outspoken US bishops and, since his elevation to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict last November, is one of the highest-placed officials at the Vatican.
Daphne McLeod, chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, said that Cardinal Burke had been informed by “several devout and faithful people” that his speaking at the conference would be divisive because Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice “are too outspoken and don’t have respect for the bishops”.
“We’re whistle-blowers, and we have enemies,” she said.
She would not say who she thought had issued this warning, but said the impression was given that if the cardinal speaks, “because he’s so close to the Pope it’ll look as if he’s speaking for the Pope and attacking the bishops – which is crazy”, she said.
Cardinal Burke came to prominence outside the Church during the 2004 American presidential elections, when he publicly stated that Democratic candidate John Kerry and other Catholic politicians who supported legalised abortion should not be allowed to receive the Eucharist.