Pope Francis Removes U.S. Cardinal Popular with Conservatives from Powerful Vatican Position

francis-thumbs-upYou can bet this is going to get a reaction from quite a few conservatives.  Pope Francis has removed U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, popular with many conservatives for his outspoken stance against abortion and same-sex marriage, from a powerful position within the Vatican.

Cardinal Burke was taken off the Congregation for Bishops, which is the group most responsible for deciding who becomes a bishop in the future.  He is being replaced by the far more moderate Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington.  With this move, it’s a clear sign that Pope Francis wants a change in the ideological base with which the church chooses its Bishops.

This seems to be yet another step the Pope has taken to move the Catholic Church toward a more accepting platform of religious tolerance.  It’s been clear from the get-go that Pope Francis had a goal to change the environment within the Vatican.  An environment that had driven many away from the Catholic Church in recent years.

What might have done Cardinal Burke in was his recent comments where he questioned Pope Francis’ speaking about the church lessening its focus on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage:

“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media, that he thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman.  But we can never talk enough about that.”

Well, you can’t get enough of that if you’re a right-wing American conservative who obsesses about such issues as a way to manipulate millions of people.

Burke had also argued in the past that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be denied communion.

I think moves such as these are clear signs that Pope Francis is trying to break away from many of the outdated beliefs that the Catholic Church had been holding onto; instead embracing a more inclusive style of church that actually acts in a manner more reflective of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

You know, what Christians are supposed to do in the first place.

While the Catholic Church still has a long way to go — and I’m sure Pope Francis will face many obstacles along the way — I can honestly say I’ve never been more encouraged by what I’m seeing from a Pope.  It’s inspiring to see such a powerful religious leader who just seems to “get it” when it comes to Christianity.

For far too long we’ve seen “Christian” leaders use their positions to push their own selfish benefits or agendas.

And even though I’m not Catholic, I salute Pope Francis for his efforts to finally change many of the outdated and hypocritical practices that have plagued the Catholic Church.

For the first time — ever — I’m actually excited to see what the Pope will do next.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Lori

    I agree. I’ve never been really impressed with any Pope in the past. This one however is impressing me with his simplicity. He believes in the love taught in the bible and realizes it’s an ancient book that may not be 100% applicable in this day and age. I too am excited to see how his leadership goes.

    • Erika Frensley

      I think he knows that the spirit of the bible is applicable, but the exact words (translated over the millenia) may not be 100% applicable in this day and age. A pope that truly understands that the spirit is greater than the text as written by fallible (and for some, very fallible) men. I’m not a Catholic, but I’m very pleased by his approach.

      • udicks

        if frank keeps this up , I might go back to church. im afraid what happen to the last pope that tried to shake up the catholic church, might happen to this pope.. it was not a happy ending.

      • Terri Hemker

        Yes, Pope John Paul I. I am so worried this Pope will end up the same way. I pray for his safety!

  • Brandon

    Now to get rid of Timothy Dolan.

    • Shane Lees

      Oh that guy. Didn’t he debate Hitchens?

    • RRuin

      Dolan is vile.

  • Jeff Mitcler

    there are those who believe in the literal return of Jesus, and there are those who believe Jesus will return in Spirit. This may be the guy….?

    • Judith_Priest

      IMO, Jesus will return in Spirit … manifesting in MANY people, all around the same time, like a REAL revival, not just some trumped-up manipulation, like too many Fundamentalist “Revival” publicity stunts.

    • hanntonn

      The Gospel doesn’t say that Jesus will come back to live among us like any other man. It says that he will return only when he will judge the living and the dead. Like a lightning everyone will see him at once all over the universe, because everyone will be dead and resurrected in an instant. This is why the Gospel says that if someone tells you that Jesus is in the desert or in another place, do not go there because when he will come, everyone will see him at the same time in his full glory.

    • dominickJ

      Well that did make a good story.

    • AshburnStadium

      Unfortunately, I see the right-wing painting Francis as the third Antichrist predicted by Nostradamus, as that person was depicted as pretending to be a holy man.

      • BereaBrave

        I thought that was Jerry Falwell.

  • David Videla

    It’s because he’s from Argentina 🙂 sorry had to say it

    • sherry06053

      You shouldn’t be sorry – you are probably right. Europeans and Americans are so cold hearted. Someone from the southern hemisphere is more in tune with the people who are more emotional. I am not a Catholic, or even a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire the leader of many people. Way to go Francis!

    • Erika Frensley

      You may be right. South America (and Argentina in particular) have had to deal with many social and economic revolutions than many European countries. As such, he understands that people support institutions, and in return, institutions should support people, not rule them.

  • Kogi

    I can hardly wait ’till this Pope shows up on Wallstreet and the U.S. Congress with a whip and scourge to drive the evil ones from their seats of power. A Loving, Compassionate Pope…addressing the needs of those IN NEED. ‘Here open the Gates of Heaven’
    …and I’m a non-christian Native American. Bless this man.

    • I Kung Fu You

      He is a breath of fresh air in a place that was beginning to smell pretty putrid.

  • Robert William Alexander Jr.

    I’m old enough to remember Pope John and the Vatican Two council..maybe the reform forces will resist the backlash from the right..

  • Buddy Pinkham

    I have always said, I am a recovering Catholic, if Pope Francis keeps this up, I just might start going to Mass again 🙂

    • LindsayCA

      Well written!

    • Bookwench

      I agree..I’ve always referred to myself as a lapsed Catholic, but that might change now….solely because of this Pope

    • dominickJ

      Well to be on the safe side attend the Ecumenical Catholic Church. THEY are OPEN AND AFFIRMING!!!

  • emeraldeyes24

    Under this TOP POP, the Church is finally evolving … as the song goes ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose…”

    • lapdog26

      this is actually from the “bible”

      Ecclesiastes 3

  • Richard Smothers

    I love that, in the case of the Catholic Church, the Pope is able to make these decisions and changes unilaterally, without being stonewalled by a representative body.

    • John Adney

      the flipside of course is that whatever he can do, his successor can undo just as quickly.

      • thomann213

        Not to mention the huge bureaucracy with its own vested interests in much of the status quo.

      • Margaret Sturman

        His successor might try, but it’s kind of difficult to undo certain things. When you have a Pope who truly represents Christ’s teachings , trying to reverse that may turn out to be an abysmal failure. I wish him all he best.

      • dominickJ

        It depends on HOW long this Pope remains Pope. Change comes with resistance BUT happens when people get used to it…TIME is on the side of this Pope!

      • AshburnStadium

        Hopefully, Francis won’t suffer the same fate as John Paul I, who came in with the intention of modernizing the Catholic church, but was dead within a month. Some people think that he was murdered.

    • Brad Prickett

      Are you espousing a return to a monarchy?

      • Rhylanor

        Sure why not? As a US/UK citizen it would finally allow my master plan to come to fruition. :). That aside there are some upsides to having a benevolent dictator.

      • John Adney

        and undoubtedly some downsides to having a malevolent dictator, and the latter is more common.

  • Brad Prickett

    Fascinating how everything from and about the Pope lately is so centered on the US. Although I’m thrilled that he seems to be at least subconsciously focused on repairing as much right-wing damage as he can, I can’t help but wonder if his stance on the woes of the rest of the world can hold a candle to his stance on American idiocy. I guess if the Pope, the “ruler” of Catholics world-wide, focuses just on the issues (be they Catholic or secular) of this one country, it really shows just how broken we are.

    • LindsayCA

      We are broken, but it also ties in with what everyone else was mentioning…he’s from Argentina, and you know how much of an influence the U.S. is to everything in the south.

  • LindsayCA

    I used to be catholic, don’t consider myself anything just ride on Christian beliefs, but this pope is actually impressing me as of late, and i hope he changes allot of things! Maybe might change the way some people look at me cuz you see, i have many gay friends and i live in a small town, so you get where I’m at, lol.

    • BereaBrave

      I am not Catholic, but I do appreciate they give a woman (Mary) prominence in their faith. The other Christian sects have marginalized women or totally removed them from their texts.

  • Scott Bland

    I’ll keep banging this drum – Pope Francis wants to make Pope John Paul II a saint. He wants to make a man that contributed to taking child molesting priests and moving them to new crops of victims rather than turning them over to the police a saint. He wants to make a man who could only say “this is unfortunate” when decades of sexual abuse finally made world news a saint. No matter what else he does, this action makes this man a scumbag.

    • Ren

      One could just as easily blame the politicians here in the US who refused to pass laws that would of more comprehensively prosecuted such priests and protected the children…. or blamed the people in the communities that didn’t see it coming…. or even blame the presidents that were in office when it happened… Are you ready to start blaming Jimmy Carter? Better yet lets hold CEOs responsible when an employee steals from a cash register. Blame the german people for allowing the Holocaust to happen…..After WW2 we knew better than to do that, we didn’t blame the footsoldiers, we didn’t blame the Generals, we put the blame where it belonged, on the ones actively issuing the orders to kill.. The blame goes on the priests who did the crimes, and those who were on actively making it all possible. Also keep in mind, the pope has to manage the entire world, and a lot of these abuse cases are still allegations after all these years.. Should we blame Obama for not making sure these cases were investigated yet? The Vatican isn’t Law and Order:SVU they’re mere civilians in the ever ongoing war on crime, before the last century they never even saw a need for a set of rules dictating procedure under such circumstances until now. The United States alone has barely begun to scratch the surface of all the sexual abuse that goes on in this country. This is a world full of finite flawed people, most of whom are in over their heads, It would be best to hold people accountable for what they do, not for what they don’t do… otherwise we will never have any hope of stopping the criminals if we’re stuck jumping at our own shadows over who didn’t do something.

      • Ankynan

        I mostly agree with what you say, but we do need to be accountable for our “sins of omission”, too. I do not hold Francis responsible for immediately “fixing” all wrongs ever done, magically, instantaneously. That would be an impossibly unrealistic expectation, yet I see many who seem to hold it.

      • Scott Bland

        You make way too many leaps here. Pope JP 2 was part of a group that moved child rapists to new crops of victims. He knew about it happening, and did nothing. This man is supposed to be God’s voice on earth, and all he said was “this is unfortunate.” When church leadership met and it was proposed that raping a child is a one strike and you’re out situation, they voted it down.

        Your comparisons are pretty much all invalid. Blame the politicians for not passing laws? There are suitable laws in place, but you can’t enforce them when the church hides the criminal and terrorizes the family with threats of excommunication if they cooperate with the police.

        The rest of your statements are frantic hyperbole rather than reasoned thought, and do not deserve a response.

    • tinkr55

      Every Pope is presented for beatification, the first step to becoming a saint, simply because they were pope. Dogma teaches that only the holiest of men are chosen, and that the Holy Spirit guides the Cardinals when the vote for a new pope is taken . If Pope Francis did NOT present his predecessor for beatification, it would be the first time, to my knowledge, that a deceased pope was overlooked. I do understand your anger at this situation, and agree that, in this case, sainthood is not deserved. But, sainthood was also not deserved by Pius X, who collaborated with Hitler during WWII. He also denied refuge in Vatican City to the Jews in Italy trying to escape from the Nazi’s.

      • 18patrioticfamily22

        I think you refer to Pius Xii THOUGH he did NOT collaborate and DID give Vatican City over to Jews, as photos show. Even sleeping on the stairs. Chief Rabbi of Rome was so impressed he converted & took Pius’s ‘name, Eugenio, as his baptismal name.Pius X was dead before Nazis.

  • Michelle Marshall

    I left the Catholic faith years ago due to the thinkings of many of the “traditional” teachings of man-woman marriages and what a woman can do to her body. Pope Francis DOES GET IT!!! I love him! He would be the MAIN reason I’d go back to the faith I abandoned years ago! Cannot wait to see what he does next! <3

  • An Agnostic

    I’m an Agnostic, which for those who do not know means I believe there is a God but do not believe anyone can know what God really is, let alone speak for God. But even as an Agnostic I can see without a Pope like this one willing to modernize, the RCC will eventually dry up and fade away within a few generations. I mean come on, if flock fleecing Televangelists and spaced out Scientologists can attract worshippers away from mainstream religions what future do they have in a modern world when no longer allowed to torture and kill disbelievers.

    • DW

      What happens if Francis’ successor holds different or opposing views as Francis? It seems the Papacy does nothing but hold the Church subject to the whims of one man since one man can make or break the Church.

      • tinkr55

        According to Catholic Church Doctrine, the Pope is infallible when making decisions regarding matters of the church. This Pope is trying to make the church more inclusive for all people. The exclusiveness of previous popes has led to a mass exodus of Catholics around the world. I think we will de many fallen away Catholics returning to the church, myself included…

  • Misha

    This article is a lie. Obviously, you don’t have not idea about the Catholic faith. You don’t know how the Magisterium of the Church functions. Find the article:

    “Reality check: Burke’s star will shine on” web site Catholic vote org

    • Mo Reno

      We can, however, spot a deluded fan-boy when we see one.

  • Cutiepie

    I’m very happy with Pope Francis’ preferential treatment for the poor and vulnerable and his emphasis on love and caring for our brothers and sisters, regardless of sexual orientation. He won’t change dogma overnight, women in the church will remain second citizens, etc. But I’m hoping his actions show American Catholics especially that most churches or priests around the world (I’m from the UK) don’t spend an awful lot of time on gay marriage or abortion.

  • John

    I agree with what the pope is doing, however I do disagree with you. The church itself will never step away from these views, what he’s trying to do is focus more on loving each other and helping the ones who are truly in need.

    • In The News

      Someone once explained to me that change in the church is like a slinky going down the stairs. It starts with a step and then the rest has to follow. While we are moving forward there are many still on the last step and we have to be patient for them to catch up. This Pope has the courage to take the initial steps. Broad strokes to get everyone to follow. Once the momentum is there the movement will be more fully realized.

  • BlueAlliance

    Bravo…. Pope Francis, bravo!

  • I must say, although not a follower of organized religion, I find the Pope’s actions speaking louder than the words he uses. I really do find myself looking forward to what he says and does, he is certainly inspirational in what he is trying to accomplish with the church and those that would follow.

    • vIRGO155

      Chica, how are you?

      • sup sup girl, Merry Christmas…good to see you!!!

  • Tina Ferguson-Davis

    I am so tired of reading that religion needs to move to a more tolerant stance and that it is outdated. Why is it that we have to change our stance? Our “freedom” to believe the way we want to believe is being dismantled now from the inside out. After all, if the Pope is changing the church from being conservative to being liberal, then he might as well say anything goes. There is no more sin. Don’t worry about what the bible says, if the Pope declares it, it must be so. Being loving and compassionate is wonderful, but to declare the bible and the words of the Lord obsolete, really???

    • mat

      I agree with you. Although he doesn’t declare the bible obsolete and he didnt change the churches teachings . He has said: the teaching is clear. … But still it is troublesome that he replaces cardinal Burke, ..and wants to decentralise the church and leave more responsibilities to the bisschops conferences. The central power of the vatican has been a stronghold against heresy .Bisschops conferences are not always so strong. ..or not at all.

      • Tina Ferguson-Davis

        Admittedly, the Pope did not declare the Bible or the Lord’s words obsolete, but that is what I feel is happening with these types of decisions he is making. To those who voted negative to my post, let’s just watch and see what other changes he makes.
        Would be nice for a pedophile to go to jail instead of just moved to another location after a settlement is made. We will see if he does something about that, too.

  • Brian

    Time for Vatican III, huh?

    • tinkr55

      Long past time, very long past time…

  • Steven Corry

    What about that dickhead joke of a man Donahue always on Faux News as the catholic churches representative?If he gets rid of him,I will give him major kudos

  • Rick Heath

    Don’t worry guys, the conservative propaganda lie machine has not even warmed up on this just yet. By this time next year Fox/Beck/Hannity/ Limbaugh/Savage/Jones and their disgusting ilk will have many of you believing that this pope is the anti-Christ. I wish I was joking.

    • AshburnStadium

      I just posted the same thing above, not yet seeing your comment.

  • Kur

    Now if this one can just be kept alive there will be some great changes that come to the Church. There is a history of radical popes being “done away with”
    John Paul I comes to mind right off the bat…..

    • Ellen H.

      I’ve had that same thought. I hope nothing happens to him.

    • tinkr55

      I love that he refuses to live in the opulent Vatican apartment, that was renovated for his predecessor, he of the custom made red shoes. By living on his own, either in a small hotel or cabin, it gives his underlings, who may disagree with his methods, less access to him. This man is truly a “Pope of the People.” John Paul I planned to open the Vatican Bank books, elevate women in the church, and liquidate many of the churches’ holdings. It only took a month for him to be found dead of “natural” causes…

  • muzyqman

    Perhaps the Pope is merely recognizing the difference between marriage (a civil act requiring a license from the local civil authority but no church sanction) and Holy Matrimony, a religious sacrament/rite that puts the religious entity’s approval on the civil position.

  • Justice79

    Sounds to me that this man isn’t trying to undermine or change the teachings or beliefs of the Catholic church. It sounds to me that the man is trying to teach Catholics to be more tolerant and accepting of people that are not exactly like them. He’s not making the church “more liberal”, he’s trying to make it more accepting of the world the way it is, diverse. Its about time that everyone stops trying to be right and prove everyone else wrong. How about just being human? Believe how you want to believe, do what you believe is right for you, and let others do the same for themselves.

  • dominickJ

    He vowed he’d shake things up if the Cardinals and Bishops didn’t tow the mark he created when he came aboard!!! LONG LIVE this Pope!

  • FastMovingCloud

    How long do we think it will be before we find out that Cardinal Burke has a secret male partner? Usually, those who make the most noise about the “sanctity of marriage’ and the ‘one man, one woman’ crap end up being found to be deeply in the closet.

  • tman

    Papa Francis is awesome. But the thing is, he isn’t going to change the teachings of the Church, he’s just truly living out the teachings in the right way. He won’t change the catechism.

  • Kathy Mack

    If you are going to write about the royalty of the Catholic Church, please use the correct titles: Raymond Cardinal Burke and Donald Cardinal Wuerl. Thank you.

  • FD Brian

    I find it refreshing that we have a Pope who is concerned about something that affects many more people than homosexuality and abortion and trying to concentrate their efforts on a vast amount of poor and needy people throughout the world.

  • Dana

    I have a request for liberal writers. Can we please stop referring to offensive beliefs as “outdated”? The term is not even relevant to the issue. I don’t care what year it is, you can still die of sepsis if you have to get an illegal abortion. Being enslaved hurts just as much. Someone beating you to death for being gay would have made you just as dead in 1813 as it does in 2013.

    It’s for that reason that I also have trouble with the term “progressive.” We only adopted it so we wouldn’t have to call ourselves “liberal”, which the Right has done their level best to make politically unpalatable. But it’s not like the entire human species started out being cruel to one another and have gradually become nicer and nicer as time has worn on. In fact, in some cultures we have gone entirely the other direction. There is no monolithic “we” that have progressed from being “backwards” to being more “forward thinking,” and this metaphor is not at all useful for assessing where we are now and what more we need to do politically to achieve a just society.

    A species with no huge canines, no claws, and not a lot of physical strength had to, by necessity, work together at least with members of its own family group in order to stay alive. I would argue that being decent to one another is the actual default state of the human species because we would not have survived without it. Even being smart can only get you so far when there is no one to help you and you don’t have high, complex technology to shield you (rightly or wrongly) from nature.

    We even had more acceptance of homosexuality and abortion once upon a time. Us moving away from that was not an artifact of antiquity but one of politics. Gay people were considered “two-spirit” in many, if not all, tribal cultures and important to the cultural and spiritual life of the people. Family planning and child-spacing were also considered vital. The so-called Christian stance on these issues is an anomaly, not the norm.

  • Linda Warren

    Why the Morman ads during this article ? One featured a black–the other appeared to be Asian . It was so funny I couldn’t concentrate .
    In other news , D. Issa is planning a roadshow to investigate how conservative Catholics feel about their Pope & whether they want him impeached . I must have some notable person impeached & Obama refuses to cooperate by doing something impeachable moaned Issa .

  • L

    He won’t actually change any core beliefs. He is speaking of loving people, not condoning everything they do. Sometimes, it seems, we want a religion that conforms to our beliefs rather than a religion that has beliefs we need to conform to. But, we don’t get to decide. I am a faithful Catholic. I love this Pope, just as I loved the last two. He’s doing things differently, in the way things run, but he really won’t change any core beliefs. Really.

  • L Garou

    Pope Platitude I