A controversial conservative Catholic cardinal said in an interview that the forces of “radical feminism” have brought the once-mighty church to its knees, led to a “fluffy,” feminized view of sexuality and made way for generations of pedophile priests.
Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview with website “The New Emangelism: Drawing Men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church” that the church needs to return to its male-centered roots and stop catering to “women’s issues” in order to regain its once robust standing in the world.
Burke is the former St. Louis Cardinal who headed the Vatican’s highest court until a recent run-in with Pope Francis saw him demoted to a ceremonial position far from the church’s seat of power.
Burke has used his position in the Catholic hierarchy to harangue Democrats and endorse radical Republican politics, an ideological orientation that has been increasingly at odds with the new Pope’s more pluralistic church.
Now Burke is lashing out at what he sees as an over-feminized church that has “marginalized men.”
“I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so,” Burke told The New Emangelism (TNE) in an interview published Monday. “It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized.”
“Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church,” Cardinal Burke complained, “leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society.”
“The goodness and importance of men became very obscured,” he said, and that needs to change.
Women and their needs have not only decimated the church, he said, but the institution of marriage as well.
“I recall in the mid-1970’s, young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time,” he recalled. “These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women. These divisions between women and men have gotten worse since then.”
Worst of all, he said, the church took a “fluffy,” womanly attitude toward sexuality.
“Making things worse, there was a very fluffy, superficial kind of catechetical approach to the question of human sexuality and the nature of the marital relationship,” he said, which has led to sexual anarchy, the abundant availability of pornography, homosexuality and child sex abuse.
“The gift of human sexuality is turned into a means of self‑gratification often at the expense of another person, whether in heterosexual relations or in homosexual relations,” Burke lamented. “A man who has not been formed with a proper identity as a man and as a father figure will ultimately become very unhappy. These poorly formed men become addicted to pornography, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, and the whole gamut of addictions.”
The church itself, he said, has become “very feminized. Women are wonderful, of course. They respond very naturally to the invitation to be active in the Church. Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women. The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.”
The result, he said, is that real men have been driven away from the church and made room for pedophile priests, an era that he confidently asserts is over.
“We can also see that our seminaries are beginning to attract many strong young men who desire to serve God as priests,” he said. “The new crop of young men are manly and confident about their identity. This is a welcome development, for there was a period of time when men who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity had entered the priesthood; sadly some of these disordered men sexually abused minors; a terrible tragedy for which the Church mourns.”
Too many altar girls in churches, he said, means that boys don’t want to perform altar service anymore.
“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” he said. “The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time. I want to emphasize that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church.”
In the end, he said, “We have to be very clear with men about purity, chastity, modesty and even the way men dress and present themselves. Men’s behaviors and dress matter, for it affects how they relate to the world and it affects the culture. Men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.”
The acceptance of sin in our daily lives, Burke said, means that young men no longer come to confession. They have been taught, he said, that their bodies are not sinful and that masturbation is acceptable, placing their immortal souls in danger.
“Of course, this is lethal for men, especially young men,” Burke said. “Young men may begin to engage in the sexual sin of masturbation. Men have told me that when they were teenagers, they confessed the sin of masturbation in the confessional and priests would say, ‘Oh, that’s nothing you should be confessing. Everybody does that.’ That’s wrong.”
“These are sinful acts,” he insisted. “They need to be confessed along with other types of sins, whether the sins are foul language, lying, stealing, or whatever it might be. The denial of sin was a breakdown in the sense of what is demanded of men as men of Christ.”
To priests in their parishes, the cardinal admonished, “First of all, be manly yourself. In other words, cultivate your own manly qualities, because the priest is first and foremost the spiritual father; he is a man. You need to have manly qualities of selflessness, chivalry and discipline to avoid situations improper for a priest. A priest must have the manly confidence and credibility to be a spiritual father to his flock, giving clear firm guidance with kindness and charity.”
In his own time at the Vatican, Burke was called to account by his superiors for his lavish taste in ceremonial robes, donning a $20,000 jeweled hat for one prayer service and a cape with an elaborate 20-foot train that cost more than $30,000 for another.
Burke was Cardinal of St. Louis from 2003 to 2008, a period during which he imported predator priests into his diocese from other areas in order to shield them from investigation. According to the clergy sex-abuse survivor advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), Burke was “reckless, deceptive and callous regarding predator priests, vulnerable kids and wounded victims” during his tenure.
After he publicly challenged Pope Francis’ more tolerant approach to church relations toward LGBT people, Burke was made ceremonial chaplain of the Knights of Malta, a liturgical group mostly notable for its lack of any real power or function in the church hierarchy.
The Washington Post likened Burke’s historic fall to sending Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts “to call balls and strikes at a Little League game.”