The campaign of insults and name calling against Cardinal Raymond Burke continued over Christmas in so-called "progressive" Catholic publications. Since Cardinal Burke, and the other cardinals, released the dubia to the people of God in November, they have been subjected to a campaign of personal attacks and insults.
On Christmas Day the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger published an interview with the former Franciscan priest, Brazilian Leonardo Boff, that attacked Cardinal Burke. Boff mocked Cardinal Burke as the "Donald Trump of the Catholic Church," adding that unlike Donald Trump, "Burke has now been 'sidelined' in the Roman Curia." (Boff is a proponent of Marxist Liberation Theology, and in such socialist circles President-elect Donald Trump is a hate figure.) Boff went on to express outrage at the cardinals submitting the dubia, saying that it was "an affront that a pope cannot tolerate":
"The way Burke has behaved is unusual, although not absolutely unprecedented in the course of church history," Boff said. "One can criticize the pope and argue with him. I have done so myself often enough. But for cardinals to publicly accuse the pope of disseminating erroneous theology, let alone heresy, is too much. That is an affront that a pope cannot tolerate."
On December 28, John L. Allen's Crux Now website posted an article by David Gibson, of the left-wing website Religion News Service, about Pope Francis' close confidant Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J. During the article Gibson referred to Cardinal Burke as "a chief papal gadfly":
The attacks on Francis over Amoris Laetitia mounted along with conservative frustration, and in November four leading conservative cardinals — including the Rome-based U.S. Churchman Cardinal Raymond Burke, a chief papal gadfly — finally released a letter demanding that Francis answer five yes-or-no questions, known in Latin as dubia.
The campaign of insults and invective against Cardinal Burke, and the other dubia cardinals, commenced the moment they went public about the dubia following Pope Francis' decision not to respond to their questions about Amoris Laetitia. On the day the dubia was published, Fr. Spadaro commenced to post a series of tweets criticizing those who questioned Amoris Laetitia and Pope Francis. Since then, a number of clergy have given interviews and addresses mocking the dubia and personally attacking the four cardinals in a manner that suggests to some that they were acting as part of a co-ordinated campaign.
Edward Pentin, the respected Vatican journalist for EWTN's National Catholic Register, has also written about a co-ordinated campaign against the four cardinals. He reports that reliable sources claim Pope Francis has asked close associates to criticize those who question Amoris Laetitia:
Edward Pentin further explained the seriousness of the campaign against the four cardinals in his interview with Regina Magazine:
The Pope's reaction, of going so far as to question the cardinals' mental state, has been read as a manifestation of his own anger at having his agenda taken off course. And instead of taking the four cardinals at their word (they have said they are acting primarily out of charity towards the Holy Father, justice and deep pastoral concern), they are seen as adversaries. I understand he has also been working behind the scenes to ensure his agenda is not thwarted. From strategically placed articles in L’Osservatore Romano to equivocations from those who publicly criticized the Dubia when asked if the Pope had asked them to do so, Francis has been acting, as one observer put it, like a "behind-the-scenes political lobbyist." In the three weeks after the dubia were published, the Pope gave three interviews to the world's media, each of them aimed at legitimizing his position while denigrating his critics.
Lastly, it's important to point out that simply by matching facts with words coming from the Pope and his allies, it's clear there is significant lying and deceit taking place, as well as calumnies and the besmirching of reputations of those labeled to be "on the right" just because they are publicly critical of Amoris Laetitia, or merely report on such criticism. It genuinely pains me to say all this, because as a Catholic journalist one doesn't wish in any way to diminish the Petrine Office, but I feel I have an obligation to report the facts on what is happening.
It is a sad reflection on the state of the Church that the campaign of personal attacks and insults against Cardinal Burke did not cease over the holy season of Christmas. You cannot but wonder that their focus was on insulting Cardinal Burke, than on the profound mystery of the Incarnation of the Christ Child.
Originally published at EWTN-Great Britain.