Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court – the Apostolic Signatura – has given a lengthy televised interview in which he decisively rectifies the false notions about Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge” quote that has been used frequently to suggest a change in Church teaching on the matter of homosexuality.
Host Thomas McKenna of Catholic Action Insight questioned Cardinal Burke about instances where people must make judgments in light of Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge” phrase.
“We have to judge acts, we have to,” Cardinal Burke replied. “All day long we make judgments with regards to certain acts; this is what the natural law is: to choose good and to avoid evil.”
The Vatican cardinal added that while we can judge acts as gravely sinful we can’t say that a particular person is in grave sin, since “perhaps you are committing them without even knowing that they are gravely sinful, or perhaps you are committing them without fully consenting, who knows?”“That kind of judgment is a part, but the acts themselves we have to judge, we couldn’t live a good and moral life otherwise,” he added.
McKenna followed up by noting that it would be wrong to interpret the pope’s phrase to indicate support for homosexual “marriage,” and Burke agreed.
The cardinal then addressed the hot button topic of tolerance and intolerance at the heart of the debate.
“I’m not intolerant of people of same-sex attraction,” he said. “I have great compassion for them and especially in our society today where many young people are led into the same-sex activity where they might not have been in the past because of complete relaxation of morals and a corruption.”
“I have great compassion for them but that compassion means that I want them to know the truth to avoid sinful acts for the sake of their own good for their own salvation and so you try to help the person,” he added. “Now that today isn’t well received by an aggressive homosexual agenda but that doesn’t mean that it’s not the right approach to take.”
Cardinal Burke warned that should we remain silent due to pressure from the aggressive homosexual agenda, we would be “presiding over the destruction of our society.”
For Cardinal Burke the approach is not only theoretical but also practical. He related that after a confirmation Mass a mother approached him angrily accusing him of calling her daughter evil. When he asked to what she was referring she spoke of columns he wrote in the diocesan paper about the traditional definition of marriage. Her daughter, she said, was “married” to another woman.
Cardinal Burke relates his response to the angry mother: “’No’, I said, ‘the acts which your daughter is committing are evil. Your daughter is not evil, but she needs to come to understand the truth about her situation.’”
The head of the Apostolic Signatura said there is much misunderstanding about the matter today “and sadly it leads to a lot of good people not doing what they should do, to help someone who is suffering in this condition.”