On September 8, the same day that Pope Francis introduced new procedures to speed up the annulment process, Cardinal Raymond Burke told an audience at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio that marriage is under “diabolical attack” by both modern culture and church insiders. Burke – former Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court – is revered as one of the world’s leading experts on canon law.
Burke said that while secular culture plays a big factor in the breakdown of marriage, a similar attack was coming from within the walls of the church itself.
Burke insisted that the desire to ease the annulment process or welcome the divorced to Communion was based on “sentimentalism or false compassion.”
In the runup to the synod, he said, some have argued that the church “must update practice and language to effectively address a secularized culture,” and added that this included a desire for the church to drop terms such as “intrinsically disordered” to describe LGBT individuals. “The church,” declared Burke, “has to call things by their proper name in order not to risk contributing to confusion and error.”
Burke noted that “distorted sexual activity” and “false ideas” about male and female identity showed the need for a “new evangelization about the distinct gifts of man and woman.” Any marriage that is not “exclusive, permanent and open to life,” according to Burke, “is not a true marriage.”
He added that “even in the church there are those who in the name of tolerance would remain silent about the attack on the validity of marriage.”
“The synod fathers,” Burke continued, referring to the hundreds of bishops who will debate such matters for three weeks in October, “must be ready to suffer to honor and foster holy matrimony.” He said that he will “resist” liberal changes to the church. He named several saints who had been “martyrs for marriage,” and suggested that the synod fathers pray to these saints “before the confusion and error that Satan is sowing in society and the church.” ∎