Note: The relevant section of the interview with Cardinal Burke begins at 14:54 in the video.
ALABAMA, December 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke has spoken publicly about remarks by Pope Francis that have been interpreted in the media to mean that the Church should focus on "essentials" rather than abortion or homosexual "marriage."
“What could be more essential than the natural moral law?” said Burke in an interview which aired yesterday on the EWTN flagship program the World Over Live.
“We can never talk enough about that as long as in our society innocent and defenceless human life is being attacked in the most savage way,” the cardinal told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo. “I mean it’s literally a massacre of the unborn.”
Arroyo told Cardinal Burke that he has received emails from priests over the last few months who relate that people are demanding they “stop talking about this abortion and the gay marriage thing” because, “the Pope explicitly said stick to essentials, that’s what we need to do.’”
Asked how he’d interpret that, Cardinal Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, responded that that the Pope "doesn't state that," admitting however that the Pope’s statements are “not altogether easy to interpret.”
The latest round of media focus relates to one paragraph within Pope Francis’ 220-page exhortation called the Gospel of Joy, released November 26, 2013. “Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed,” the document said. Rather, the message must “concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary.”
Cardinal Burke said that the “Pope can’t be saying” - or at least that Burke “can’t interpret that phrase of [the Pope] as saying” - that the Church’s truths on life and family matters “are not essentials.”
“What could be more essential than the natural moral law?” asked Burke. Speaking of abortion, gay "marriage" and contraception, he added, “these are these acts that are always and everywhere evil.” He added that “the first commands of our conscience” are “to respect human life, to respect the integrity the family and respect conscience.”
The media’s interpretation of those remarks flows from the first of Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff interviews, which was published in all Jesuit magazines and also on the Vatican website. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” Pope Francis said at the time. The pope added, “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Cardinal Burke told EWTN he wasn’t “exactly sure why” Pope Francis “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 as long as in our society innocent and defenceless human life is being attacked in the most savage way. I mean it’s literally a massacre of the unborn.”
Cardinal Burke concluded, saying, “We can never talk enough about that because if we don't get this straight, that human life, innocent defenseless human life has an inviolable dignity, how are we going to understand anything else correctly with regard to care for the sick or whatever it might be?”