His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke

Keeping the Faith

The Way of Healing Reform of the Church for the Salvation of the World:

It pleases me very much to participate in the annual Catholic Voice Conference on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the publication of Catholic Voice. Catholic Voice has been a particularly faithful and efficacious agent of a new evangelization, of a new presentation of the Catholic faith, in an age of ever greater secularization. Through publications and conferences, like the annual conference, Catholic Voice provides a forum in which we can be educated more deeply in the truths of the Catholic faith and understand more clearly how to live the truths of the Catholic faith in our daily lives. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Anthony and Kim Murphy for the foundation of Catholic Voice, some ten years ago, and for its continuous operation over these past ten years. My presentation today is intended to honor Catholic Voice on its anniversary and to express the hope that it may continue for many years as a labor of love for Our Lord and for His Bride, the Church.

Without doubt, the Church is presently experiencing one of the most serious crises that she has ever known. Today, as perhaps in no other period in the past, there is a highly diffuse phenomenon of general confusion and error within the Mystical Body of Christ. In the past, there have been most serious doctrinal crises, for example, the heresy of Arianism in the Fourth Century, which denied the Hypostatic Union, that is, the truth of the two natures – human and divine – in the one divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Also, if at that time the heresy was quite widespread and if, from time to time the See of Peter was less firm than it should have been, in the end, Rome, certainly thanks to the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, held steadfast in the uninterrupted transmission of the Faith from the time of the Apostles. Today, however, in a sea of confusion regarding many truths of the Faith, there is the strong perception that Rome herself is no longer secure and firm.

To confront the gravity of the situation, on May 31st of this year, Cardinal Janis Pujats and I, together with Archbishops Tomash Peta and Jan Pawel Lenga, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, published the Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time[1]. With the document in question, referring to the Depositum Fidei, the Deposit of Faith, we have wanted to provide “[a] common voice of the Shepherds and the faithful through a precise declaration of the truths” as an “efficient means of fraternal and filial aid for the Supreme Pontiff in the current extraordinary situation of a general doctrinal confusion and disorientation in the life of the Church.”[2] One of the most alarming manifestations of the confusion and even error that are widespread in the Church today was the Working Document (the Instrumentum Laboris) for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon.[3] While the Synod of Bishops, according to the constant disciplinary tradition of the Church, exists to aid the Roman Pontiff in teaching more effectively the perennial truths of the faith and in applying more efficaciously the discipline which safeguards the truths in practice, the Special Assembly which concluded on this past October 27th was presented as a means for the radical change of ecclesial doctrine and discipline. The text of the Instrumentum Laboris is full of affirmations that have nothing to do with sound doctrine and, in many respects, contradict it.

That is not just my opinion. It is sufficient to read the text. Even the great enthusiasts of the revolution proposed in the Instrumentum Laboris, especially certain German bishops, have declared openly that the results of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon will leave the Church in an unrecognizable state. They, in fact, have presented the so-called “synodal way” as a process for arriving at a new and different moral teaching of the Church, especially in matters which touch Holy Matrimony and the family, and the right order of the relationship between man and woman in their human sexuality.

The Lordship of Christ and the Mission of the Church:
One of the most grievous errors expressed in the Instrumentum Laboris constitutes apostasy, that is a falling way from the Apostolic Faith, because it calls into doubt the Lordship of Christ Who alone is the salvation of the world. The Instrumentum Laboris characterizes the teaching on the unicity and universality of the salvation accomplished by Christ alive in the Church as relative to a particular culture. It affirms that this relativity is manifested in “petrified doctrines”[4]. Thus, the document proposes that the Church search its proper identity in a dialogue with creation and with the pagan cultures which it falsely considers “a particular source of God’s revelation.”[5] The truth that God is fully and perfectly revealed to us with the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation is seriously obscured and finally denied.

A logical consequence of this radically erroneous thinking is that the mission of the Church, the mission of evangelization, is denied in favor of “a mutual enrichment of cultures in dialogue.”[6] The correct role of inculturation in the mission of evangelization is contradicted, such that the culture conditions the revealed truth, when, in a true inculturation, the revealed truth purifies and elevates the culture.

In the quite alarming situation of the Church, I am frequently asked, by both priests and the lay faithful who love the Church and the truths of the Faith, transmitted to us by Christ alive in the Church: What ought we be doing”? My response is simple: Pray with all your heart and give witness to the truths of the Faith in the Church and in the world. I recall the exhortation of Saint Peter to our first brethren in the Faith. Writing to them on how to respond to those who were attacking the true Faith, he exhorted them:

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right?But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; …[7]

In order to give the so needed witness in a time like the present, we have to know well the Lord through prayer and the study of the Faith transmitted to us by the Apostles in the Church. It is not a question of “petrified doctrines”, but of the living truths that Christ communicates to us in the Church to confirm us on the way of love of God and of neighbor, the way that leads to our true and eternal home with him.

The Witness of the Faith and the Apostolate of Catholic Voice:
Many times, the faithful and also clergy are quite hesitant “to make a defense to anyone who calls [them] to account for the hope that is in [them],” for fear of not knowing sufficiently well the Church’s teaching on the Faith and morals. It is true that the catechesis in various parts of the Church, already now for some decades, has been seriously lacking and even sometimes erroneous. Thus, there is a certain doctrinal and disciplinary illiteracy among many in the Church. In such a situation, we need to help each other mutually to deepen our rapport with Christ in the Church, precisely by means of the study of the doctrine on faith and morals. For this reason, I am especially pleased to speak at this celebration of the 10th anniversary of Catholic Voice.

I have been working with Anthony Murphy since he first founded Catholic Voice. Over the ten years that I have been working with him, I have seen how Catholic Voice addresses directly the need of a new evangelization, especially in what regards the respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life, and for the integrity of marriage and the family. It is my hope that Catholic Voice will ever more effectively draw the clergy and the lay faithful in unity to combat the darkness of the present confusion, error and division in the Church. Bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated faithful, and the lay faithful, according to their vocations in life, are called to recognize the purity and beauty of the doctrine and discipline of the Church, and to work together, as living members of the Mystical Body of Christ, to safeguard and defend our Catholic Faith.

All of us, clergy and lay faithful, are called to be a faithful witness of Our Lord in the world, of His truth and of His love. We fulfill our mission to the degree that we truly know Our Lord, draw near to Him through prayer and above all the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and discipline our lives to live in the company of Our Lord at every moment.

Before Our Lord’s Ascension to Heaven, at the conclusion of His apparitions following the Resurrection, the Apostles posed to Him the question about the fulfillment of His saving work. Explaining to them their mission, He declared:

It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.[8]

It is clear that the one only salvific work of Christ continues in the Church until the Final Day by means of the witness, of the martyrdom of Christians according to their vocation and their particular gifts.

Thus, with my confrères in the Episcopate, I wrote these words in the already-mentioned Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time:

Before the eyes of the Divine Judge and in his own conscience, each bishop, priest, and lay faithful has the moral duty to give witness unambiguously to those truths that in our days are obfuscated, undermined, and denied. Private and public acts of a declaration of these truths could initiate a movement of a confession of the truth, of its defense, and of reparation for the widespread sins against the Faith, for the sins of hidden and open apostasy from Catholic Faith of a not small number both of the clergy and of the lay people. One has to bear in mind, however, that such a movement will not judge itself according to numbers, but according to the truth, as Saint Gregory of Nazianzus said, amidst the general doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis, that “God does not delight in numbers” (Or. 42:7).[9]

It is not a question of human satisfaction in doing something together with other persons. We hope that always more Christians may give a strong and adequate witness to the truth in the present situation of confusion, error and division, but we are dedicated, in fraternal collaboration, to giving the testimony which is inherent for us in the gift of the Faith.

Certainly, it means suffering for us, the suffering of the indifference of others, of being criticized and ridiculed by others, and even persecuted. But we understand this suffering in the light of the Cross, also meditating upon the most common object of our devotion, the crucifix, so that we can declare with Saint Paul:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.[10]

Nothing is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for our salvation. What is lacking, as Saint Paul teaches, is that we reproduce in our flesh the immolation of Christ for love of God the Father and the salvation of others, of the nations. Each of us, in his home, at his place of work, in his places of study and of other activities is called to follow the way of the Cross in order to give an efficacious witness to the mystery of life of Christ in us. Catholic Voice provides for us an effective help in our daily battle as soldiers of Christ in promoting and defending the truth.

The Missionary Self-consciousness of the Christian:
The Christian life is essentially missionary. If we truly believe in Christ, if we truly live in Him, we will desire to share our faith, the life of Christ within us, with others, both those near and those far away. Even if we are not called to go to the missions, we are fully engaged as Christians in the work of evangelization. We think, for instance, of the great missionary Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who, without ever leaving the enclosure of her monastery at Lisieux in France, worked with all her energy to sustain missionaries with prayer, penance and correspondence with them. Saint Thérèse is rightly one of the principal patrons of the missionary activity of the Church.

To illustrate the missionary self-consciousness of the Church and to stimulate our Christian self-consciousness, I wish to reflect upon the teaching on the missions found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated thirty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (11 October 1962-11 October 1992). Clearly, this authoritative font of the Magisterium reflects the constant teaching of the Church on the inherently missionary nature of the Catholic Faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church treats briefly the missionary nature of the Christian Faith in its commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, especially in treating the petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” declaring: “That His name be hallowed among the nations depends inseparably on our life and on our prayer.”[11]

In the exposition of the article of the Creed which enunciates the marks of the Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic, the Catechism of the Catholic Church comments amply on the missionary nature of our life in Christ in the Church. Treating the holiness of the Church, the Catechism reminds us, citing the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, that the holiness of the Church “is the secret and source and the infallible measure of its apostolic activity and its missionary thrust.”[12]

The attribute of catholicity, in the words of the Catechism, means that the Church “is sent on mission by Christ to the totality of the human race.”[13] In the treatment of this mark in the Catechism, there is an entire section with the title: “The Mission – a demand of the catholicity of the Church,”[14] which articulates the various aspects of the Church as essentially missionary. The mandate comes from the Lord Himself Who commands us:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Mt 28, 19-20).[15]

The Church, therefore, cannot do otherwise than use all of her forces to bring the Gospel and the Sacraments to all men of every time and in every place.

The source of the mission is found “in the eternal love of the Most Blessed Trinity.”[16] Divine Love, pure and selfless, poured forth into our hearts from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, without measure and without end, by its own nature works for the good of every man, without discrimination and without limitation. In the treatment of the Sacraments, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read:

Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. They confer the graces needed for the life according to the Spirit during this life as pilgrims on the march towards the homeland.[17]

From the moment of the conferral of Baptism on a new Christian, he receives the grace to contribute his part to the missionary work of the Church. That grace is strengthened and increased by Confirmation, and it is nourished, along the pilgrimage of life, by the Heavenly Bread that is the Body of Christ received in Holy Communion.

The origin of the mission manifests, at the same time, its purpose. As the Catechism affirms, the ultimate end of the mission is not other than to make men participants in the communion which exists between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.”[18]

It is then clear that the Church draws the reason of the mission from the love of God for all men. In the divine love, the entire Church finds “the obligation and the force of its missionary thrust.”[19] The Catechism explains:

God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.[20]

The fact that the people who have not yet heard the Gospel preached to them show some signs of attraction to the truth is not a sign that it does not have need of the Gospel. On the contrary, the people’s obedience to the natural law, directed toward God and His plan for salvation, requires the purification and illumination that can only come from Christ alive in the work of evangelization of the Church.[21]

In what pertains to the ways of the mission, the Catechism reminds us that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ways of the Church should reproduce the way of Christ which is the Cross. Citing the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and of the Magisterium of Pope Saint John Paul II, the Catechism declares:

On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.” Only by taking the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the People of God extend Christ’s reign.For “just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.”[22]

All Christians, with their prayer, their penance and the integrity of their life in Christ support the missionary work of the Church.

In the presentation of the moral teaching of the Church, the Catechism does not fail to underline the necessity of the integrity of life among Christians for the efficacy of the mission. Citing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the apostolate of the lay faithful in the world, the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Catechism teaches us:

The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.”[23]

No Christian therefore can withdraw himself from the missionary engagement of the universal Church. Every Christian, by way of the effort to live coherently in Christ, strengthens the entire mission of the Church. Every Christian who fails to live fully in Christ weakens the same mission.

The Catechism explains the patience required for the mission work of the Church, listing the various stages of the work: 1) “the announcement of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ”; 2) “the establishment of Christian communities as signs of the presence of God in the world”; and 3) “the foundation of local Churches.”[24] The stages, as the Catechism notes, “must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people’s culture.”[25] That which is true, beautiful and good in the pagan culture will serve to root the Gospel always more deeply in the life of the people, for it will find its fulfillment in the Gospel. It is not a process of accommodation of the Gospel to the culture, but a process of purification and elevation of the culture by means of the preaching of the Gospel. As the Catechism also notes, in the missionary work of the Church, “[t]here will be times of defeat.”[26]

Finally, the Catechism indicates to us that the mission requires “a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.”[27] This dialogue finds its foundation in the elements of their culture which correspond to the law of God. The Catechism reminds us:

 [Believers] proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil “for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man.”[28]

Respect for the pagan partner in dialogue does not in any way mean that the Gospel, the Deposit of Faith (Depositum Fidei), is relative to the true, good and beautiful elements in the pagan culture, but that these elements remain lacking without the purification and illumination that Christ alone brings to the world.

I hope that this brief exposition on the inherent missionary nature of our Christian Faith may be for you an inspiration to take up anew the missionary work of the Church, contributing, according to your proper vocation and gifts, to the announcement of the Gospel to all the nations. As clearly emerges from the perennial teaching of the Church, even the smallest acts of prayer, of penance, and of witness, as a participation in the Divine Love which inhabits the Christian soul, will not be fail to have their saving effect for the preaching of the Gospel to all peoples.

Let us not be worried by worldly considerations concerning the success of our witness. The only justified worry for us is how we may remain faithful and generous in giving witness to the love of God and of neighbor. At the end of our life, we ought only desire to declare about our lives what Saint Paul declared as he approached the end of his days:

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.[29]

In conclusion, I wish to underline once again the significant contribution of Catholic Voice to the missionary work of the Church. Today, as in every time of her history, the Church must employ all of the most efficacious means to preach the Gospel to the greatest number of persons. Let us pray for Catholic Voice, and let us support Catholic Voice, so that it may attain its noble purpose: a more faithful and generous witness to Christ on the part of us all.

With the help of divine grace, unceasingly and abundantly poured forth into our hearts from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us go forward. Let us fight the good fight. Let us stay the course. Let us keep the Faith.

Thank you for your kind attention. May God bless you and your homes.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] Cf. Raymond Leo Burke, Janis Pujats, Tomash Peta, Jan Pawel Lenga, and Athanasius Schneider, Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time (La Crosse, WI: Marian Catechist Apostolate, 2019). [Declaration of the Truths].

[2] Declaration of Truths, p. 4.

[3] Cf. Sinodo dei Vescovi, Assemblea Speciale per la Regione Panamazzonica, “Amazzonia: nuovi cammini per la Chiesa e per un’ecologia integrale”, Instrumentum laboris (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2019). [Instrumentum laboris].

[4] Instrumentum laboris, pp. 35-36, n. 38.

[5] Instrumentum laboris, p. 23, n. 19.

[6] Instrumentum laboris, p. 103, n. 122.

[7] 1 Pt 3, 13-18

[8] Acts 1, 7-8.

[9] Declaration of the Truths, p. 3.

[10] Col 1, 24-29.

[11] Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae / Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999), p. 1399, n. 2814

[12] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 475, n. 828.

[13] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 475, n. 831.

[14] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, pp. 484-489, nn. 849-856.

[15] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 485, n. 849.

[16] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 485, n. 850.

[17] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 817, n. 1533.

[18] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 485, n. 850.

[19] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 485, n.

[20] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 485 e 487, n. 851.

[21] Cf. Rom 2, 12-16.

[22] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 487, n. 853.

[23] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 1043, n. 2044.

[24] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 487, n. 854.

[25] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 487, n. 854.

[26] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 487, n. 854.

[27] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 489, n. 856.

[28] Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, p. 489, n. 856.

[29] 2 Tm 4, 6-8.