Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke: Everything you need to know about their bitter feud

The Pope and Cardinal Burke have been in a year-long battle, and it seems one has come out on top.

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The Pope: everyone knows this person is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but could you tell us anything more about the man currently occupying the position? As the BBC explains, ‘Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a relative outsider when he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI in 2013’, yet he has enjoyed a lot of success over his time in the role.

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At 86 years old, he’s up there with Biden and Trump as an older globally-recognised figure. Despite his age, Pope Francis is known for his determined approach to modernise the Church. However, one Cardinal has really been putting a spanner in the works by becoming a sort of antiPope who appeals to traditionalists. Let’s have a look at Pope Francis’ approach and what's happening in his feud with Cardinal Burke.

Pope Francis’ modern ideas

Pope Francis has proved popular both inside and outside of the Church, and is known for his comparatively modern approach. Indeed, he even has 18.6M followers on X! As the spiritual leader to one-sixth of the world’s population, he has made it his mission to change the long-standing conservative values of the Church.

He has focused on rooting out corruption in the Vatican and dealing with the Church’s terrible history of child abuse. As Forbes points out, he has also worked on the following:

In November 2016 he gave priests the power to forgive women who undergo abortions.
He has continued to push for climate change reform, better treatment of refugees and greater attention to persecution of religious minorities.

This approach has earned him the support of more liberal followers. However, flipping the Church completely upside down would obviously lead to some criticism - so he’s tried to keep the balance by retaining some of the traditional elements of the Church, including the ban on female clergy members. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone and Pope Francis does have his fair share of ‘haters’.

The Pope and Cardinal Burke’s feud

There have been years of tension between Pope Francis and an American cardinal who is not a fan of his liberal ideas, Cardinal Burke. The New York Times recently reported that this feud has come to a head. According to reports, ‘Francis frequently demoted and stripped the American cleric of influence, but this month, the pope apparently finally had enough, according to one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity’:

Francis told a meeting of high-ranking Vatican officials that he intended to throw the cardinal out of his Vatican-subsidized apartment and deprive him of his salary as a retired cardinal.

Burke has always stuck to his criticism of Pope Francis, claiming that his approach causes ‘confusion, error and division’. Well, it seems that the Pope - who also lives rent-free - has had enough of this long-term enemy’s attacks.

Many observers are shocked by the rumour, and some are questioning what the point would be of this move. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, for example, commented on Burke’s eviction:

That’s not going to stop him from talking.

This is probably true, but it would certainly be a power move to boot Cardinal Burke out so publicly.

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Sources used:

The New York Times: Reports Say Pope Francis Is Evicting U.S. Cardinal From His Vatican Home

Forbes: Pope Francis

BBC News: Profile: Pope Francis

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