The Dignitatis Humanae Institute very much regrets having to take this unprecedented action to highlight an injustice done by a certain news organisation against Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the President of its Advisory Board.
The DHI was approached by BuzzFeed to arrange an interview with Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signature, which it willingly did. This is the now-notorious interview in which Cardinal Burke accused Pope Francis of having harmed the Church. Only the Cardinal never said any such thing.
Here is what Cardinal Burke actually said:
“I can’t speak for the pope and I can’t say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm.”
What BuzzFeed reported:
“According to my understanding of the church’s teaching and discipline, no, it wouldn’t be correct,” Burke said, saying the pope had “done a lot of harm” by not stating “openly what his position is.”
(Emphasis added in both cases).
Cardinal Burke was clear, in what he actually said, that in his opinion a general lack of clarity regarding the Pope’s position had caused harm to the Church. BuzzFeed’s more sensationalist rearrangement of this text identifies the Pope himself as the cause of the harm. The difference is of course important.
Benjamin Harnwell, the Founder of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, said: “The DHI has no issue with the professionalism of the journalist who filed the original story, and we were willing to give BuzzFeed the benefit of the doubt to an ambiguously reported paraphrasing. However, once it was made clear that this controversial paraphrase did not reflect what Cardinal Burke actually said, we expected a speedy correction. Sadly, BuzzFeed management declined our repeated requests.”
Harnwell concluded: “As the organiser of the interview, the DHI is therefore taking this unusual step in publishing its own clarification.”
Statement of Cardinal Burke:
Speaking through the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Burke said: “As a priest, bishop and finally a cardinal, I have only ever sought to serve Our Lord’s Church in humble obedience to the Magisterium and to the Holy Father. Needless confusion regarding my motives does not help me in this service, especially when substantial questions of principle are at stake. I very strongly believe that one also serves loyally by expressing a contrary judgment, in accord with the pursuit of the truth, and that one only serves faithfully when one has dutifully and clearly spoken, in obedience to one’s conscience.”
“I did not state that Pope Francis has harmed the Church. Rather, as the now published verbatim interview reveals, I was perfectly clear that it was a lack of clarity about where the Holy Father stands on issues related to marriage and Holy Communion that had caused the harm. It is precisely for this reason that I subsequently said that only a statement from the Holy Father himself could now remove this lack of clarity.”
“Sadly, confusion, such as that generated by this particular interview, has been used to portray those opposed to Cardinal Kasper’s thesis as motivated by a personal animus against the Holy Father. This is just not the case, though it no doubt helps the cause of those with certain ideological axes to grind to make this appear so.” ENDS
Note to Editors
The DHI had sought to have this relatively innocuous correction published by BuzzFeed:
“Clarification: Cardinal Burke has asked us to point out that he did not actually say, as has been widely reported elsewhere, that “Pope Francis has harmed the Church”. What the Cardinal said was: “the lack of clarity [about what the Pope’s position is] has done a lot of harm.”
BuzzFeed acknowledges the ambiguous phrasing of the originally published interview, which gives the impression that Cardinal Burke was severely criticising Pope Francis, an impression which is not present in the original interview (the full transcript of which can be read here).”