American Cardinal Raymond L. Burke says that the introduction of altar girls lead to fewer men joining the priesthood. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Cardinal Burke: ‘Feminized’ Church, altar girls caused priest shortage

By  David Gibson, Religion News Service
  • January 7, 2015

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis’ push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic Church has become too “feminized.”

Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican’s highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” Burke said. “I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

“It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of (a) priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys,” the former archbishop of St. Louis told Matthew James Christoff, who heads a Catholic men’s ministry called the New Emangelization Project.

“If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically,” Burke said.

The Catholic Church dropped its ban on girls assisting the priests during Mass in 1983, and today it is common to see more girls than boys helping on the altar. Only one U.S. diocese, in Lincoln, Neb., still bars altar girls, though a number of individual parishes have barred them in hopes of encouraging more boys and men to consider the all-male priesthood.

In the interview, Burke also blamed gay clergy for the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity” were the ones who molested children. Researchers have disputed that claim, and experts note that the reported rise in the number of gay men entering the priesthood since the 1980s coincided with a sharp drop-off in abuse cases.

Burke, 66, spoke to Christoff in December during a visit to La Crosse, Wis., where Burke served as bishop in the 1990s before being named archbishop of St. Louis. In 2008, then-Pope Benedict XVI called Burke to the Vatican to head the Church’s top court and made him a cardinal. That prestigious position lent weight to his increasingly sharp and direct criticisms of Francis, who succeeded Benedict in March 2013.

In an unusual move, Francis effectively demoted Burke in November, shifting him from his job in the Roman Curia to a largely ceremonial post as patron of the Order of Malta, a global Catholic charitable organization based in Rome.
Vatican observers suspected the switch would actually give Burke more freedom to speak his mind, and in this latest interview the cardinal doubled down on themes he has often struck: that liberalizing changes in both society and the Church, especially
“radical feminism,” have gravely undermined the Catholic faith since the 1970s.

Burke said he recalled “young men telling me that they were, in a certain way, frightened by marriage because of the radicalizing and self-focused attitudes of women that were emerging at that time. These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women.”

He said that “the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church” as well.

The focus on women’s issues, he said, plus “a complete collapse” of teaching the faith and “rampant liturgical experimentation,” led the Church to become “very feminized.” That turned off men who “respond to rigour and precision and excellence,” Burke said.

“Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women,” he said. “The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.”
Burke, a liturgical traditionalist as well as a doctrinal conservative who is renowned for wearing elaborate silk and lace vestments while celebrating Mass, also said that “men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.”

Comments (8)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Changing the past and blaming isn't going to solve our present problems, I'm sorry to say. I will pray for all the lonely people out there.

Catholic
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Such a lonely place. It appears everyone is so lonely and blames everyone else for their sadness when no one is left. Desperation.

Catholic
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

God bless Cardinal Burke, a true prince of the Church and a blessing to the Faith. His willingness to speak the truth, even when it is not popular and his obedience and humility are a great example for us all.

Ryan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

At the age of altar servers, yes its true, young boys have little or no interest in many activities girls engage in. I'm a parent and see this with school children all the time. So Jenny, when you get married and have lots of kids (if so...

At the age of altar servers, yes its true, young boys have little or no interest in many activities girls engage in. I'm a parent and see this with school children all the time. So Jenny, when you get married and have lots of kids (if so blessed) - you will then be informed. The cardinal is correct

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noone
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"..Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural.."
Can anyone imagine Mr. Burke having daughters and sons of his own, as a married man ?

jenny
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What kind of hatchet job article is this? Cardinal Burke has publicly supported the Holy Father and went to the press after the Synod to correct some misquotes attributed to him. I have noticed the same editorial slant at Salt and Light. This...

What kind of hatchet job article is this? Cardinal Burke has publicly supported the Holy Father and went to the press after the Synod to correct some misquotes attributed to him. I have noticed the same editorial slant at Salt and Light. This bashing of orthodoxy must stop

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Paul Zilio
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A courageous shepherd wo speaks the truth and doesn't pander to the culture. A true warrior for Christ!

Luciano
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What kind of an intellect would write that homosexual sex abuse dropped off as more homosexuals became priests? A very poor, propagandized one is the anwer.

Russ
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