Pope Francis is set to evict US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary, following nearly a decade simmering tension between the Pontiff and the American prelate over both social and liturgical issues.
Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church, reports BBC News.
A source at the Vatican has hinted that the decision was not intended as a personal punishment, rather it comes “from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticizing the head of the church.”
Earlier, The Pope has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years. In the church politics, the Cardinal and other American conservatives has been at odds with the Pope on social and liturgical issues such as promoting Covid vaccines, the sacking of the head of the Knights of Malta, over the distribution of condoms in Myanmar, divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender.
A Vatican watcher described the Pope’s action as “unprecendented in the Francis era”, adding that “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.” He further warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.
Another Vatican observer was of the view that Pope Francis recent move shows that he was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”.
As the Pope revealed his plans to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week, Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news.
The 75-year-old Cardinal Burke was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.