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Pope Francis reportedly strips US Cardinal Burke of salary, evicts him from apartment

Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience on September 20, 2023, at St Peter's square in The Vatican.
Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience on September 20, 2023, at St Peter's square in The Vatican. | TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis is reportedly stripping conservative U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke of his salary and Vatican apartment as punishment for fomenting "disunity" in the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis announced he was taking such actions against the conservative American prelate during a Nov. 20 meeting of the heads of Vatican offices, according to two sources who attended the meeting and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

One source told the outlet that Francis was evicting Burke from his subsidized Vatican apartment and stopping his retired cardinal's salary because he was using such privileges against the church. Another source claimed the pontiff accused Burke of sowing "disunity."

"Cardinal Burke is my enemy, so I take away his apartment and his salary," the pope said, according to an anonymous source at the meeting who spoke to conservative Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, as noted by Catholic News Agency.

Burke had not yet received notification of the papal punishment against him as of Tuesday, his secretary told the AP.

Burke, who was made a cardinal in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, has attracted support from traditionalist Catholics amid his outspoken criticism of Francis, whose leadership he said in 2014 has given some Catholics "a strong sense that the Church is like a ship without a rudder."

Burke has twice joined other conservative cardinals in firing off "dubia" — or formal requests for clarity — to Francis regarding contentious doctrinal questions.

Francis did not respond to their first request for clarity about his outreach to divorced and remarried Catholics, the AP noted.

In July, Burke and five other cardinals requested clarity regarding the interpretation of Divine Revelation, the blessing of same-sex unions, synodality, ordination of women, and repentance as a necessary condition for sacramental absolution, according to Vatican News.

Francis responded to the dubia days before the Synod on Synodality that began on Oct. 9, which Burke criticized in an Oct. 2 press conference.

"It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit by some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine," Burke said.

Burke faced repeated demotions during Francis' papacy.

In 2014, the pope removed Burke from his position as head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which is the Vatican's highest court to which he had been appointed by Benedict XVI in 2008.

Burke has also lost his position in the Congregation for Divine Worship and his patronage of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Burke and Francis also seemed to clash over COVID-19 vaccinations, with Francis hitting at vaccine "negationists" among the College of Cardinals and referencing Burke as one of them in 2021, according to the AP.

The pope's reported actions against Burke come weeks after he removed Joseph E. Strickland — another outspoken American critic of his papacy — from his post as bishop of Tyler, Texas.

Strickland blasted reports of Burke's punishment as "an atrocity that must be opposed" if true. "If it is false information it needs to be corrected immediately."

The Vatican has not denied the reports, with spokesperson Matteo Bruni referring reporters to Burke and saying, "I don't have anything particular to say about that," according to the AP.

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