Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American prelate and a divisive leader of the Catholic Church's conservative wing, was today removed from a prestigious Vatican congregation that helps the pope select new bishops.
The Congregation for Bishops takes lists of names of potential candidates for bishop and whittles them down to a short list that's then sent to the pope for final approval. According to John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter, while the pope is technically not bound by the congregation's recommendations, he nonetheless usually selects their top choice when a position opens up. Consequently, the group plays a huge role in shaping the direction and ideological makeup of the Catholic hierarchy.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke to the Congregation of Bishops in 2009, but today the Vatican released Pope Francis's picks and Burke's name wasn't on it.
Francis's move makes sense in light of his recent call for the Catholic Church to become less "obsessed" with culture-war issues like contraception, abortion, and marriage equality. Burke, one of the church's leading culture warriors who has a rather legendary obsession with abortion, doesn't really fit with that vision. Writes NCR's Michael Sean Winters:
Burke is the consummate culture warrior and he has encouraged the appointment of men to prominent sees who, like himself, look out at the world and see nothing but dread, who have bought into a narrative in which all the Church's problems and challenges are someone else's fault, and that the Gospel is best preached from a defensive crouch, with finger wagging at any and all who do not see the world as they do. I cannot think of a single churchmen who is less like Pope Francis...
Perhaps the only thing more famous than Burke's obsession with regulating women's bodies is his fondness for clerical high fashion, including the ridiculously over-the-top cappa magna. But Catholic fashionistas can breathe a sigh of relief: Burke still retains his position as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (head of the highest judicial body in the Roman Catholic Church), so you'll still be able to spot Cardinal Burke and his billowing garments fluttering about behind Vatican walls.
Photos of some of Cardinal Burke's most memorable fashion moments are after the jump.