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That is the question asked by Austin Ruse in a column at the  Catholic Thing . Ruse calls Burke a “true pastor and a man who has all the gifts – ecclesial, spiritual, and temporal – to be Bishop of Rome.”

Ruse is hardly the only one to tout Burke’s name. A Catholic editor friend of mine last night spun the unlikely theory that Dolan and O’Malley are being touted as stalking horses for a Burke candidacy. Once the cardinals reconcile themselves to the idea of an American pope, he said, they’ll be more likely to see the particular virtues of one American.

Burke possesses two virtues many view as necessary for the next pope. First, Burke shares Benedict’s desire to deepen the reform of the reform of the liturgy. He frequently celebrates the Latin Mass that Benedict commended to the Church, as well as a reverent version of the often chaotically celebrated Novus Ordo. Nothing could be a more fitting tribute to the pope emeritus than to extend this project so close to his heart.

Burke also shows a willingness to discipline dissent, realizing that the shepherd bears his rod for a reason, and that sparing it can be a failure in charity. As canonist Ed Peters has noted, perhaps no one wields that rod more sensitively than Burke:


I would  like  to say that Abp. Raymond Burke’s excommunication of three women who recently participated in a pseudo-ordination in Saint Louis is a “text-book illustration” of how (non-judicial) excommunication is supposed to be applied in the Church today, but I can’t say that: Why not? Because Abp. Burke’s attention to juridic details and his provisions for the pastoral care of the people entrusted to his care  so   exceed  what the textbooks teach, that it is the  textbooks  that must copy from  him , not him from the textbooks.

Michael Potemra at National Review , who first floated Burke’s name in 2011 , reacts to the speculation : “Is a Burke election likely? No. But is it impossible? No.”

That sounds about right.

Update: Peter Lawler prints a note  sent him by “a leading Catholic intellectual”

Since you brought it up, my papal endorsement goes to Burke. I would consider myself a fellow traveler with the “narrow and intense” fan base, but there are also practical reasons why I think of all the Americans he has a real shot. One — languages. He’s got ‘em. Dolan doesn’t. Two — life inside the Vatican. He’s done it. Dolan hasn’t. Seems to me that if the Italians or the Rome-based cardinalate are going to violate the unofficial “no American” rule, it would be psychologically easiest to start with a guy who has been one among them. In addition to which, I’m sure they’re all aware that this is a man that Benedict singled out for promotion.

Articles by Matthew Schmitz

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