The Catholic University of America

March 21, 2014

Cardinal Burke Draws Large Crowd

  From left: Kurt Martens, associate professor of canon law; Msgr. Thomas J. Green, Stephan Kuttner Distinguished Professor of Canon Law; Rev. Robert Kaslyn, dean of the School of Canon Law; Cardinal Raymond Burke; Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio; John Garvey, University President

Cardinal Raymond Burke returned to Catholic University on March 20 to deliver the 11th Annual James H. Provost Memorial Lecture. A crowd of nearly 250 filled the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center Great Room to hear the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura speak on “The Relation between the Apostolic Signatura and the Local Church,” and to meet the cardinal.

Cardinal Burke studied at The Catholic University of America, receiving his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy. In opening remarks he noted, “It is a pleasure for me to return to The Catholic University of America, at which I, as a Basselin Scholar from 1968 to 1971, received my philosophical formation. I remain ever grateful for the exceptional education which I received in the School of Philosophy, an education upon which I have substantially drawn throughout my lifetime and especially in my studies of theology and canon law.”

Cardinal Burke also studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, earning a license and a doctorate in canon law, among other degrees. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. Pope John Paul II named him defender of the bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in 1989.

He was appointed bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse in 1994, and archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis in 2003. In June 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the position he currently holds in the Apostolic Signatura. In 2010, the Pope elevated him to the College of Cardinals. He is a former trustee of the University.

Cardinal Burke stayed long after his lecture to greet the faithful.  

“It is my hope that my lecture will not only pay tribute to the longstanding contribution of [CUA’s] School of Canon Law to the deeper knowledge and more faithful practice of the Church’s discipline but will also be a source of inspiration for the continued labor of forming faithful and generous canon lawyers, cultores sacrorum canonum, according to the mind and heart of the Divine Lawgiver, our lord Jesus Christ, the new Moses.”

Cardinal Burke addressed the different areas of competence of the Apostolic Signatura in relation to the local Church, “with special attention to its competence as an administrative tribunal and as the dicastery which ensures that justice in the Church is correctly administered.”

He explained, “The Apostolic Signatura carries out its responsibility as a department or ministry of justice in the Church, that is, the responsibility for vigilance over — and promotion of — the correct administration of justice in the Church.”

Speaking about the relation between the Apostolic Signtura and the local church, Cardinal Burke said, “The service of the Roman Curia and, therefore, of the Apostolic Signatura is intimately connected with the very apostolic character of the Church. The Catholic Church enjoys, as it must, the service of a pastor who is indeed the Vicar of Christ on earth, caring for the entire flock in every time and place.”

The full text of Cardinal Burke’s lecture will appear in an upcoming issue of The Jurist, the only scholarly peer-reviewed journal on canon law published in the United States. The editorial office of the journal is housed within CUA’s School of Canon Law. It is published by The Catholic University of America Press.

In his lecture, Cardinal Burke expressed “gratitude for the recently initiated collaboration of the The Jurist with the Apostolic Signatura in the publication of its jurisprudence in Latin with an English translation.” He went on to thank Associate Professor Kurt Martens, editor of the journal, “for the care which he unfailingly shows in the preparation of the original decisions and decrees, and of the English translation for publication.”

In closing his lecture, Cardinal Burke called upon the words of Pope Francis delivered last November to the plenary session of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, “May Mary, most holy, whom we invoke with the title of Mirror of Justice, assist you and the whole Church to walk in the way of justice which is the first form of charity.”

The James H. Provost Memorial Lecture Series is sponsored by the School of Canon Law yearly during the spring semester in memory of Rev. James H. Provost, a professor of canon law at CUA who died in 2000.

Following the lecture, the faithful formed a long line, waiting patiently for a chance to greet the cardinal, receive a blessing, and have books signed. Victor David, a senior politics major from Joliet, Ill., came to the lecture because “I am interested in pursuing canon law. What better way to learn about the profession than to have an opportunity to hear the chief judge of the Church speak. I took a lot of notes.” David waited in line to have his red hard-cover copy of Cardinal Burke’s book, Divine Love Made Flesh, signed. “He was so approachable,” said David.



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