Pope Francis Demotes Anti-Gay Cardinal Raymond Burke, Another Big Move For the Church

In what might be another important step forward in the Catholic Church's (incremental) movements towards the acceptance of the LGBT community, the fiercely anti-gay U.S. Cardinal, Raymond Burke, is being demoted by Pope Francis, Buzzfeed reported Friday. You may have heard of Burke already — a former Archbishop of St Louis, he once said that he'd deny communion to John Kerry just because of his stance on abortion, and has repeatedly espoused the view that gay people are “intrinsically evil."

Just last week, the Cardinal again made headlines when he publicly called on parents to keep their children far away from their gay family members. Over the years, he's been one of the most vocally homophobic members of the Church and, until now, he's been a high-ranking one, too. But, you know, according to him, “[Homophobia is] simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

But the Cardinal — and his dated, dogmatic attitude — has been diverging from the Pope for a while now. More than once, he's tried to override Pope Francis' milder statements with his own, unyielding stances. Only last year, Pope Francis took him off the Vatican Committee (which chooses bishops), in favor of someone a bit less polarizing.

And nothing could make the contrast between the Cardinal and the direction of the Church clearer than the report on the Synod of Bishops on the Family released earlier this week.

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In it, the Vatican makes a big move by inviting LGBT Catholics into the Church. Although it's not exactly celebrating gay marriage, it's still huge step forward for an institution which has labeled homosexuality a "condition" that is a sin when acted on. But of course, its biggest critic? The Cardinal. As he told Buzzfeed:

The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth. The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.
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Now, Burke has confirmed to Buzzfeed that he's being transferred from his high-powered position to a figurehead post, as patron to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Said he:

I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it. On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust, by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important.
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Whether or not Pope Francis' decision is in direct response to the Cardinal's homophobia, we probably won't know. But it's a big deal regardless, because it means one less powerful man is filling the Vatican with his homophobic vitriol — and that's thanks to the Pope.

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