Cardinal Burke has been criticized for doing his job as a canon lawyer, which is to obey canon law. Being obedient to the Church's law is presumably the very minimum we should expect from any priest or prelate. Not being able to criticise him for holding fast to the teaching of Jesus Christ most of the criticism from the vindictive lunatic fringe seems to be about the soft furnishings of his office, which as he is doing what he is supposed to do, is plain churlish.
I am not sure that a EF cappa magna would fit in my Church, two right angle turns from the sacristy to the sanctuary and narrow gangways would present health and safety issues for both the wearer and the congregation. The old cappa is quite a few yards longer than the one in Paul VI's post-concilliar clothing regulations that are in force for Bishops and Cardinals in the Ordinary Form.
Blood red, not white, is the proper papal colour, it symbolises the martyrs, most especially Ss Peter and Paul. The fact you need an attendant or minder to hold the other end of the cappa indicates the dependency of a Cardinal on others, it symbolises the burden of office, the stream of blood behind a Prince of the Church. It is actually street dress, or at least processional dress. It is supposed to make a spectacle, a witness, of the Cardinal. Blood red silk flowing from his shoulders, is supposed to be a statement signifying 'that you are ready to act with fortitude, even to the point of spilling your blood for the increase of the Christian faith, for peace and harmony among the people of God, for freedom and the spread of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.' which is what Pope says at the imposition of the red hat.
The Church has always recognised the Cappa is worn as a sign of the external vanities of the world, I like the prayer that is said when it is removed.'Take off of me, Lord, the old man with his manners and deeds: and put on me the new man, who according to God is created in justice, and the holiness of truth.' It's removal is actually more important than ts wearing because after its removal the Cardinal or Bishop ends up being clothed in the casuala, the little house, the Chucrh of charity. I suspect the phrase, 'created in justice, and the holiness of truth' resonates with Cardinal Burke.
I received a few rather gracious emails suggesting I was unkind for describing the Order as 'moribund' a week or so ago; this morning I received a charming phone call from a member of the Order of Malta explaining quite how un-moribund they actually are. I am apologise unreservedly. My intention was simply to suggest that the Sovereign Order would be very fortunate to have Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke as its Patron but I also suggested that the Order was in a place that would give the Cardinal a very influential place in the Church. I think to make reparation it might be worth suggesting that the Cardinal might well be fortunate to be associated with the Order. In fact, if we discount any malice on the Pope's part, and let us presume that the Pope is not extra-ordinarily stupid, then he has deliberately appointed one of the most outspoken, intellectually able, hard working, guileless Cardinals, and those who know him describe him as quite saintly, to what is probably a dream job. Yes, lots of lex orandi, most of the members of the Order of Malta I know are strongly attached to the Old Rite, but actually lots of lex vivendi going on as well.
I don't quite know how to describe the Order of Malta, it is actually a religious order, with a celibate core. It is also the other independent sovereign state in Rome, though its territory is even smaller, it parallels the Vatican, it has its own Sovereign and clergy, even ambassadors. It is also a social support community, for the great and the good. On the ground it is an aid agency, it runs hospital, nursing homes, refugee camps, it is even in Lampedusa.
It is this that Pope Francis has made Cardinal Burke the Patron, as I have said elsewhere I expect fission to take place. At least twice before the Order has saved Europe and consequently the Church, will there be a third time?
It is worth reading this from the Order of Malta's Grand Chancello, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager:
“We are active now in 120 countries with bigger and smaller operations. We have between 80,000 and 100,000 volunteers, and 30,000 or so employees. It has become a big operation whereby the huge proportion of activities is not emergency relief. It involves activities such as our Homes Trust here in England, hospitals in Germany, volunteer organisations, social aid, first aid and care for the elderly, the homeless, the handicapped, but the limelight is always on conflicts and disasters.”
That said, one should not underestimate the order’s achievements in conflict and disaster zones. Take Iran: “The last time we were there was after the severe earthquake. We were surprised how well they were organised and how unideological. In the aftermath of the earthquake when the first phase of aid was over we were asked by the local government to coordinate all the NGOs and to train new local NGOs. We were astonished.”
There are many other examples. “In one African country our ambassador discovered in the central prison there was no separation between men and women. You can imagine what happened. And on one side, the government did not care and, on the other side, they were ashamed so they did not let anybody in to see it. But they trusted our ambassador and allowed him to build a wall just across the middle of the prison to separate men and women and, in addition, to build a small clinic. And this was only possible because he had direct contact to the prime minister and they saw he was not a dependent of anybody and did not have to report to any other national or international body.”
One last example. “In the last Lebanon war our ambassador negotiated the release of more than 1,000 hostages. The European papers were full of the stories of the western hostages but not of the Lebanese hostages. And he went with his diplomatic car into the battlefield in the Beqaa Valley to take the injured out and he was not attacked by either side.” All these examples are small pieces, says the order’s Grand Chancellor in his understated way, “but they underline how we work”.