Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
By now, most people have heard the rumor from multiple sources that Cardinal Raymond Burke will be removed from the Apostolic Signatura where he serves as Prefect. This comes after being already removed from the Congregation for Bishops by Pope Francis.
Further, it is rumored that Cardinal Burke will be appointed "Cardinal Patron" of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a largely symbolic position. This decision is said to be in response to a book to which Cardinal Burke contributed, to be published soon by Ignatius Press, in which the propositions proffered by Cardinal Kasper in his keynote speech in preparation for the Synod on the Family are systematically dismantled. The book defends the traditional Catholic understanding of marriage, its history, and the praxis of withholding communion from those divorced and remarried as well as rebutting some arguments in favor of toleration of these arrangements. Lastly, it is speculated that if this move takes place in advance of the Synod, Cardinal Burke will lose his automatic invitation as a member of the Curia.
Now it must be stated that these decisions have not been formally confirmed by the Vatican and that even well-sourced rumors can be wrong.
But assuming that the rumors are correct, if the Pope does this he will have entered the No Spin Zone.
Among those who watch such things, this Pope has already become famous for leaving things vague. There are so many situations where we are unsure of exactly what the Pope has said or done and which the Pope declines to clarify, that it would be difficult to list them here. In such situations it is incumbent upon many Catholics to give the best possible interpretation to events and copious benefits of many doubts.
In fact, it seems that an entire cottage industry has spawned to do this very thing, to spin the Pope's words or actions in a way that fits with his carefully crafted image. In other words more common, they are the spin machine.
But this move, if it happens, will be unspinnable. Some have already tried with embarrassing results. This is brutal Vatican politics carried out at the highest level for the crime of intransigent orthodoxy. This would be a blatant humiliation of a Curial Cardinal at a crucial moment to prevent him galvanizing opposition to the current zeitgeist going into the synod.
If this happens as rumored, there will be no spinning it or removing the Pope's fingerprints from the crime scene.