VATICAN — The Vatican announced on Saturday Pope Francis’ appointment of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — the Holy See's highest court — which he previously headed for six years.
Cardinal Burke, 69, is patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta, a post to which he was appointed in 2014 by Pope Francis. An expert in canon law, he served as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2008 to 2014.
Other members added to the tribunal were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, 77, and Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, also 77. Cardinal Vallini was prefect of the Apostolic Signatura before Burke, from 2004 to 2008. He then served as Vicar General of Rome until his retirement in May of this year.
It is Menichelli’s first appointment to the Roman Curia. He retired as archbishop of Ancona-Osimo, Italy in July. Other new members to the court include Msgr. Frans Daneels and Msgr. Johannes Willibrordus Maria Hendriks.
Saturday Pope Francis also named Father Denis Baudot, a priest of the Archdiocese of Lyon and currently an official of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, judicial vicar of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Vatican City.
The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is one of three courts within the Holy See. The others are the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
The Signatura, as it’s called, functions sort of like a Supreme Court and the Apostolic Penitentiary is the court in charge of some cases involving excommunication, and dealing with matters addressed within confession.
The Rota is akin to a court of appeals or court of “last instance,” and is also where marriage annulment cases are judged.
Cardinal Burke was born on June 30, 1948 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He was ordained a priest in 1975, serving the Diocese of La Crosse until his appointment as bishop of La Crosse in 1994.
Before becoming prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in 2008, the American cardinal had served as archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri since 2003.
As the chaplain of the Knights of Malta, Burke has clashed with the Holy See over the removal of the Grand Chancellor of the Knights. He is also one of four cardinals who signed the controversial dubia, a letter asking Pope Francis to clarify parts of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
In an interview Sept. 24 Burke said that he’s been wrongly depicted as the “enemy” of Pope Francis.
Even though he believes that the current division in the Church demands an answer to requests for clarity, he noted that as faithful Catholics, those who have expressed doubt or concern over the confusion surrounding Amoris Laetitia love the Pope “with complete obedience to the office of Peter.”