Cardinal Burke Firmly Rejects Account by Order of Malta’s Acting Head

The Cardinal Patron of the Order says he is “stunned” by Von Rumerstein’s account of Albrecht von Boeselager's dismissal and considers it “a calumny”; also gives interview detailing his recent visit to Guam.

Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Cardinal Raymond Burke. (photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has firmly rejected an account given by the acting head of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta who said in an interview this week that the cardinal, and not the Order's Grand Master, was the one who asked its Grand Chancellor to resign in December. 

Here below are Cardinal Burke’s remarks in response to the account given by Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, who is reportedly suffering from ill health and not in possession of all his faculties:

“The account given by Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein is not accurate. I had no authority to ask the Grand Chancellor to resign. I simply stated that the person who knowingly permitted the distribution of contraceptives in the Order’s works should take responsibility, and then the Grand Master once again asked the Grand Chancellor to resign which he refused to do. Then the Grand Master proceeded to his dismissal without my involvement at all. The account of the Grand Master and myself stands.

To be frank, I am stunned by what Hoffmann von Rumerstein states in the article. I consider it a calumny.”

More on this story to follow next week.


Meanwhile, Cardinal Burke has given an interview to Italian television, giving details of his visit to Guam this week where he has been acting as presiding judge over a clerical sex abuse case dating back to the 1970s.

In the brief interview, the patron of the Order of Malta said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent him on the mission as he serves as president of the Congregation’s apostolic tribunal, and that he has known about the assignment since last October.

The cardinal said his duty was to “deal with a delicate ecclesiastical penal trial”, and that the Pope had “never spoken to me about this task.” He added that he “dealt exclusively” with superiors of the CDF “which is the usual procedure in such cases.”   

He further explained that the Pope had “entrusted the case to the Congregation, and the Congregation had proceeded according to the standard procedure for training the members of the Court.”

“In any case,”, he continued, “I think I’ve been chosen based on my study of canon law and my long experience in ecclesiastical trials.”

Earlier this week, the Vatican issued a statement saying the CDF constituted the tribunal on Oct. 5 2016. The tribunal is “autonomous and its work is separate from the Congregation,” the Vatican said, adding that in addition to Cardinal Burke as presiding judge, four other bishops are serving as judges on the case.

Asked how long the assignment will last, the cardinal said it will soon be completed (sources have told the Register this part of the assignment finished today and the cardinal returns to Rome Feb. 24). He added “it’s not clear” how long it will take to complete the entire case, but he hopes to “finish the job before the summer.”

When journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona asked if it was “punishment” from the Pope because he has questioned some of the Holy Father’s actions, the cardinal said: “No, I do not see this mission as a punishment of the Pope and certainly I’m not living it as a punishment!”

He said it is “normal for a cardinal, according to their preparedness and availability, to receive special assignments for the good of the Church.” He added he was “not surprised” by the CDF’s request and he accepted it, “conscious of the heavy responsibility that it involves, but without any thought of other motivations on the part of Pope Francis or the Congregation.”