Pope Francis Cleans House, Expelling Cardinal Burke from His Vatican Apartment

Kudos to Pope Francis, for expelling Cardinal Burke from his lace-based luxurious apartment in the Vatican confines. 

The cover of In the Closet of the Vatican by Frederic Martel, translated from the French by Shaun Whiteside.

That apartment received special attention from French journalist Frederic Martel in his eye-opening book, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.   

Left alone in the apartment while awaiting an interview with Burke, the author describes the anteroom as “a vast place that will stay in my memory for ever…a kind of huge drawing room, at once classical, luxurious and Spartan.” Wandering about the apartment, Martel found “dreadful religious statues,” “ornamental art of elderly dandies” and “the cardinal’s famous red hat” — that was less a hat than “a headdress!” 

Photographs on the walls reveal:
…. the diva cardinal; the dandy cardinal; the drama-queen cardinal. They must be seen to be believed. Looking at them, you start imagining the Vatican in a different light. Laughing at Burke is almost too easy!

A profile of Cardinal Burke — with no mention of Burke’s taste in decor. Video by The Only Book That Matters

The bathroom, “the place where he performs his ablutions,” resembles a deluxe spa resort heated like a sauna. One finds “luxury soaps, with the subtle perfumes” arranged in Japanese style, toilet paper “set in a protective cover that guarantees its immaculate purity.”  

In the corridor are dozens of bottles of high-class champagne. Inside numerous boxes were the “cardinal’s headdresses, his fake fur coats and his red trapezoid outfits. I feel as if I’m behind the scenes of Fellini’s film Roma when they’re preparing the extravagant ecclesiastical fashion parade.”

A topper that’s over the top: What a cardinal’s hat used to look like, on display at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Photo by Brian Mason on Flickr.

Regaled in his outfits from another era, “in his cappa magna he becomes a giant—he looks like a Viking bride!” His red train reaches a length of 12 meters.  He wears one big red hat with tassels, abandoned by most prelates since 1965, “even if, at the age of almost seventy, it makes him look like a vindictive old woman.”

Pope Francis confronted Burke several times about his outfits, telling him the cappa magna is inappropriate: “the carnival is over!”*  

To be continued.

Frederic Martel, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, pp. 22-53.

See Matthew Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can be Saved.

And Fox, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.

And Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors To Awaken the Sacred Masculine.

Banner Image: Priestly Ordinations with His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, Saint Louis, Missouri. Photo by Phil Roussin on Flickr. 

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense that “the carnival is over” for certain powerful prelates in institutional religion? What does one learn from these efforts to confront privilege among the religious hierarchy?

Recommended Reading

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity

A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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6 thoughts on “Pope Francis Cleans House, Expelling Cardinal Burke from His Vatican Apartment”

  1. Avatar

    Pope Francis is on the right track here. Yet the American Catholic Church is driven
    by the goal of increased funding from the US government for schools and other programs via the dissolution of church and state legal lines.
    The Supreme Court is working to that end in recent court cases.
    Power and money, who thought that might lead to corruption?
    I sense the Pope is on the right track. It’s going to be difficult however.

  2. Avatar

    I left the institutional Catholic Church a few years ago with my increased awareness of the history of spiritually unbalanced values, beliefs, and actions of patriarchal institutions/societies that have been increasingly destructive and unjust toward humanity, especially women, Indigenous peoples, and our Sacred Mother Earth… The deeper mystical spirituality of our spiritual traditions are kept alive by individuals and smaller communities with Faith in the PRESENCE in Our hearts~Eternal Souls of Our Living Source~Co-Creator’s~Evolving SPIRIT of LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS within Our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  3. Avatar

    Not a chance…good intentions are in fact not withstanding. Let the drag cardinals have their day…first things first. Women are totally, unequivocally equal in all matters spiritual and material to men. End the original sin of patriarchy and all else will fall. Otherwise it continues as an institution of blind pompous zombies.

  4. Avatar

    It is more than a scandal that such a man was allowed to live in and flaunt such luxury when churches in the U.S. were being closed, supposedly because of the cost of reparations for the deviant priests and nuns who abused children for decades. What happened to the vow of poverty, and what is the source of such riches? The Vatican could surely sell off some of its precious jewelry and other items to keep its churches open. I agree with GDEM that the Pope has an uphill job with the disappearance of the line between state and church in the U.S. .I wish that he would remove some more, but understand that he is limited in what he can accomplish. I suspect that he has received more than one threat, not that it would stop him. A friend’s daughter, who is a pastor’s wife in Florida (where I live, for my sins) was ecstatic because the state was paying for Christian schools. And the state is.

  5. Avatar
    Br Graham-Michoel OSBC Brandreth Wills

    Witnessing the wealth of Cardinal Burke’s private apartment, and his retainer salary, I am reminded of the countless thousands of clergy and laity who have given millions, if not billions, of unpaid hours of honest labour in the Church, many of whom now live, (or died), in abject poverty.

  6. Avatar

    It seems that the most adamant homophobes are almost always heavily-closeted gays. So here is your annual reminder, that female cardinals are not red, they’re brown. So if your readers receive a Christmas card with a picture of two or more red cardinals ….. congratulations, those are gay cardinals.

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