Wineke: Who’s more humble — the cardinal or the pope?
Here’s a theological question for you: Who is more humble, Pope Francis or Cardinal Raymond Burke?
That initially might seem like a no-brainer. The pope lives in a hotel, rides around in a Fiat and gives the general impression he would be as comfortable in blue jeans as in papal garb. The cardinal is best known for his red satin and lace and for some truly impressive hats. Of course the pope is the more humble.
Except it takes a certain amount of arrogance to live that simply. The pope is the embodiment of 2,000 years of Catholic history, but is turning his back on the papal apartments his predecessors used. When he rides around in a Fiat, he is risking his life and with it the hopes of the tens of millions of Catholics who want their church reformed.
His massive popularity is due in large part to his winning personality, but if a pope derives his authority from popularity, what will that say about future pontiffs?
I would argue that Francis is a simple man, but not a humble man. He has enough self-confidence to take on one of the more tradition-encrusted institutions in the world, the Vatican.
Burke, on the other hand, probably is a humble man. Those who know him (and he’s from Richland Center, so many people do) say he is a humble man.
He’s best known for his rigid interpretation of Catholic doctrine and is a world-class expert on Catholic canon law. Until recently, he was in charge of the Vatican version of the Supreme Court. In today’s eyes he may dress like something of a fop, but to traditionalists the cardinal is doing no more than demonstrating his submission to the role of a prince of the church.
So I think you can make a case that Burke is more humble than Francis.
I think you can also make the case that humility is a dangerous quality for a leader to possess.
One has to have a certain amount of arrogance to even accept the job of leadership, whether it involves being leader of a Boy Scout troop or of the Vatican.
These jobs require boldness and risk-taking. If Francis isn’t successful, millions of disaffected Catholics will simply leave forever. If you’re going to stand up to the vested interests of the Curia, you’d better be sure of yourself because human beings don’t give up power easily. It takes an arrogant attitude to proclaim that time-honored rules and traditions no longer serve a function.
A truly humble man will be more likely to wrap himself in the cocoon of rules and regulations of traditions and wrap it all in a 20-foot train than he will be to reinterpret those rules and regulations so they make sense in a modern world.
Burke keeps calling his church back to a simpler time, when women knew their place, priests were revered and fathers taught their large families how to say the rosary. That’s comforting to those who don’t like change. The trouble is, change has already occurred. If the church tries to go back, it will only discover there’s no one there.
Traditionalists will disagree with me and tell me that the problem in the church isn’t rigor, it’s wishy-washiness. I think they’re wrong, but so what? All that’s at stake are our immortal souls.